Steven Jobs life and biography

Steven Jobs picture, image, poster

Steven Jobs biography

Date of birth : 1955-02-24
Date of death : -
Birthplace : San Francisco, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2010-10-01
Credited as : Computer industry executive, business magnat, co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple

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Steven Jobs

"My self-identity does not revolve around being a businessman, though I recognize that is what I do. I think of myself more as a person who builds neat things."

Born in 1955, computer designer and corporate executive Steven Jobs is co-inventor of the "Apple II" home computer.

Born in 1955, Steven Jobs was adopted shortly thereafter by a California couple, Paul and Clara Jobs. Jobs showed an early interest in electronics and gadgetry. As a high school student, he boldly asked William Hewlett, co-founder and president of the Hewlett-Packard computer firm, for some parts he needed to complete a class project. Hewlett was impressed enough to give Jobs the parts and offer him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard.

After graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for two years before dropping out, partly to ease his family's financial burden and partly to find himself. He hoped to visit India and study eastern spiritualism, but lacking necessary funds, went to work for Atari Computers part-time. He was able to save enough money to finance a trip to India in the summer of 1974. While there, he practiced meditation, studied eastern culture and religion, and even shaved his head. But by the fall, he became ill with dysentery and was forced to return to the United States.

For a short time, Jobs lived in a California commune but soon became disenchanted with the lifestyle. In 1975, he began associating with a group of computer aficionados known as the Homebrew Computer Club. One member, a technical whiz named Steve Wosniak, whom Jobs had first met at Hewlett-Packard, was trying to build a small computer. Jobs became fascinated with the marketing potential of such a computer, and in 1976 he and Wosniak formed their own company. The team was content to sell circuit boards designed by Wosniak until the computer prototype was complete. That same year, Wosniak succeeded in designing a small computer, and using Jobs's parents' garage, the two men worked to refine and market the product.

Jobs saw a huge gap in the existing computer market, as no product was targeted for home use. Wosniak improved his initial computer while Jobs lined up investors and bank financing. Marketing manager A.C. Markkula eventually invested $250,000 and became an equal partner in the Apple Computer Company. With new capital, Jobs and Wosniak refined the prototype. The redesigned computer--christened the "Apple II"--hit the market in 1977, with impressive first year's sales of $2.7 million. In one of the most phenomenal cases of corporate growth in U.S. history, the company's sales grew to $200 million within three years. Jobs and Wosniak had opened an entirely new market, that of personal computers, bringing the computational speed of business systems into people's homes and beginning a new era information processing.

By 1980, the personal computer era was well underway. Apple was forced to continually improve its products to remain ahead in the growing marketplace. Competitors such as Radio Shack, Commodore, and International Business Machines (IBM) were gaining sales from Apple's market. In 1980, Apple introduced the Apple III computer, and improved version of the Apple II, but the new model suffered technical and marketing problems. It was withdrawn from the market, but was later reworked and reintroduced.

Jobs continued to be the marketing force behind Apple. He admitted that mistakes were made with the Apple III, but looked for innovative ways to meet new and existing consumer needs. Early in 1983, Jobs unveiled Lisa, another new computer, aimed this time at business executives. Lisa was designed for people possessing minimal computer experience. The model did not sell well, however, because of its high price and increased competition from IBM personal computers. By 1983, it was estimated that Apple lost half of its market share to IBM.

Faced with a declining market share, Apple introduced the Macintosh in 1984. In designing the model, Jobs apparently paid more attention to appearances than function. Although the Macintosh had "user-friendly" software and on-screen displays, Jobs failed to equip it with either a letter-quality printer or a hard disk drive. Lacking these features, the Macintosh did not sell well to businesses. The failure of the Macintosh signaled the beginning of Jobs's downfall at Apple Computer Company. In 1985, following a highly publicized showdown at Apple, Jobs resigned from the company he had founded, though he retained his title as chairman of its board of directors.

It was not long before Steve Jobs resurfaced, however. Soon after leaving Apple, he hired some of his former employees to begin a new computer company. The company was called NeXT, and Jobs invested $7 million of his own money to get it started. For three years, Jobs and his employees worked to produce the first NeXT computer, which was aimed at the educational market. Late in 1988, the NeXT computer was introduced at a large gala event in San Francisco. Initial reactions were generally good; the product was user-friendly, with very fast processing speed, excellent graphics displays, and an outstanding sound system. Other innovations included an optical disk drive instead of floppy disks, and a special sound chip to provide the fidelity of a compact disc. Judging from initial reactions, many critics were convinced that Steve Jobs had brought another revolutionary product to American consumers. But NeXT's product line never caught on, and sales languished.

NeXT was not, however, the end of Steve Jobs. Lightning, indeed, struck a second time. In 1986, Jobs paid filmmaker George Lucas $10 million for a small firm called Pixar that specialized in computer animation. "Over the next six years Jobs poured another $40 million of his own money into the company ... as it set out to make the first-ever computer-animated feature film," Time magazine reported in February 1996. That film was Toy Story, a huge box office hit. Pixar's initial public stock offering was an enormous success. The share price climbed dramatically, and Jobs's 80 percent stake in Pixar suddenly was worth $1 billion.

In December of 1996, Apple announced that it was purchasing Next Software for over $400 million. Jobs returned to Apple as a part-time consultant to CEO Gilbert Amelio. The following year, in August, Apple entered into a partnership with archrival Microsoft, in which the two companies. The alliance was an unprecedented one for the industry, but analysts predicted that Microsoft's support would ultimately save Apple, a company that had in the late 1990s come to serve a much more niche market than Microsoft. "We want to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose," Jobs said. In September of 1997, Jobs was named interim CEO of Apple while a replacement for the ousted Amelio was sought.

Jobs presented Apple's iBook, the company's newest entry into the portable computer market, at the Mac World convention in July 1999. The iBook was a clam-shaped laptop that was available in bright colors and included Apple's AirPort technology. AirPort was a computer version of the cordless phone that allowed the user to surf the Web wirelessly. Following his success with the stand-alone version of the iBook, the iMac, and later the G4 PowerMacs, which addressed the needs of the publishing and multimedia markets long dominated by the Macintosh, Jobs brought out a movie-making application, iMovie, that allowed non-experts to make their own home videos. Next came the iPod, an MP3 player which allowed users to carry over 1000 songs on one portable digital music player. To provide downloadable music for the iPod, iTunes was introduced as a means for users to obtain digitalized music. It also allowed novices to burn their own CDs. Another offering was an application that allows users to make their own DVD discs at home. In addition to acting as the long-standing interim CEO of Apple, Jobs was also chairman of Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar made the phenomenally successful films Toy Story 2, and A Bug's Life,, in addition to Toy Story,, all of which Disney distributed.

As the PC market slowed down, and many of his competitors were already lamenting the death of the PC, Jobs remained ebullient about its future. In 2001, he was instead prophesying about the coming age of the digital lifestyle, in which the computer would serve as the hub of a vast array of home appliances. "The personal computer has the power and the memory to do the things that all the devices we are beginning to use will not be able to do. The software will be the glue holding it all together," Jobs told Garry Barker of theage.com.au.

A 2004 bout with pancreatic cancer, from which he made a full recovery, took him away from leading Apple and Pixar for a short time. In April 2005, Jobs was named to the Time 100, the magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. In early 2006, he announced his intention to sell Pixar to Disney, its distribution partner, for about $7 billion. Meanwhile, though Apple held only a small percentage of the personal computer market, it was retaining its lead as an innovator in software and digital media. His annual fall product unveilings had become great dramatic events that thrilled tech fans and terrified the competition. In 2005, he announced the debut of video iPods and a new line of thin computers with video cameras built in. In 2006, he announced that entire films would soon become available for downloading on iTunes, and that in 2007, Apple would release a new device, first called iTV but quickly renamed Apple TV, which will stream video files from iTunes to TV sets via a wireless connection, so that viewers could watch iTunes files the same way they watch DVDs. The innovations had the potential of changing the way people buy films, much as iTunes had already changed the way people buy music. In January of 2007, at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Jobs announced that Apple would debut the iPhone, a high-tech cell phone that can also access the Internet and play songs downloaded from iTunes, that June. Jobs also announced that Apple Computer Inc. was shortening its name to Apple Inc., presumably to signify that inventions such as iTunes and the iPhone, rather than Macs, had become its signature products. The iPhone generated huge early buzz, though some industry observers argued that it faced hurdles because of its high cost, $499 to $599, and because it would only be available through Cingular Wireless.

Meanwhile, the same week, Jobs faced increased scrutiny in a growing scandal about Apple's backdating of stock options. Like many companies, Apple had given out stock options with effective dates chosen in retrospect because the stock had a low value on those dates, making the stock more valuable once it was sold. The company argued that Jobs had never benefited from two stock option grants he received, but some analysts disputed this. Executives at other companies had been forced to resign because of backdating scandals, but observers suggested that Apple would not force out Jobs because he was too important to the company's success.

The scandal eventually passed and Jobs' belief in the iPhone was confirmed when they sold an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 in the first weekend alone. Reviews of the device were similarly positive. By September 2007, sales of the iPhone increased when Apple reduced the price from $599 to $399, a move meant to help reach Job's goal of selling 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. In September 2007, Apple also introduced the newly redesigned line of iPods to similar acclaim. While also well received, the iPods were overshadowed by the hype over the iPhones. In 2008, Jobs and Apple introduced a faster cheaper iPhone, the iPhone 3G, which was only $199.

The continuing success of Apple was overshadowed, however, by Jobs' health problems. When he introduced new Apple products in the fall of 2008, he was quite gaunt and many were worried about the state of his health and its affect on his company. In January 2009, Job announced that he had a treatable hormone imbalance. Though he vowed to run Apple while receiving treatment, a few weeks later he stated that he was going to take a six-month medical leave of absence from his company because his health problems were more complex than originally believed. Chief operating officer Tim Cook took over Apple during this time period. By early June 2009, Jobs was sending some emails to Apple employees and it was revealed that he had undergone a liver transplant in April. His prognosis was considered excellent as Jobs returned to part-time work at Apple by July 2009. Still, many investors and observers were concerned that Jobs' health would eventually force him to leave Apple, creating many questions about the company's future without him.

Jobs' constant innovations led Business 2.0 to name him the fifth most important leader in business in 2006. It called him "easily the greatest marketer since P.T. Barnum" and a muse for innovators. "Is there anyone in American business today," the magazine asked, "whose style, creativity, and pugnacious genius are more celebrated?"

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