Steve Jobs -- From College Dropout to Apple Visionary

Oct. 6, 2011
Apple co-founder left an indelible mark on the world with his uncanny ability to marry hard-core technology with an understanding of human nature.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died Wednesday at age 56, left an indelible mark on the world with his uncanny ability to marry hard-core technology with an understanding of human nature.

In a rare personal moment at one of his last press events, he displayed a huge picture of street signs showing the intersection of "technology" and "liberal arts," saying that it was there that Apple was trouncing rivals.

Apple's announcement of Jobs's death came slightly more than a month after he had turned the helm over to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook.

A Perfection-Driven Personality

Jobs was known for a perfection-driven personality so fierce that it was the heart and soul of the firm.

Born on Feb. 24, 1955, in San Francisco to a single mother and adopted by a couple in nearby Mountain View at barely a week old, Jobs grew up among the orchards that one day would become the technology hub known as Silicon Valley.

As a high school student, he attended lectures at the Hewlett-Packard computer company in nearby Palo Alto and worked a summer job there with engineer Steve Wozniak.

Jobs left Reed College in Portland, Ore., after a single semester, but continued to take classes, including a calligraphy class he cited as the reason Macintosh computers were designed with multiple typefaces.

After a spiritual trek to India, he worked as a technician for video-game pioneer Atari and joined a "Homebrew Computer Club" with Wozniak, a fellow northern California college dropout.

He was just 21 and Wozniak 26 when they founded Apple Computer in the garage of Jobs's family home in 1976.

Under Jobs, the company introduced its first Apple computers and then the Macintosh, which became wildly popular in the 1980s.

Jobs was elevated to idol status by Macintosh computer devotees, many of whom saw themselves as a sort of rebel alliance opposing the powerful empire Microsoft built with its ubiquitous Windows operating systems.

He went from celebrity bachelor days that included a relationship with folk singer Joan Baez to settling into family life in Palo Alto.

Jobs married in 1991 in a ceremony presided over by a Buddhist monk. He had three children by his wife and a daughter with a woman he dated prior to marrying.

Jobs's NeXT Move

Jobs left Apple in 1985 after an internal power struggle and started NeXT Computer company, specializing in sophisticated workstations for businesses.

He co-founded Academy-Award-winning Pixar in 1986 from a former Lucasfilm computer-graphics unit that Jobs reportedly bought from movie-industry titan George Lucas for $10 million.

Apple's luster faded after Jobs left the company, but they reconciled in 1996 with Apple buying NeXT for $429 million and the co-founder ascending once again to the Apple throne.

Since then, Apple has gone from strength to strength with Jobs revamping the Macintosh line and giving the world the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and iTunes online shop.

Jobs underwent an operation for pancreatic cancer in 2004 but bounced back three years later with the hugely popular touchscreen iPhone.

He went on medical leave in January 2009 but returned to work later that year after undergoing a liver transplant.

For a time in August, Apple surpassed ExxonMobil as the world's most valuable company based on stock value.

'Have the Courage to Follow Your Heart and Intuition'

Known for his trademark mock black turtleneck shirt, blue jeans and running shoes, Jobs was prone to phrase comments in musical references involving his favorite artists such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life," Jobs told a Stanford University class in a 2005 commencement speech watched millions of times on YouTube.

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice," he advised. "And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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