Steve Jobs

15 Things you don’t know about Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was an iconic figure in the technology industry and one of the most influential innovators of our time. Many people are familiar with Jobs as the founder and longtime CEO of Apple, the company behind groundbreaking products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. However, even hardcore Apple fans may not know everything about this fascinating man. Here are 15 intriguing facts about Steve Jobs that shed light on his life, career, and legacy:

1. He was adopted at birth

Jobs was born in San Francisco in 1955. He was adopted shortly after birth by Paul and Clara Jobs, a middle-class couple living in the Bay Area suburb of Mountain View. His biological parents were Joanne Schieble, a graduate student, and Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, a Syrian-born teaching assistant. They were unmarried at the time and decided to put their baby boy up for adoption.

2. He dropped out of college after 6 months

In 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He dropped out after just 1 semester, having lost interest in formal education. However, he continued auditing creative classes at Reed while sleeping on the floor of friends’ dorm rooms and getting weekly free meals at a local Hare Krishna temple.

3. His first job was at Atari

After dropping out of college in 1974, Jobs took a job as a technician at video game manufacturer Atari. He was tasked with reducing the number of computer chips used in the arcade game Breakout. According to Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell:

“He did such an incredible job that I thought it would be great for him to become head of engineering. But he turned me down. He was very focused even back then on doing his own thing.”

4. He traveled to India to find spiritual enlightenment

In 1974, a 19-year-old Jobs journeyed to India with his college friend Dan Kottke, seeking spiritual enlightenment. They visited Hindu ashrams and Neem Karoli Baba at the Kainchi Dham ashram. Jobs later said of the trip:

“For me it was a serious search. I’d been turned on to the idea of enlightenment and trying to figure out who I was…India was where I found out that enlightenment is not what I thought it was.”

5. He knew great design when he saw it

On that same trip, Jobs was exposed to the intuitive design of the Volkswagen Beetle. He later said:

“I loved it. I thought it was the most amazing thing.”

He appreciated the Beetle’s user-friendly design – easy to drive and simple to repair. It reinforced his blossoming design philosophy.

6. He convinced Wozniak to start Apple

While working as a technician at HP, Jobs befriended Apple’s other co-founder Steve Wozniak. Wozniak had invented a personal computer circuit that Jobs saw the potential of. After much convincing, Jobs persuaded Wozniak to leave HP and start their own computer company – Apple Computers – in 1976.

7. He convinced Pepsi exec to quit his job

In 1982, Jobs convinced John Sculley, a PepsiCo executive, to join Apple as CEO by asking him:

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Sculley accepted the offer and ran Apple from 1983-1993.

8. He was fired from Apple in 1985

After power struggles with Sculley, Jobs was removed from his day-to-day role at Apple and resigned in 1985 at age 30. Sculley believed Jobs was hurting Apple and had started more projects than could be managed. It was a dark time for Jobs. As he later reflected:

“What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.”

Year Company Role
1976 Apple Founder
1985 Apple Resigned
1986 NeXT Founder
2006 Apple CEO

9. He bought Pixar from George Lucas

After being ousted from Apple, Jobs founded computer company NeXT. He also bought a small computer graphics division from Star Wars director George Lucas in 1986, which later became Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs invested $50 million in building Pixar into a leader in computer-generated graphics.

10. He met his biological sister for the first time in 1985

In 1985, Jobs learned that his biological sister was Mona Simpson, a successful novelist. They built a close relationship and Jobs referred to her as “one of my best friends in the world”. He had no other contact with his biological parents.

11. He hadn’t written a single line of computer code for Apple products

While Jobs was the visionary and marketing genius behind Apple, he did not create the actual product code. He knew little about programming but recognized great designers like Wozniak. Jobs simply had the foresight to invest in the right people.

As he said:

“I’m not a pro designer or engineer. I just know how to surround myself with really good people.”

12. His signature black turtleneck was inspired by Sony

The bold black turtlenecks that became Jobs’ staple attire were inspired by a Sony manufacturing facility in Japan. Jobs appreciated the uniformity that allowed employees to fit in. He adopted the turtleneck as his own trademark uniform to convey simplicity and conformity.

13. He convinced Microsoft to invest $150 million in Apple

When Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, he faced a dire financial situation. Apple stock was low and the company had 2 months of cash left. Jobs negotiated a deal for long-time competitor Microsoft to invest $150 million in Apple stock. The deal was announced at the 1997 Macworld Expo.

14. He originally opposed apps in the iPhone

Hard to believe now, but Jobs was against having 3rd party apps on the first iPhone in 2007. He wanted tight control of the platform. It took much persuasion to convince him to open the iPhone to outside developers. Once he relented, the App Store was born.

15. His annual salary at Apple was only $1

From 1997 to 2011, Steve Jobs earned only $1 per year in official salary from Apple. Of course, as majority shareholder, his Apple holdings made him a billionaire. But the low salary indicated how much he valued running the company over personal wealth.

Steve Jobs was a true visionary who trusted his intuition. He had brilliant foresight as well as a degree of frustration, arrogance, and rigidity. But these same traits allowed him to reshape multiple industries and create revolutionary technologies that are woven into the fabric of our lives. His innovations at Apple, Pixar and beyond continue to delight and inspire millions around the world.