Steven Paul Jobs (born February 24, 1955) is the co-founder and CEO of Apple and was the CEO of Pixar until its acquisition by Disney. He is currently the largest Disney shareholder and a member of Disney's Board of Directors. He is considered a leading figure in both the computer and entertainment industries.
Jobs' history in business has contributed greatly to the mythos of the quirky, individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of design while understanding the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal. His work driving forward the development of products that are both functional and elegant has earned him a devoted following.
Together with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs helped popularize the personal computer in the late '70s. In the early '80s, still at Apple, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse-driven GUI. After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher education and business markets. NeXT's subsequent 1997 buyout by Apple brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded, and he has served as its chief executive officer since his return.
Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco to American Joanne Carole Schieble and Syrian Abdulfattah John Jandali, a graduate student who later became a political science professor. One week after birth, Jobs was put up for adoption by his unmarried mother, who was also in graduate school. He was adopted by Paul and Clara (ne Hagopian) Jobs of Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California. They gave him the name Steven Paul Jobs. His biological parents later married and gave birth to Jobs' sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, whom Jobs did not meet until they were adults. The marriage of his biological parents ended in divorce years later. Jobs dislikes hearing the "adoptive parents" appellation applied to Paul and Clara Jobs and refers to them as his only parents. He attended Cupertino Middle School and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, and frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California. He was soon hired there and worked with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee. In 1972, Jobs graduated from high school and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Although he dropped out after only one semester, he continued auditing classes at Reed, such as one in calligraphy. "If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts," he said.
In the autumn of 1974, Jobs returned to California and began attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Wozniak. He took a job as a technician at Atari, a manufacturer of popular video games, with the primary intent of saving money for a spiritual retreat to India. During the 1960s, it had been discovered by phone phreakers (and popularized by John Draper) that a half taped-over toy-whistle included in every box of Cap'n Crunch breakfast cereal was able to reproduce the 2600 Hz supervision tone used by the AT&T long distance telephone system. After reading about it and later meeting with John Draper, Jobs and Wozniak went into business briefly in 1974 to build "blue boxes" that allowed illicit free long distance calls.
Jobs then backpacked around India with a Reed College friend (and, later, first Apple employee), Daniel Kottke, in search of philosophical enlightenment. He came back with his head shaved and wearing traditional Indian clothing. He returned to his previous job at Atari and was given the task of creating a circuit board for the game Breakout. According to Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari had offered $100 for each chip that was reduced in the machine. Jobs had little interest or knowledge in circuit board design and made a deal with Wozniak to split the bonus evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. Much to the amazement of Atari, Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, a design so tight that it was impossible to reproduce on an assembly line. At the time, Jobs told Wozniak that Atari had only given them $700 (instead of the actual $5000) and that Wozniak's share was thus $350.