August 27, 2011

Apple = Steve Jobs. Where The Story Began .

INNOVATIVE design has always driven Apple forward. With computers, they have gone from the boxy Apple II via the compact Macintosh Plus and stylish iBook laptop to the current-day iMac. The iPod was born in 2001, followed by the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in April 2010. The iCloud storage system is set to be a future hit.

It is the latest chapter in what is an extraordinary life story.

Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, to Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian student and later political scientist now known as John, and Joanne Carole Schieble. It was the 1950s and the couple were young and unmarried so the baby boy was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. He retold his adoption story during a now famous address to Stanford University in the US in 2005.

He said: "My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student and she decided to put me up for adoption.

"She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. "Except that when I popped out, they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl.

"So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking, 'We have an unexpected baby boy - do you want him?' They said, 'Of course'.

"My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college."

Jobs grew up in the town of Mountain View, California, among the fruit orchards that would one day become the technology hub Silicon Valley.

A(pple) team ... Steve Jobs with co-founder Steve Wozniak

The Bob Dylan fan showed an early interest in electronics. As a teenager he phoned William Hewlett, president of computer firm Hewlett-Packard, to ask for parts for a school project. He also landed a summer job with the firm where, as a 14-year-old in 1969, he befriended 19-year-old engineer Steve Wozniak.

Wozniak remembered: "We talked electronics, we talked about music we liked and we traded stories about pranks we'd pulled. "Typically, it was really hard for me to explain to people the kind of design stuff I worked on, but Steve got it right away. And I liked him. He was kind of skinny and wiry and full of energy." Jobs' parents then funded studies at Reed College, Oregon.

But despite his biological mother's wish for him to complete a college education, the future billionaire dropped out after just six months, later claiming it was "one of the best decisions I ever made". After spending time sleeping on friends' floors, he became interested in Eastern mysticism and took mind-altering drug LSD.

He said the acid trips were "one of the two or three most important things" he had done in his life. He began working for video game makers Atari before embarking on a spiritual trek to India. Aged 20, he took over his parents' garage and started Apple, copying the name of the record label of his beloved Beatles.

Groundbreaking ... Steve Jobs with Apple's Macintosh Plus in 1984

A year later, in 1976, Jobs and Wozniak designed the Apple I. In contrast to the firm's now obsessive design detail, the Apple I had no keyboard or display monitor and customers had to assemble it themselves. More models followed before the Macintosh became a 1980s sales hit. But Jobs was a hard taskmaster and clashed frequently with colleagues. He was ousted from Apple in 1986 following internal power struggles and a slump in sales.

However, by 1996 he was back at the then-struggling firm, which had come close to going under. In 2001, Jobs masterminded the launch of the iPod, which revolutionised portable music and kick-started Apple's commercial comeback. The firm have now sold more than 300million iPods.

Away from Apple, Jobs married Laurene Powell in 1991 in a Zen Buddhist ceremony. They have three children and Jobs has another born in 1978 to a San Francisco painter. Despite his huge professional success, Jobs has long been dogged by ill health. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and had surgery to remove a tumour.

Nice (i)Pad ... California home where Jobs founded Apple with Steve Wozniak

In 2009 he underwent a liver transplant - a possible consequence of the cancer drugs - but after taking time out to recover, he returned to the helm at Apple. It is Jobs' extraordinary vision and courage that has enabled him to revolutionise technology.

He once said: "Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become." On the release of the iPhone in 2007, Jobs insisted the handsets were "revolutionary and magical". His genius at branding and promotion has helped Apple sell more than 100million iPhones worldwide. Despite Jobs' track record with the iPod and iPhone, many failed to see the potential of Apple's tablet computer, the iPad. Critics panned it as little more than an "enlarged iPhone" when it was launched in April 2010.

But Jobs was not for turning and Apple are expected to sell more than 44million iPads in 2011 alone having seen it establish itself as the go-to digital platform for newspapers, magazines and video. On August 9, Apple briefly surpassed ExxonMobil to become the world's most valuable company. Google chairman Eric Schmidt said of Jobs yesterday: "He uniquely combined an artist's touch and an engineer's vision to build an extraordinary company - one of the greatest American leaders in history."

Stephen Fry, a long-time admirer of Jobs, said: "I don't think there is another human being on the planet who has been more influential in the last 30 years on the way culture has developed." In June - returning from open-ended medical leave - Jobs launched the iCloud, a system that can store all electronic content wirelessly on Apple servers and "push" them to your devices.

It is a typical piece of Steve Jobs innovation - daring, groundbreaking and a technology that could soon be in every home. Jobs may have stepped down from Apple's frontline, but his spirit of innovation will still be what drives the company into the future.

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