For over a decade, Steve Jobs became the man in a black turtleneck and dad jeans, proudly displaying the latest gadget. The simple wardrobe contrasted with the technologically complex item in his hand.
Steve Jobs with Bill Gates [Image Source: Joi Ito via Flickr]
Jobs died in 2011 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. His legacy inspired not one but two movies about his life, neither of which could successfully tap into exactly who he was. So how did this average guy from San Francisco, California become one of the biggest names in technology history?
The Life and Career of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was adopted shortly after his birth in 1955. His birth parents were both University of Wisconsin grad students. Clara and Paul Jobs adopted him. Paul took Jobs into his garage frequently to tinker on electronics. That hobby boosted the confidence in young Steve.
And speaking of Steve’s, Jobs met the other Steve in Apple – Steve Wozniak – while in high school. “Woz” was attending UC Berkeley at the time, and said in a later interview that he and Jobs clicked over their passion for electronics.
Jobs took a position with Atari in 1974 but quit a few months later. He and Woz founded Apple Computer in 1976. By 1980, Apple Computer was a publically traded company and Jobs listed John Sculley of Pepsi to become CEO of Apple. However, after some design failures in Apple’s products, Sculley phased Jobs out, and by 1985, Jobs had left the company he started.
[Image Source: Matthew Yohe via Wikimedia Creative Commons]
He bought Pixar Animation Studios shortly after, and he invested $50 million into the company. That company would later produce works like the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo, and Cars. The studio merged with the Walt Disney Company in 2006. This made Jobs one of Disney’s largest shareholders.
Jobs returned to Apple in 1996 as Apple CEO. The iMac and rebranding boosted consumer confidence in the products once again. He revolutionized the industry in both computers and the development of the iPhone, which recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary.
In 2003, doctors diagnosed Jobs with pancreatic cancer. In 2004, he had a successful surgery to remove the tumor, but he was warned it was an extremely aggressive form of cancer. He never disclosed much about his health or his struggle. His death in 2011 came as a shock largely due to his privacy about the issue. He was only 56 years old.
From such a man comes equally inspiring words of wisdom. Here are some of our favorites below:
On making innovation personal:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” (Steve Jobs’s commencement address to Stanford)
On death and the beauty of living:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” (Steve Jobs’s commencement address to Stanford)
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.” (Wall Street Journal, 1993)
On why innovation matters:
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” (The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success by Carmine Gallo)
On why the unexpected could be the best thing ever:
“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” (Steve Jobs’s commencement address to Stanford)
You can relive one of the most exciting moments in Apple (and recent tech) history in the video below: