“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. 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.” Steve Jobs
Who can ever forget that mercurial genius and co-founder of ‘apple,’ and who branded Macintosh as ‘the computer for the rest of us’? None today, toddlers included, can escape the impression left behind the man, who left us grieving the loss of, not an individual, but a person who could have given us more. Apple has revolutionized the communication industry to such an extent that there is an apple for anyone of any age today. Whether it’s an iPad, the lucid iTunes, Mac I and II, Mac OS X, iBook or whatever, there is an apple for anyone with any application. His passion to make compact, and easily accessible computers to all, redefined the personal computer, music, mobile phones, books, magazines and films industries.
Steve Jobs’s untimely passing was given a lot of importance by the media. According to Edwards (2011), the news instigated “Heads of State from technocentric western economies to race one another to podiums in order to register their recognition of a man whose products had worked their way so effectively into the public pocket.” Jobs had seen it all; success and failure, victories and defeats and highs and lows, but in the end, he emerged as an icon who worked tirelessly to achieve his goal; developing a product that would work, and something consumers the world over would be eager to embrace.
Quite ironically, when Jobs died, he died a devoted family man with his wife and children at his bedside. This was something he missed as a child. He wasn’t welcomed by his parents, and his story began on a sad note. “His birth was complicated and all too human; yet, his story upends the notion that ‘unwanted’ children are doomed from the start” (Desmond (2011). Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, and died on October 5, 2011, in Palo Alto, California, at the age of 56.
While a lot of his public life is known, not much of his private life is available. Desmond follows the private life of Jobs through Walter Isaacson, who wrote his Jobs’ biography. Desmond says that he had always been intrigued to know the unknown, and closely guarded personal life of Steve Jobs, which Walter Isaacson’s newly released biography reveals. The sense of abandonment came back to haunt Jobs on numerous occasions, which ultimately contributed to his trademark non-conformism. Right from his childhood, Jobs suffered from the emotional wounds inflicted by his unmarried biological parents, who decided to put him up for adoption. He had joined the long list of ‘unwanted’ kids. The biography testifies Jobs’ personal view that children need a family for stability. There was a time when his mother even contemplated on terminating the baby inside her, but because of some reason, which he is not clear about, she delivers Steve Jobs.
Much later, after Jobs grew up, he expressed his gratitude that his mother didn't abort him. Jobs tried to find his biological mother, “a Midwestern graduate student raised in a Catholic family” wrote Isaacson, just to see if she was okay and thank her for not aborting him. She was 23 then. He finally met his emotionally charged mother, Joanne Simpson, who tearfully apologized for putting him up for adoption. According to the biography, it was learnt that in 1955, at the time of his birth, Joanne and his biological father, delayed their marriage because of the objections of their extended families. They did, however marry years later, and had a daughter by the name of Mona Simpson, a novelist now. Before meeting Joanne, Jobs’ adoption had been finalized. Abandonment hurt him a lot, and when once, on telling a close friend that he is adopted, and she replied that it was perhaps because his parents didn’t want him, he rushed home to seek the reassurance of his adoptive parents, Clara and Paul Jobs, who insisted that “they chose him specifically because he was very special to them.” Right from childhood, Jobs was a smart kid, and when his adopted parents, who maintained a modest home for him, took him to attend a Ludieran church, Jobs questioned God’s existence while questioning why he allowed for suffering in the world and rejected Christianity. His brilliance was also noticeable in elementary school, when teachers, impressed with his superior intelligence, suggested he skip several grades.
On his part, Paul Jobs, his adopted father, allowed Steve Jobs to do as he pleased. After passing from school, Jobs chose to study in an expensive private college, despite his family’s limited finances. However, after a semester at Reed College, when he realized it was difficult for his parents to pay his semester fees, he dropped out. “The combination of the experience of abandonment, and specialness,” says Isaacson, made Steve Jobs develop “a complex personal identity.” He was a non-conformist in the business world, and this worked to his advantage, but he could also be cruel and destructive. He despised the role of an adult, and when he learned that a live-in girlfriend was pregnant, he would question whether he was responsible for it. Despite his personal experience of surviving being aborted, he advocated abortion as a solution to unwanted pregnancy.
When Lisa, his daughter was born, he refused to acknowledge her as his own, and agreed that it was indeed his baby when a paternity test was run. It was only after this, that Steve began to pay for child support. Decades later, Laurene Powell, Steve’s wife and Lisa’s mother, told Isaacson that, “being put up for adoption left Jobs full of broken glass.” There are certain things that stay embedded in our mind, and for Steve, it was abandonment. Not surprisingly, a friend and co-worker at Apple made a similar observation when he told Isaacson that, “there were times when Steve couldn’t control himself from being reflexively cruel and harmful to some people. The underlying problem with Steve was the question of abandonment.” Jobs would dispute this diagnosis of his peculiar behavior, and to prove it, he married again and had three more children. They celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary before his death in 2011. He did say that he regretted the way he treated Lisa during her teenage years. Lisa did return home later, but they still had their tempestuous relationship, till just before his death. Jobs met his biological sister, Mona Simpson, with whom he developed a very close rapport. After Jobs’ death, “Mona offered a eulogy that reflected on the emotional scars inflicted by their biological father and die healing power of her brother’s love” wrote Isaacson. The eulogy read: “Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, 1 met that man, and he was my brother.”
“Jobs died on 5 October at the age of 56, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer,” wrote Tim O'Reilly (2011). Apple, which he co-founded in 1976 with Steve Wozniak, was among the first, to build and sell computers for the commoners. Gradually, the company transitioned into other communication domains and came out with Apple’s iPhone and iPad; their post-PC era portable devices accessed using cloud-computing applications. Steve, whose adopted father, Paul Jobs, was a machinist, taught him electronics. A part of his fascination for computers could have come from his after-school lectures that he attended near Hewlett-Packard. He later worked there as a summer employee, where he met and lured Steve Wozniak to join him in launching Apple Computer in 1976. There is something that seems to characterize greatness; like Gates before him, Jobs too dropped out of college. While Gates dropped out because of his lack of interest in studies, Jobs dropped out because he had no money to pay his semester fees. “His formative educational experiences were self-directed: learning about phone hacking, participating in the hobbyist Homebrew Computer Club, travel to India and experiments with LSD” (O’Reilly, 2011).
Jobs was passionate about his work and had big dreams, and in 1983, while inviting John Sculley, the president of Pepsi-Cola, to serve as Apple’s chief executive, Steve was said to have told Sculley, “Would you like to continue selling sugar water for the rest of your life, or would you like to join me and change the world?”
After he was unceremoniously ousted from Apple in 1985 by Sculley, Jobs founded NeXT, a high-end workstation company, which incorporated a user-friendly graphical programming environment called NeXTSTEP. The big thing for NeXT was when British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web; a feat which gave NeXT immediate recognition and was bought by Apple in 1996. The purchase of NeXT brought Jobs back in to the company, where he served as interim chief executive of Apple from 1997. He became the Chief Executive of Apple in 2000, and relinquished the post six weeks before his death. Before the success of NeXT, Jobs had acquired a computer graphics company from George Lucas in 1986, which he renamed Pixar. These were years of struggle, as Jobs shifted his focus into creating computer-animated films. It took him nine years to break into the limelight with Pixar, and with it was born, the Toy Story; a full-length feature film made entirely with computer-generated imagery in 1995. Pixar won 26 Academy Awards, 7 Golden Globes and 3 Grammy Awards for producing animated films, and turning animation movies into a multibillion-dollar industry. His other milestones include the development of the Apple II, the IBM PC, The Macintosh, Mac OS X, the iPod, the iPad.
O’Reilly, T, (2011), Steve Jobs (1955-2011), Jobs was one of the rarest of breeds: a business leader who was loved, Nature Publishing Group, Journal, Volume 479(7371), ISSN 00280836, p.42
Edwards, C, (2011), Engineering & Technology, Vol. 6 Issue 10, ISSN: 1750-9637, p30-31. DOI: 10.1049/et.2011.1002
Desmond, J. F, Steve Jobs: An ‘Unwanted’ Child, Human Life Review, Human Life Foundation, Incorporated, Volume 37(4), ISSN 00979783, p. 126-128