By Sergio Meana
Steven Paul Jobs was, as he called himself, “an unexpected child”. Since he was born (October 24th, 1955), Jobs’ story was different. His biological mother, Joanne Schieble, didn’t graduate from college and struggled constantly with her economical situation, so she decided to give her baby in adoption, but strictly to a couple which had graduated from college. Everything was set for Steve’s parents to receive him, but the couple that was going to adopt him decided at the last minute that they wanted a girl.
The adoption agency called another couple, Paul and Clara Jobs which were on the waiting list, and told them that they had an unexpected baby boy. They asked them if they wanted him. They said yes. Joanne, Jobs’ biological mother, found out that the Jobs never graduated from college, so she refused to sign the final adoption papers. It was until later, when the couple promised Joanna that Steve would go to college, that she signed.
Seventeen years later Steve did go to college. He enlisted at Reed College, but he dropped out only a few months later. Sleeping in friends’ floors, returning coke bottles for five cents and attending only the courses he really liked, Reed’s calligraphy courses, Steve found out what would later be the foundation of the Macintosh. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust the dots will somehow connect on your future,” said Steve Jobs at Stanford University commencement speech in 2005.
Steve went to India, became a Buddhist, experimented with psychedelic drugs and then returned home with a whole set of new ideas. “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences” –he once said– “so they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions”. He even suggested that his great rival, Bill Gates, , would be “a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger” (The Magician, The Economist, October 5, 2011).
According to the same magazine it was April Fools’ Day in 1976 when Steve Wozniak, Woz, and Jobs co-founded Apple Computer in his parents’ garage. They constructed the Macintosh One to be a computer “for the rest of us”: it had a mouse, understandable graphics and a user friendly interphase, instead of a green screen and a bunch of numbers.
After the success of the Macintosh One Steve had differences with John Sculley, Apple’s CEO, who came from PepsiCo to order Steve’s creativity chaos. The board sided with Sculley and Steve got fired from the company he and Woz had created.
“This was the best thing that could have happened to me,” he said the same day in Stanford. It was also one of the best things that could have happened to the world. In this period Jobs built NeXT, which had the technology of today’s Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios; he directed the project Toy Story, the first fully animated movie. Later on, Apple decided to buy NeXT and Steve returned to Apple.
The rest of the story you already know it. The whole world knows it. He changed the world… four times: the Macintosh in 1984 (invention of the mouse and advanced graphics); the iPod in 2001 (iTunes and one-dollar songs in 2003); the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. Plus, the film industry in which he established the standards for computer-animated movies. So, he completely changed the computer industry, the music industry, the mobile phone industry, the movies industry… and he even created a new one: the tablet industry.
According to the magazine New Revolution, Steve wasn´t a great human being. He destroyed some of Apple`s employees, and even parked in handicap reserved spaces, which shows no respect for other people. Sometimes, I picture him like a real Dr. House.
Also, people who knew him said he was a very egocentric person, obsessed with every detail; he felt that everything had to be constructed around him. For example, one night he called desperately an engineer to tell him that the color shade in a letter of one icon of the iPhone wasn’t yellow enough (A Genius Departs, The Economist, October 5, 2011). Creativity and being the kind of leader he was (for some, the best CEO of all times) had it costs. It wasn´t all a rainbow of colors.
The way I see it, creativity is the only thing that can differentiate us from other humans; it is why we create computers. Creativity is the core of life, of our work. Creativity is why we fight, is why we keep hope. Steve was a genius of creativity who had a gifted mind and was an exceptional leader (not a great human being) who could put on a show in black and white to give color to the world.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to loose, you are already naked, there is no reason not to follow your heart.
“Death is very likely the single best invention of life, it’s life’s change agent, it clears out the old to make way for the new,” Steve Jobs (1955-2011).