On this day, February 24 in the year 1955, the Silicon Valley’s most famous innovator was born in California, USA. His name was Steven Paul Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., the founder of NeXT Computers, and the majority shareholder of Pixar.
Steve was the adopted son of a former member of the Coast Guard and car repairman. While growing up in and around Silicon Valley, he learned a lot about electronics and actually tried his hand in building his own machine with parts supplied by Hewlett-Packard. He enrolled at the expensive Reed College in Oregon. There, he attended lectures in calligraphy and got interested in Zen Buddhism.
In 1974, Steve dropped out of college. After he returned to his parents’ home, he found a job at Atari, a developer of video games. Later, he left Atari and founded Apple Computers with his friend Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. In 1977, Apple was reportedly worth $5,309 but when it went public in 1980, it was valued at $1.79 billion. 300 people in the company suddenly became millionaires and the stake of Steve was worth $256 million.
It was said that Steve was very difficult to work with because he was perfectionist and was prone to cursing. In 1985, he was kicked out from his job by the board of directors. Though he was devastated, he was soon inspired to do the next best thing: establish another company. And so, NeXt Computers was born. The company was not very successful in hardware as he had envisioned. Instead, it developed an operating system called NeXTSTEP which was considered very advanced of its time.
In 1986, Steve agreed to invest in Pixar which at that time was developing an animated film for Walt Disney. He provided $10 million in cash and took the role of chairman. The title of the film was Toy Story and when it was released in 1995, it was a huge success. When Pixar was floated to the public, the original $10 million investment of Steve ballooned to $1.2 billion. In 2004, Pixar was sold to Disney for $7.4 billion.
In 1997, Apple was looking for a new operating system but at that time, the company was short on cash and it cannot afford to develop a new one. The new Apple CEO went shopping. In a reversal of fortune, he found NeXT and bought the company for $400 million. Eventually, Steve became CEO of Apple again.
In the succeeding years, Apple became the source of world-famous innovative products such as the iMac, iTunes, iPod, and iPhone. After stepping down as CEO in 2011, he succumbed to cancer which he had been suffering since 2004. He was 56. He was survived by his wife Laurene and his four children.