Chances are you’ve heard of an iPhone before and probably an iPad. What about an iMac, an iPod, and a Macbook? These are all devices created by a company called Apple. Did you know last year they sold more than 40 million iPhones; and over 2 billion since they started creating them! That is a lot of phones! Did you know the very first Apple computer was created in a garage by two guys named Steve? And at one point it looked like Apple might fail. Pretty crazy, right? Well, tonight we’re going to learn about one of those Steves named Steve Jobs and how he came to create Apple and all of the billions of devices that came with it over the years.
Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California to a woman named Joanne Carole Schieble. Steve’s father’s name was John Al Jandali and he was an immigrant from Syria, which is a country in the Middle East. He left Syria because it was dangerous at the time. But even before Steve was born, his mother decided it was best to give him up for adoption, because she and his father weren’t ready to have a family together.
Baby Steve’s new adoptive parents were named Paul and Clara Jobs. They weren’t able to have their own children, so they were very excited for Steve to join their family. Later in life, Steve said he was fortunate to have them as parents and they showed him lots of love. A couple of years after adopting Steve, Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a girl, giving Steve a sister. Not long after this, they moved to Mountain View, California, where Steve’s dad worked as a machinist. A machinist is someone who works in a shop building different types of machines. At home, his father had a shop in their garage and often he and Steven worked on their car and built things. Steve was impressed that his father could build so many things and it made him interested in doing the same. But mostly he just enjoyed spending time with his father.
Growing up Steve struggled in school. He liked to play pranks and often didn’t listen to his teachers. But he was a pretty smart kid, so his parents often thought it was because he was too bored with what was being taught and he needed more challenging problems to solve. In 4th Grade, Steve’s teacher was named “Teddy” Hill and she told him that if he’d complete his math workbook she’d give him 5 dollars. Steve jumped at the chance and quickly worked through all of the problems in the workbook. For the first time, he was excited about doing school work and realized if he put effort into learning it could actually be fun! Have you ever had a problem to solve and completed it and it felt good inside?
Steve’s next few years in school were tough. In Middle School, he was often bullied and didn’t have any close friends. It feels horrible to be bullied. Be sure to never treat others this way. Or if you’re being treated this way be sure to let someone like a caring parent or teacher know! Because of the bullying, Steve was transferred to a new school. It was expensive for his parents to move to a better neighborhood, but they loved Steve and wanted the best for him so they did it anyway.
In his new school, Steve found more kids like himself and especially those who were interested in subjects like engineering — which is the science of building things. His other favorite subject in high school was literature, which means reading and studying good books. He especially loved books by the English writer William Shakespeare.
In high school, Steve became friends with another student named Steve Wozniak. Wozniak loved electronics, too, and after they graduated high school they worked together to build their first device called a “blue box,” which allowed someone to make long-distance calls for free. They thought it was pretty cool that they were able to create a device that did something so useful. They sold the blue boxes and it was at this time that Steve realized building devices could be fun — and make money! This was also a time when Steve wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life and just took college classes for fun. One of his favorite classes was about calligraphy, which means writing beautiful lettering with ink.
One of Steve’s first jobs was at a company called Atari, one of the very first video game companies. During this time he also traveled to India and learned about Buddhism and meditation, which he often used throughout his life. After returning home, Steve started tinkering with Steve Wozniak again, who was building a computer. At this time computers weren’t as common as they are now, most people did not have a computer in their home. Most people never imagined they’d own a computer. Steve Jobs thought they could sell their computers, so they spent time working on them in the Jobs family garage. To buy parts Jobs sold his car and Wozniak sold his favorite calculator. One day after spending the morning at an apple orchard, Steve Jobs told Wozniak he thought they should call the computer “Apple.” It was also his favorite fruit. “Apple” later became the name of their computer company.
The two Steves and the people they hired built more computers and sold them and later Steve found others to invest in Apple computers. Investment is when someone with extra money gives you their money to help your business grow. But you have to agree that when your business starts to make money you’ll give them that money (and hopefully more) back. This is how most companies grow today.
At this time Steve started shaving his head like the Buddhist priests he admired and wearing a black turtleneck, which later became his signature outfit.
Apple computers began to sell even more computers as they focused on selling computers for personal use. They wanted everyone to have a computer in their home and to be easy to use. Soon Apple was a very profitable company and by 1980 worth over 1 billion dollars! At this time Apple competed with IBM, which was the other very big computer company selling computers for home use.
In 1984 Apple released the Macintosh computer, which did well but still couldn’t sell more than IBM. The new President of Apple and even friends like Steve Wozniak didn’t like the way things were being done at Apple and Wozniak left. The new President of the company decided that although Steve Jobs started Apple, he was also causing problems for the company. Steve eventually left to start a new company.
This was a frustrating time for him as he struggled to start a new company, which ended up failing. You can imagine that many would stop trying when they failed, but Steve wasn’t the type to give up. He kept exploring different ideas and eventually became interested in computer graphics. At the time there were a group of graphics designers who were doing some pretty cool things with computer graphics. They were tinkering with 3D models and working to make graphics on the computer more realistic. If you’ve seen graphics from old computers they don’t look very real like the video games and animated movies you see today. Steve used some of his money from Apple to buy The Graphics Group and together under the direction of John Lassetter they created their first computer-animated movie called Toy Story! I’ll bet you’ve heard of Toy Story. This Graphics Group was renamed Pixar and later became part of Disney making such movies as Cars, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, Monsters Inc., Inside Out, Coco, and most recently Onward. Yes, Steve Jobs is one of the people to thank for the creation of Pixar and all of these amazing movies!
After starting Pixar, Apple computers asked Steve Jobs to return and run the company. There he oversaw the creation of the new iMac computers, which were powerful, efficient, and designed elegantly as Steve wanted. Steve loved designing beautiful devices and spent many, many hours thinking about how the devices looked and trying different designs until they were nearly perfect in his eyes. He believed that electronics needed to be powerful on the inside but also be enjoyable to look and feel a certain way that was pleasurable to the user. If you notice this is one way that Apple devices are different.
iPods and iPhones
At Apple Steve also helped design the iPod, which played digital music. Later helped design one of the first smartphones, the iPhone, which wowed the world with its powerful computer on the inside, its beautiful design, its many features, and its app store. The iPhone was the device that really made Apple popular again. Before smartphones, computers and phones were separate devices. With inventions like the iPhone, they became one and the same. This was a revolutionary technology that even your parents didn’t grow up with. You’ve probably heard them say “I didn’t have a phone when I was your age.” Because it’s true, personal phones you could carry around weren’t invented yet! Early on most computers were so big they took up an entire room. Now they fit in the palm of your hand. We live in a pretty amazing time, right?
In October 2003 Steve was diagnosed with cancer and tried to get rid of it in many different ways. Slowly others took over his positions at Apple until in 2011 he passed away.
Later Apple also created the iPad and many new iMac computers, iPhones, Macbooks, and many other original devices up until today. Apple soon grew to be one of the most profitable companies in the world and today Apple devices can be found everywhere. Over 47,000 people work for Apple in locations across the world. It’s incredible to think what has come from someone like Steve who worked very hard to build his company and create these devices. And remember, he didn’t do it alone! His friend Steve Wozniak helped him create the first computer, and over the years many people who work for Apple helped come up with the designs and parts that have made these devices so incredible. Do you think you’d like to work for a company like Apple someday? For fun, you’ll have to look into the type of jobs there. It might be design or coding. If you are interested, think about what you might do to start learning some of these basic skills.