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Chances are You're Reading This On Something From the Mind of Steve Jobs
It began in a garage. Up until the 1970s, technology had developed at a relatively sluggish pace. People relied on books for all the information they wanted. However, once Apple was born, the rate of technology development skyrocketed. The extraordinary man who led Apple on its exhilarating journey, and changed the world through electronic devices, was Steve Jobs.
Through his lifetime, it is easy to say that Jobs faced many challenges and setbacks. If the question “how’s life?” was asked of him, the answer “life’s good” would be cordially replied. But when these words were spoken, what do they mean? Was he actually and truthfully enjoying his life? Or simply, was he enjoying a journey on the way to a common, ultimate goal? If Steve Jobs was asked this question, he would reply the latter. Because when he faced a challenge, he looked at it as part of the journey to the ultimate goal. The fun is in the journey, and the journey ends when you reach that goal. So why be upset about a challenge when it could be taken as a gift?
Jobs grew up in Silicon Valley just south of San Francisco. At a young age, Steve was taught basic electronics and how to work with his hands by his father, Paul Jobs. Also at this time his mother, Clara, Jobs taught him how to read. These two influences put him on the road to success, which would carry him through grade school and into the future.
After completing 12th grade, Jobs enrolled at Reed College. Although he stayed only one semester, it proved fruitful. One of the courses he took was all about calligraphy. Jobs later said: “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would never have had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.” These additions to Apple products further immerse the user in Jobs’ concept of simplicity and ease of use. This, along with many other life experiences, helped Jobs to become who he was destined to be.
Throughout his life post-college, Jobs had shown an interest in religion. It even got to a point where he was walking seven miles every Sunday to temple Hare Krishna, all just to receive a free meal and bask in the religious glory. He had also shown an interest in India’s famous religious leader, Mahatma Gandhi. Some of Gandhi’s main philosophies were about simplicity. Jobs took much from Gandhi’s ways and even took a seven-month journey through India. There he was exposed to Buddhism, which showed him how less is more and how interesting simplicity can be. With this new knowledge, Jobs launched his career.
On one fateful day in 1971 during his internship at Hewlett-Packard, Steve Jobs was introduced to one of many random employees working there. The two of them hit it off (thank goodness), and in 1976, this unlikely duo co-founded the company that would eventually change America. After a few start-up years, they launched their first product, the Apple I. Even with all their hard work preparing for this, the Apple I was unsuccessful. However, in 1977 they released the Apple II, which redeemed the company. By uniting Wozniak’s technical skills with Jobs’ design skills they took their product to the next level, and the Apple II became a best-seller.
Ensuing Jobs’ success with the Apple II, he decided to take Apple in a new direction. During a visit to the company Xerox, Jobs spotted prototypes for a computer controller called a “mouse.” He had a vision that someday all computers would have one of these soon to be revolutionary devices, since they were much more efficient than inputting commands using a keyboard. Back at headquarters, he had his team develop his own version of the mouse and in no time at all they had released the Macintosh line, which highlighted this technological feat. Jobs divulged, “We have always been shameless about stealing good ideas.”
With all this good fortune, something was bound to go wrong, and in 1985 that’s exactly what happened. A few poor products caused Jobs’ decision-making power to be revoked. Outraged by this betrayal, he resigned. Jobs decided to continue in the technology business, so that same year he introduced his own computer company called NeXT. Still, he couldn’t find his groove. NeXT’s overpriced, ahead-of-its-time products just wouldn’t sell. Disheartened, Jobs decided to pursue a new path.
Jobs purchased the company The Graphics Group and used it to found Pixar. It debuted the following year in 1986. Even though it took Jobs just two years to find his new calling, it took him nine whole years after that to produce his first film. Fortunately, it was worth the wait. From Toy Story’s release to the end of 1995, it earned a whopping $361 million worldwide. It was a revolutionary film that astonished viewers with its entirely computer animated format. One of Toy Story’s greatest strengths was that it appealed to a wide audience: kids liked the toys and adults connected with the various characters.
During Jobs’ triumph in Hollywood, Apple had some success with the PowerBook, however they couldn’t flourish with other lines or products. Desperate for Jobs’ talent, they purchased NeXT in 1996. This brought Jobs back to Apple, and in no time at all, he was the face of technological innovation once again.
It took just two more years for Apple’s latest bestseller, the iMac, to come out. Jobs had done the unthinkable. He had made computers fun. With its transparent outer case and color variety, Apple sold over two million of them in 1998 alone. A year later, Jobs defied the odds. Again. The iMac was America’s bestselling computer.
Apple’s next technological feat was announced on January 9, 2001. iTunes refashioned the way people purchased and experienced music. All that was needed now was a convenient way to listen to the music. That came just ten months later, when Apple released the iPod. Lugging around fifteen or twenty CDs was a thing of the past. For six years straight, Apple sold more than 40 million iPods annually. Music was changed forever.
For eight more years, Apple’s presence in the personal computing world remained strong. But in 2007, the highlight of Jobs’ and Apple’s journey came with the creation of the iPhone. This revolutionizing moment in history transformed all communication technology. With many new or improved features, like full Internet, a wider screen for viewing pictures and movies, user-friendly interface, and a super simplistic design, the iPhone quickly became America’s favorite phone. Jobs mused, “Every once in awhile, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” This was definitely one of those products.
Three years later, Apple’s newest addition was welcomed to the family. A sleek, lightweight, lustrous, touch-screen tablet primarily used for reading books, watching movies, listening to music, using apps, and surfing the web, it was a portable sensation. In April of 2010 Apple released the first iPad to America. Apple sold over 300,000 of them during the first day alone. Things only got better for Apple when, at the end of the year, three out of every four PC tablets purchased were purchased at an Apple store.
While Jobs triumphed in his professional life, he struggled in his personal life. In 2004 he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery. Luckily, it was successful and resulted in a tumor being removed, but questions of his health remained. Those questions were answered in 2009 when he received a liver transplant. He then returned to Apple that same year after a short leave of absence. Jobs remained ill for two more years and finally was forced to retire from Apple in August of 2011. Then two months later Steve Jobs was forced to retire from life.
And though Jobs hadn’t known his life was coming to a close when he spoke to a graduating class at Stanford, he was passing on his single most important mandate for all those who wish to live a fulfilling life: “And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They some how already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”