Mon, 15 June 2015
There are many things that will surprise you from a Steve Jobs biography.
We all feel that we know the man well.
We have read the stories of success, heard the tales of peculiar behavior and used the products that the man left behind.
But what you will find when you start researching Steve Jobs, is a man who I don't think anyone will truly understand.
A man with so many layers of personality, and distinct characteristics, that we all had the potential to see the type of person that Steve Jobs wanted us to see.
So where do we start on the Join Up Dots take, on the Steve Jobs Biography?
Well we can clearly see on the Join Up Dots timeline, that Steve Jobs was from the moment he was born looking for identity.
Steven Paul Jobs was brought into the world on the 24th February 1955 in San Francisco California, by two students of the University of Wisconsin, who for whatever reason felt that this new born boy, who would grow up to become the king of techonology, was not theirs to keep.
Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, played such an amazing part in bringing this child to the world, but would also play such a small part too, and gave the young Steve Jobs up for adoption shortly after birth.
And this was one of the dots in the Steve Jobs biography that Steve spoke so candidly about in 2005, when he addressed the graduating students on Stanford in a commencement address that has become a firm favourite to the world.
Not least becoming the basis of what became the theme behind the show “Join Up Dots with David Ralph”
The Steve Jobs Biography is a fascinating tale of clearly defined dots that shape what he was going to become right from the start, which would make it fascinating if we could ever go back in time and show the young Steve Jobs the steps that he should take.
Would he follow them, or would this young child with such a fascination for technology, and understanding of the components that made early electronic devices work, listen?
Well probably not, but you can see in the Steve Jobs biography those dots were clearly working in his favour right from the start.
His adopted parents lived in Mountain View California, which would fortuitously become what is known as silicon valley in later years, planting the budding entrepreneur in the centre of where he would later go on to rule.
His father, Paul Jobs who worked as a Coast Guard veteran and machinist, also had an interest in electronics and would show his young son from the confines of the family garage (the birthplace of Apple) how to take electronic devices a part, and then have the confidence to put them all back together.
Paul Jobs could have had fishing as a hobby, but once again the Steve Jobs biography shows that the skills that he would later utilize to such astonishing success were laid before him.
Yes of course, he needed the interest and persistence to make these skills work, but Steve Jobs was nothing but tenacious when that interest was in evidence.
A completely different Steve Jobs, to the one we would see throughout his career when he was bored, or things didn't quite go his way!
And those opposing, and not so dynamic and conscientious personality traits, were more than evident to everyone during his schooling. Steve Jobs was an innovative thinker. He could see things long before most people had started to even consider there was even something to be seen.
Which meant that during school, he struggled with the confines of formal schooling, and the structure of his lessons which as we all know, more often than not are anything but innovative.
The young Steve Jobs, would attempt to keep himself entertained by playing pranks and creating mischief, even once being bribed by his fourth grade teacher to get his head down and study.
But there was no getting away from the fact that being born to two University graduates had provided him with the genes of intelligence. And school tests, even from a boy who had little interest in the work were a breeze. He would sail through the testing with such apparent ease that the school administrators were keen to push him ahead to High School, which his parents were reluctant to sanction.
So already at school age, the Steve Jobs biography shows that we have a child who is living smack bang in the middle of the soon to be formed Silicon Valley, had an interest in electronics, possessed an innovative and questioning mind, and was born in 1955.
And this last fact is probably one of the most interesting of all, as Malcom Gladwell attested to in his bestselling book the Outliers” in the chapter “Timing Is Everything”
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was born in 1953, Apple founder Steve Jobs in 1955, Sun Microsystems founders Bill Joy and Scott McNealy in 1954, Bill Gates in 1955.
Which made them the prime age when the first do it yourself home computers came to market in 1975.
Old enough to see the potential, and risk their futures by working on what someone already established in a career in computers would consider too much a risk to take on.
But not old enough to be already settled down with children and responsibilities, frightened to take the leap of faith and risk what they had already gained in life.
All of them fascinated with what was in front of them, and on their own paths to becoming household names in computing, making them richer than anyone could hope to be.
So we are building quite a list of dots on the Join Up Dots timeline, and of course the Steve Jobs biography.
We can now add perfect timing of his birth, to the perfect location, an interest in electronics, questioning mind, and a passion to go against the norm.
We can almost see already, the Steve Jobs that we would see a few years later, in the young man huddled over a box of wires and fuses.
But no matter how inspired and intellectual a person is, they will need the support of others.
And Steve Jobs found this when he was introduced to Steve Wozniak, who became his future business partner.
The two hit it off straight away, and as Wozniak spoke about in a 2007 interview, it was obvious from the start that the two had similar outlooks and passions. Passions that back in the early years of the 1970’s very few people had.
As he says “We both loved electronics and the way we used to hook up digital chips. And very few people, especially back then, had any idea what chips were, how they worked and what they could do. I had designed many computers, so I was way ahead of him in electronics and computer design, but we still had common interests. We both had pretty much sort of an independent attitude about things in the world.”
And that was how Steve Jobs life was throughout High School. Limited interest in what was happening within the education system, but along with Wozniack fascinated and consumed by the potential outside its walls.
And now in the Steve Jobs biography we arrive at that definitive time in his life.
The definitive time in everyone's life. They are now ready to go out into the world as young adults and create their own paths.
Would Steve Jobs follow the course that so many people follow and play it safe, getting a job just because it's money in the bank, following in the footsteps of his father, or would he strive boldly into a new future, and create his legacy.
Well surprisingly Steve Jobs did neither, and even against a background off disinterest in studying and education, Steve Jobs enrolled in Reed College in Portland Oregon.
This appears a decision that was not well thought out, as Steve Jobs quickly realised that he wasn't suited for further education and made the decision to drop out of college and do his own thing.
And that thing was to start attending classes that he thought would be interesting.
He would choose classes to attend, just because he was intrigued by their content, not because how they would look on his resume.
One of those classes, as Steve Jobs recounted once again in the Stanford Commencement address changed his life. The course was in calligraphy, and developed the love of typography that he brought to the world in such a dramatic and successful way with his first foray into the home computer market.
As he said to the students hanging on his every word on that day “None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.”
In 1974, the Steve Jobs biography shows, what you would think was a great starting point to his career as a computer genius, and the young Jobs accepted a position with the promising and innovative games company Atari, as a video game designer.
Atari would go onto to dominate the home games console market in the late seventies and early eighties, with children across the world clambering for one of these wooden boxes that they could plug into their television sets. The demand was astonishing.
But Steve Jobs would not play a big part of the success of the company, as just six months later he quit, to go and find himself by traveling the huge continent of India, high on drugs most of the time.
When he did return to the United States of America it was now 1976, Steve Jobs was twenty years old and about get serious about what he saw the future of home computing to be.
Alongside his friend Steve Wozniak, still spending hours and hours inside the Jobs family garage, they would create what would grow to become the most valuable company on Earth.
The two friends set to work experimenting with the knowledge that they had fostered, more often than not unknowingly throughout their lives.
The hours spent fiddling with chips, and electronic circuit boards as a hobby, now finding its true importance in their lives.
Which is of course one of the truths of every episode of Join Up Dots.
Perceived failures, or what seemed like pure time wastage can later on turn out to be the holder of the very thing that you are looking for.
And that was certainly the case with young Mr Steve Jobs.
However greatness does not appear without a belief and a willingness to take risks. And the Steve Jobs biography is littered with incidents where he seemed to have the desire to go further and quicker than anyone else around him would consider acceptable..
Selling his Volkswagen bus, whilst his friend Wozniak sold his beloved scientific computer they funded their fledgling enterprise, and began to work changing the world. Empowering every home to believe they could posses their own computer, which several years previously would have been thought an impossible dream.
With Jobs in charge of marketing— Apple, which they decided to call their untested enterprise, initially marketed the computers for $666.66 each. The Apple I earned the corporation around $774,000. Three years after the release of Apple's second model, the Apple II, the company's sales increased by 700 percent, to $139 million.
Not bad for two guys, who just three years before were unsure as to which direction their future would go.
However this was simply the beginning of what Apple was to become and in 1980, Apple Computer became a publicly traded company, with a market value of $1.2 billion.
By the end of its very first day of trading, and buoyed by its success Jobs looked to find someone with the business acumen and vision to drive the company to even greater heights, and made the decision to bring marketing expert John Sculley of Pepsi-Cola in as the President of Apple.
A decision that among all the decisions made in the Steve Jobs biography was as bad for Steve as it could possibly be.
A decision that would bring Steve Jobs to one of the lowest points of his life, being told to leave the company he had founded.
Steve Jobs was sacked from Apple.