He ushered in the information age by transforming the way in which individuals connect with society, but now rumors of Steve Jobs health problems have caused concern among the very investors who have relied for years on this unusual inventor's knack for combining technical innovation and style.
Such reports have flashed across the internet before, however, and each previous health scare has seen Jobs return to form with the introduction of such products as the iPhone and the iPad. Though it may turn out that current stories about his ill health are also exaggerated, his life to this point, which has included stretches as a college drop-out, founder of a start-up business, and motion picture producer, is certainly worth reviewing.
EARLY LIFE: AN ADOPTEE WHO DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE AND FOUNDED A BUSINESSSteven Paul Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, on February 24, 1955 to Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali, both of whom were graduate students. Given up for adoption, Jobs was taken into the home of Clara and Paul Jobs of Mountain View, California. While attending high school in Cupertino, California, he sat in on lectures on computer science that were being given at the Hewlett-Packard Company. Eventually hired as a summer employee, it was at Hewlett-Packard that Jobs met Steve Wozniak, with whom he would later found Apple Computers. In 1972 Jobs enrolled at Portland, Oregon's Reed College but soon dropped out. Working odd jobs and frequently sleeping on floors in friends' dorm rooms, Jobs nevertheless continued to audit several classes at Reed. He would later cite a class he took on calligraphy at the school as a major inspiration for his later insistence that all Apple products combine elegant design with innovative technology.
Eventually returning to California, Jobs took a job as a technician with arcade-game manufacturer Atari. It was there that he enlisted the help of his old friend Wozniak to re-design the circuit board for the popular game 'Breakout'. Jobs, Wosniak, and Ronald Wayne would, with the financial support of former Intel employee Mike Makkula Jr., go on to found Apple in 1976.
DEVELOPING THE HOME COMPUTERThe notion that every individual could own and operate a computer was once considered a fantasy. Even as late as the early 1980s, most computers were large, bulky machines that required an understanding of computer programming to operate. Jobs, along with others in his generation, felt that computers could be simplified and, with the introduction of Apple's Macintosh, spearheaded the development of 'point and click' computers that has recently culminated in devices like the iPhone and iPad. Though heralded for its innovation and already possessing a loyal customer following, Apple nonetheless suffered losses, along with many other companies, when the bubble surrounding the electronics market burst in 1984. Boardroom maneuvers forced Jobs out of the company he had founded by the middle of 1985.
Believing that the next step in technology was the 'interpersonal' computer, Jobs founded NeXT Computing, a company that initially specialized in developing platforms for collaborative educational applications. In 1986 he also purchased the graphics division of Lucasfilm, eventually turning it into Pixar. Though Pixar's initial attempts at marketing a graphics-centered computer were unsuccessful, the company's fortunes reversed when it started developing animated films. When NeXT was eventually bought by Apple and Pixar by Disney, Jobs found himself in leadership positions within two major companies, one of which he had originally co-founded and been fired from.
By 1997 Apple's fortunes had turned sour. Jobs was asked to take over as Chief Executive Officer. He immediately ended development of various unprofitable projects and returned the company to its original philosophy of developing simple, aesthetically pleasing products. This emphasis on simplicity led, in turn, to the development of the iPod, iPhone, and, over a decade later, iPad. Each has transitioned the consumer further and further away from the use of elaborate desktop platforms that incorporate multiple pieces and are largely immobile.
STEVE JOBS' GROWING HEALTH CONCERNSSteve Jobs health problems first became a concern in 2004 when his pancreas was discovered to have a cancerous tumor. Though initially insisting on relying on a special diet instead of medical intervention to hold off the condition, Jobs eventually underwent what is called the 'Whipple Procedure' to remove the tumor. Though this operation appeared successful at first, Jobs' appearance at various conventions over the following years drove rumors that he was dying. In 2008 the Bloomberg business news agency even published his obituary. By 2009 Apple began to admit that his health concerns were more complicated than initially reported and that he was suffering from a hormonal imbalance. A January, 2011 video appearance and subsequent leave of absence from Apple led many to believe that Steve Jobs health problems had continued to deteriorate, causing the company's stock value to fluctuate.
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