Remembering Steve Jobs on his 67th birthday

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 24
How the circumstances of Steve Jobs's birth, and his decisions over education, would shape both his entire life -- and then the entire world through the creation of Apple and the Macintosh.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs


The Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, and brought up by his adoptive parents, Paul and Clara Jobs. While he would later dismiss the idea that the circumstances of his adoption had any influence on him, he was born straight into a dispute over a deal, and startling signs of his later strengths and weaknesses were there from his early years.

Delaying the adoption

His mother, Joanne Schieble, had wanted him to be adopted by a college-educated couple, but that didn't happen. She and his father, Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, had left their home in Wisconsin specifically so that Jobs would be born in San Francisco -- where an adoption was arranged.

The arrangement was made by what Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson calls "a kindly doctor," but there was a problem. Jobs was a boy. The lawyer and his wife who had arranged to adopt him, decided they wanted a girl instead, and so pulled out of the deal.

This doctor found an alternative couple, but Jobs's mother reportedly held out for weeks after the birth, refusing to sign the necessary paperwork. She ostensibly did so because Paul and Clara Jobs were not college-educated, but there was another reason.

In truth, Schieble and Jandali did not actually want to give up their son. Her Wisconsin family had objected to the idea of their marrying, but her father was ill. She held on to the paperwork as long as possible in the hope that he would die, and she would be able to marry Jandali.

Steve Wozniak (left) and Steve Jobs in the earliest days at Apple
Steve Wozniak (left) and Steve Jobs in the earliest days at Apple


Her father did die -- and she did marry Jandali -- but not until after she had finally signed the adoption papers. Schieble made it a condition of the adoption that Paul and Clara Jobs would open a college fund for the boy.

In later life, both friends and colleagues of Steve Jobs would put some of his more difficult behavior down to how he had been adopted, and that this had made him feel abandoned.

Andy Hertzfeld, co-developer of the Mac, is one of those who attributed Jobs's occasional cruelty to this. "That goes back to being abandoned at birth," he told Isaacson. "The real underlying problem was the theme of abandonment in Steve's life."

Ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan, gave the same reason for why Jobs originally denied being the father of their child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs. "He who is abandoned is an abandoner," she said.

Jobs himself vehemently denied this throughout his life, however, calling Paul and Clara Jobs "my parents 1,000%."

Family pressures

He still wasn't above putting his adoptive parents under pressure, although they were hardly easy on themselves, either. While they were saving for his college fund, they also moved house to get him into a better school.

Consequently, Steve Jobs grew up in a single-storey ranch house at 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California, which put him in the Cupertino school district. And was just four miles from where he would eventually found Apple Park.

It would be at Homestead High School there that he would first start meeting up with Steve Wozniak, and would begin making more connections within Silicon Valley.

But it was college that may have been more key. This time it was his choice of where he wanted to go, and it was an expensive one. Steve Jobs insisted on going to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and he insisted on it despite the fees being difficult for his family.

However, in what may have been an early example of his total determination on one route, followed by an about-face, and insistence on a different idea, Jobs then dropped out of Reed College.

He later said that this was in part because of the financial strain on his family, that he hadn't felt right making them spend all their money. But it was also because he didn't like the classes.

Apple Park is a ten-minute drive from where Steve Jobs grew up.
Apple Park is a ten-minute drive from where Steve Jobs grew up.


And in what is surely an early example of his ability to get people to do what he wanted, Jobs persuaded Reed College to let him carry on there. He had no mandated classes, yet he was allowed to continue living on campus, and was actively encouraged to drop in to any class he was interested in.

Nature and nurture

Whether his adoption did or didn't cause feelings of abandonment, and whether his "reality distortion field" did or didn't begin at Reed College, one thing certainly started there.

It was because he could take any class he wanted, that Steve Jobs sat in on ones about calligraphy and typography.

He was already reading, he said, "more outside of just science and technology," and by this stage was steeped both in computing and the liberal arts.

You can't pin down a man's life to how he was born, and what he studied. However, you can trace the Macintosh and the whole of Apple to the combination of nature and nurture that Steve Jobs was exposed to in his early years. And on what would have been his 66th birthday in 2021, Tim Cook acknowledged this once more in a tweet.

Celebrating Steve on what would have been his 66th birthday. Especially in a year where so much kept us apart, technology brought us together in limitless ways. That's a testament to Steve's life and the legacy he left, which continue to inspire me every day. pic.twitter.com/4nluynVjFF

-- Tim Cook (@tim_cook)


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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,991member
    Jobs once said his adoptive father, Paul Jobs, instilled in him the importance of quality in everything one does. He told his son that whatever was made should not only be of high quality on the outside but on the inside as well, even though no one would see it. That's why the inside of Apple computers were as beautiful as the outside. The logic board, cabling, screws, layout, etc, had to be well designed and look good. 
    Rayz2016caladanianlolliverDogpersonargonautwatto_cobrazeus423GeorgeBMacFileMakerFellertmay
  • Reply 2 of 21
    Yes, all very sad. I remember when he passed away - it was known he wasn’t well but it caught most of us off-guard. There was very real shock at the news. 
    watto_cobralolliverjony0radarthekat
  • Reply 3 of 21
    Steve and I have the same birthday (+16). Hard to forget him. My life has changed drastically because of him.
    Rayz2016StrangeDayscornchipargonautwatto_cobrazeus423ronnlolliverGeorgeBMacjony0
  • Reply 4 of 21
    lkrupp said:
    Jobs once said his adoptive father, Paul Jobs, instilled in him the importance of quality in everything one does. He told his son that whatever was made should not only be of high quality on the outside but on the inside as well, even though no one would see it. That's why the inside of Apple computers were as beautiful as the outside. The logic board, cabling, screws, layout, etc, had to be well designed and look good. 
    Technically he was telling him the back of a cabinet should be finished like the front despite being put up against a wall and unseen. This is a sign of high-quality furniture making. Jobs applied this to why the inside of computers had to look good too.

    https://thenextweb.com/apple/2011/10/24/steve-jobs-obsession-with-the-quality-of-the-things-unseen/
    edited February 2020 davgreglolliverargonautwatto_cobrazeus423ronnjony0tmayradarthekat
  • Reply 5 of 21
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,905member
    I think it shows what kind of guy he was that he built his trillion dollar company in his home town come hell or high water. pretty damn cool if you ask me.
    watto_cobrazeus423lolliverjony0radarthekat
  • Reply 6 of 21
    Thank you for the walk down memory lane, William. As a long-time tech writer, I wrote a piece at his passing. Thought you might enjoy the read. :) http://www.mymac.com/2011/10/my-friend-steve-jobs/
    edited February 2020 zeus423argonautwatto_cobrah2pronnstourquejony0hammeroftruth
  • Reply 7 of 21
    I know he could be a piece of work at times, but observing from afar (well not that far, I'm in San Jose), his was an American Success story to the core.  Started with virtually nothing except an idea and the drive and made it work to be one of the biggest successes of American industry, if not the world. I look back at fondness at the time my GATE teacher had an early Apple II that we tinkered with and it boggles my mind that I'm sitting here now with a MacBook Pro with my iPhone at my side, some 40 years later.  Apple is as much a part of my DNA as my hair color I think sometimes, and I'm cool with with it.
    watto_cobrajony0radarthekat
  • Reply 8 of 21
    1st1st Posts: 443member
    always amaze me how he choose the right person to hang-around. steve W, Gates, or others. That is the talent hard to comeby.
    watto_cobraradarthekat
  • Reply 9 of 21
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,167member
    Technically he was telling him the back of a cabinet should be finished like the front despite being put up against a wall and unseen.
    Technically, he was also talking about the back of a fence, an example Jobs used more than once.

    https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/this-is-what-steve-jobs-learned-building-fences-with-his-dad-that-changed-the-course-of-human-history
    watto_cobraronnjony0radarthekat
  • Reply 10 of 21
    mrudd202 said:
    Thank you for the walk down memory lane, William. As a long-time tech writer, I wrote a piece at his passing. Thought you might enjoy the read. :) http://www.mymac.com/2011/10/my-friend-steve-jobs/
    Thanks for the nice read, Mark. I share many of the same sentiments you expressed. Steve's visionary ideas have changed my life for the better in more ways than I could count.
    watto_cobrajony0hammeroftruth
  • Reply 11 of 21
    mrudd202 said:
    Thank you for the walk down memory lane, William. As a long-time tech writer, I wrote a piece at his passing. Thought you might enjoy the read. :) http://www.mymac.com/2011/10/my-friend-steve-jobs/
    I did indeed enjoy the read and shared many of the same thoughts.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 13 of 21
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,977member
    I co-worker recklessly spilled his drink on my 2017 MacBook Pro a few days ago (company reimbursed me) but in the hopes of rescuing it, I opened up the laptop to see the extent of the damage.  Even though it was toast, I admired the elegance and cleanliness of the MBP's internals.  It's nice to see any company take the time to make the inside as nice as the exterior.

    Now waiting for the new MBP's to come out to spend my reimbursement money.
    lollivercornchipsteve_jobsradarthekat
  • Reply 14 of 21
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    There was another factor that Isaacson discussed in his biography:

    Steve grew up in the midst of a hub of high tech engineers largely from defense industries.   They were the neighbors he lived with.   One, for example produced a carbon microphone that Steve got to try.  When he told his dad about it his dad said there was no such thing as a microphone without an amplifier -- so Steve dragged his dad over to the engineer's house to show it him and prove that it did exist and it did work.  And that atmosphere supported him in dabbling with electronics (such as when he wired his parent's bedroom for sound!) rather than riding bicycles and playing baseball.

    And, in addition, the whole era was one of optimism.   A feeling that science and engineering had no limitations on what it could achieve.

    The combination of growing up with a whole village of people fascinated with technology and vision I think also formed a foundation for his life.
    jony0FileMakerFellercornchipradarthekat
  • Reply 15 of 21
    I remember hearing about him after graduating high school. Some of my geek friends were talking about his new company Next. That’s when I started keeping track of him and was very excited when I heard that Apple selected Next over BeOS to be the next gen OS for the Mac. I’m grateful that YouTube has videos of his visit to MIT, and every Macworld and other public speaking engagements. 

    The man had passion and no time for people who didn’t share his vision. 
    radarthekat
  • Reply 16 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,991member
    I’ll always remember Gil Amelio announcing the return of Steve Jobs, and shortly later he became Apple’s “interim” CEO.


    radarthekat
  • Reply 17 of 21
    Steve job is a legend. He's the Thomas Edison of the 20th and 21th Century.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 18 of 21
    lkrupp said:
    I’ll always remember Gil Amelio announcing the return of Steve Jobs, and shortly later he became Apple’s “interim” CEO.


    What is ironic is Apple’s board of directors both fired Steve years ago and rehired him to become interim CEO. It wasn’t the same board, but at least they had the guts to know Gil was in over his head in saving Apple. Gil probably saved Apple by agreeing with the board selecting NeXT over BeOS which brought along Steve, even though he probably knew his days were numbered as CEO. 
    radarthekatcornchip
  • Reply 19 of 21
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,511moderator
    Yes, all very sad. I remember when he passed away - it was known he wasn’t well but it caught most of us off-guard. There was very real shock at the news. 
    I had worked almost my entire career in the MS-Windows software world, though my career started with a brief couple years working on a headset replacement for the Macintosh mouse, at a tiny 8-person startup called Personics.  But my familiarity with Macs quickly diminished after we sold off that product and became a software publisher, making such PC titles as SmartNotes, UltraVision and a line of Lotus 1-2-3 add-ins.  I rarely paid any attention to Apple, and only peripherally noted the muffled noises of the quasi-religious battles between Microsoft and Apple, so deeply entrenched as I was on the DOS/Windows PC side.  

    So it was only at the end of my career, when the last of a long history of PC virus issues ate the final draft of a white payer I was writing, on the application of  machine learning to meeting coordination, that I threw up my hands in frustration with Windows PCs and bought myself a new late-2010 MacBook Air.  I’d owned an iPod nano, but until then had no experience on Macs since the 1984 Mac back at the very beginning of my career.  I was smitten, and in mid-2011 started researching Apple as an investment, buying my first shares in July. 

     And then August came and Steve resigned as CEO, and then October came.  It was maybe mostly in his honor that I bought my first iPhone later that month, the iPhone 4S.   I remember all the memorials created outside Apple stores worldwide, and so I was inspired to learn more.  And as I continued my research into his life and accomplishments, my investment in Apple, his legacy, grew.  Until I’d invested >90% of my net worth in the company stock.  My career had ended in early 2011, so it was with great conviction that I invested so much of my life savings, and it was Steve’s way of seeing the world that gave me that conviction.  I’ve been truly blessed in the decade since, to never have had to seek employment again and to leverage what I learned from his way of looking at the world to find the next big thing, which I believe is Elon Musk and Tesla.  

    Steve has sent his ripples out into the universe, still inspiring and benefiting the world.   Mine is only one such story of many, I am confident. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 20 of 21
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,167member
    When Steve passed, I was surprised at how deeply it affected me. I new he was quite ill, but I thought after his transplant that he might recover. At work, people new my as a pretty staunch Mac guy, though I wasn't much for proselytizing.  

    A co-worker came to me to tell me that Jobs had passed, others came to say "Sorry to hear about Jobs" etc. That took me completely by surprise.

    Then there were the worldwide tributes and impromptu memorials at Apple Stores all over the world. It was incredible to see. I doubt I'll see his equal in my lifetime.
    cornchip
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