This week, Apple founder and recently-former CEO Steve Jobs lost his years-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He leaves behind many who mourn him and a creative technological legacy that has changed lives throughout the world.
Born in 1955, Jobs grew up in the same place he later built Apple's headquarters, in Cupertino, California. He displayed his well-known brashness and interest in electronics at a young age; as a teen-ager, he didn't shy away from phoning the president of Hewlett-Packard for parts for a school project. (William Hewlett not only sent Jobs the parts; he offered him a summer job at the company).
Jobs did go to college; he dropped out after a year, though, returning later to audit a class on calligraphy. It's this class that he credits with giving him the graceful sense of design that influences Apple products to this day. After his brief time in college, Jobs took a job designing video games with Atari – a job which he left to go backpacking around India, study Buddhism, and take psychedelic drugs. (No, I'm not making this up). It hardly seems like the typical start to a career as a giant of industry – but technology is no ordinary industry, and Jobs, for that matter, was no ordinary giant. Jobs credited these experiences with shaping his creative vision.
That summer job at HP also left a mark. Jobs made an important friend there: Steve Wozniak. Wozniak's impressive skill at building computers led the two Steves to form a company: Apple Computer Inc. The two set up shop in Jobs' parents' garage. Jobs himself was only 21.
The rest of the story is the beginning of a legend. In 1976, Jobs sold his car to finance their first venture, the Apple I. It was primitive, it was expensive ($666.66), and buyers had to put it together themselves. But it made enough money for them to bring out the Apple II the next year, to a receptive audience at the first West Coast Computer Faire.
Jobs and Apple built on its success in early 1984, with the launch of its iconic Macintosh computer. The beige, boxy Mac included a mouse. CNN notes that “Jobs was among the first computer engineers to recognize the appeal of the mouse and the graphical interface, which let users operate computers by clicking on images instead of writing text.” The Macintosh sold fairly well, despite competition. Suddenly, though, everything was about to change.