Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jordan from Wilmette, IL. Jordan Wonders, “Who was Steve Jobs?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jordan!
When you think back over the last several decades and ponder how digital our world has become, you can trace the path of society's progress from the personal computer to the Internet to the smartphone.
Although there have been many technologies and products that have shaped our modern world, there's one man and one company that seemed to be in the mix each step of the way. The company? Apple Computer. The man? Steve Jobs.
Born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, to two University of Wisconsin graduate students, Steve Jobs was adopted shortly after birth. Although his biological parents had insisted that he be adopted by college graduates, they allowed the adoption to proceed when the adoptive parents promised he would get a college education.
In hindsight, the circumstances of his adoption were somewhat ironic, considering that Jobs would eventually drop out of Reed College in Oregon after only six months of attendance. He continued to audit classes for the next 18 months, often sleeping on friends' dorm-room floors and recycling bottles for food money.
Jobs was always intelligent and highly creative. He simply struggled with formal education. He began his career as a video game designer for Atari in 1974.
Several months later, however, he would take an extended trip to India in search of spiritual enlightenment. He adopted the practices of Zen Buddhism and became a pescatarian, which means he was a vegetarian who also ate fish.
When he was just 21 years old, Jobs co-founded Apple Computer with high school friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. Working out of his parents' garage, Jobs and Wozniak changed the personal computer industry forever. Their innovative machines were smaller, less expensive, and more intuitive than their competitors.
By 1980, Apple Computer was a publicly-traded company with a value of over a billion dollars. Despite continued success, Apple executives gradually pushed Jobs out of the company he had co-founded, believing he was holding the company back.
Jobs switched gears and bought an animation company from Star Wars creator George Lucas in 1986. His Pixar Animation Studios would go on to produce some hugely popular movies, including Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Jobs eventually became Disney's largest shareholder when Pixar merged with Disney in 2006.
Jobs eventually returned to Apple in 1997. Under his guidance, Apple became a technological juggernaut with the creation of popular products, such as the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone. Its consistent innovation and earnings have made it one of the most admired and profitable companies in history.
Despite being the head of one of the most powerful and influential technology companies in the world, Jobs never learned to code. His skills were primarily in marketing and design. Nevertheless, Jobs is listed as inventor or co-inventor on 346 United States patents for a wide range of technologies.
Jobs died on October 5, 2011, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His last words have been reported to be, "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." That's what many people might say when they hear his net worth at death: nearly $7 billion.