Steve Jobs

The Revolutionary Inventor

Steve Jobs' Life Influences/Upbringing

Right from the beginning, Steve Jobs knew he was special. Why? Because his parents always told him he was. However not his biological parents, but rather the couple (Paul and Clara Jobs) that adopted him. Jobs' biological parents were Joan Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, a woman of German heritage with a strict Catholic background and a man in an immigrant Syrian family of nine children. Joan became pregnant out of wedlock, and her hardcore Catholic father was not too happy about that. So, she was forced to put her baby up for adoption. Then came Paul and Clara Jobs (by the way Paul worked on cars for a living without a college degree), who decided to adopt the baby boy. Joan Schieble's only condition was that the couple save enough money to put her baby through college (which she was weary about due to Paul's lack of college education). Paul and Clara agreed, and they named their new baby Steven Paul Jobs. Like I said before, Jobs always knew he was special, but he also always knew he was abandoned. This fact would be what would shape Jobs' personality the most throughout his life. Jobs would make his choices in life based on his knowledge that he was a special person since that is what was ingrained in his mind from the very beginning. Throughout Jobs' life, there were two main people that shaped who he was. The first person was his father, Paul Jobs. As mentioned earlier, Paul was into tinkering with cars. He would buy an old car for 500 bucks, fix it up, and sell it for $2000. Paul tried to pass this interest onto Steve by always having him tag along with Paul when he went to work on a car. However, Steve took more of an interest in electronics when his neighbor gave him electronic parts to tinker around with. One time, at a very young age, he even proved his dad wrong about something with electronics. However, his dad is the person who gave Steve interest in tinkering around with things and working hard. The other major influence was his fourth grade teacher, Imogene Hill. When Jobs entered elementary school, he was already smarter than all the other kids. This caused the petty tasks of early grade school to bore Jobs, so he decided to start getting into trouble to entertain himself. Him and his buddy Rick Ferrentino played pranks such as hanging up posters saying "Bring Your Pet to School Day" and switching all the bike locks with each other. He had been sent home numerous times, and was heading down a dark path. However, when he entered fourth grade, Ms. Hill found ways to stimulate Jobs. She realized that if she bribed Jobs, he would listen. So, one day she gave Jobs a big math packet and told him if he completes it and it is mostly correct, she would give Jobs a big bag of lollipops and five bucks. Jobs brought it back in two days. Eventually, it got to where Jobs didn't even need the bribes to do what Ms. Hill said, he just wanted to please her. Ms. Hill saved Jobs from going down a path that would lead to him being a jailbird and set him onto the path of legendary inventor instead. One other thing that shaped Jobs' future were the things going on around the neighborhood he grew up in. For example, there were many research centers in Silicon Valley (he grew up in Silicon Valley by the way) that were all on the cutting-edge and super high-tech. Also, there was a real estate developer company that built houses in Jobs' neighborhood. Their houses were all very simple and slick, yet looked like perfection. The combination of cutting-edge research centers and perfectionist real estate companies were what made Jobs want his products to not only function well, but to look awesome and have a never-before-seen look. They are why Jobs focused a large chunk of his efforts on how his products looked, and why he was able to be so successful later in life. By seeing all of these cutting-edge companies, Steve Jobs realized that he wanted to change the world. He did not care about how much rich or famous he became, so long as he created something wonderful.

Historiography

In this article provided by Time Magazine, Steve Jobs is given the title "The Inventor of the Future" by Lev Grossman and Harry McCracken. The authors provided a basic run through of Steve Jobs' time at Apple, and marveled at how he ran his company. The authors were obviously in love with the genius of Steve Jobs. They acknowledged that his management style was unconventional, yet brilliant. They wrote about how they were in awe of the way Jobs was able to manipulate people into doing something, even when they didn't think they wanted to. They admitted that Jobs was in touch with humans...not personally, but rather in the sense that he knew how to "get people to do what he wanted, to give him more than they thought they could, even when they really, really didn't want to". In order to describe Jobs' unconventional leadership, the authors recalled how Jobs would dismiss anyone that didn't absolutely impress him in order to keep the best employees at his disposal. The authors also marveled at how ingenious Jobs was in the field of business, since a vast majority of his products weren't even the first in the market or had as many features as other products in the market. Yet people still bought Apple's products like their life depended on it. The answer? Jobs was more focused on how the product looked than how it worked (OK he cared about how it worked too, just not as much). As the authors put it, the iPod "looked as if it had fallen out of a time machine, and it made people want it". The authors worked to get the point across that Steve Jobs' methods were unconventional, yet the most effective the world had ever seen, and that is a reason to be in awe of the revolutionary inventor.

The Product that Changed the World

As we all know, Steve Jobs has a long list of revolutionary products. However, at the top by a long shot is the iPhone (with the iMac coming in second and the iPod receiving third). At his speech unveiling the new iPhone, Jobs bragged that it will change the world with three revolutionary products built into one. The iPhone combined a touchscreen iPod, a mobile phone, and "breakthrough Internet communications device" (Isaacson 474). However, the process for assembling this product began years earlier. First, Steve Jobs needed to come up with the idea for the iPhone. When the iPod's sales were skyrocketing (45% of revenue for Apple), mobile phone companies were starting to introduce cameras to their phones. These two facts worried Jobs, since if these companies decided to add music players to their phones, the iPod would would be rendered useless, and Apple's profits would tank. So being Steve Jobs, he decided that Apple needed to build a phone with a music player before anyone else did. After a couple failed attempts with trying to partner with Motorola, Jobs decided that Apple would just create their own phone. This also made the developers at Apple realize that every mobile phone on the market was super hard to use. Apple's own top dogs hated using their phones due to their poorly executed features. This made a goal of the iPhone to also make the mobile phone more user friendly. It also created a drive among the engineers and developers since they too would also get to use this new product. One big feature of the iPhone was the new multi-touch screen. At first, engineers tried tinkering around with a trackwheel (like what was on the iPod), but could not figure it out, especially with dialing a phone number. This caused Jobs to bring up the idea of users touching the screen with their fingers to navigate their phone. One of Jobs' designers' team had already been working on a multi-touch technology to use with the iPod, however the only problem was that they didn't know how to transfer it to the iPhone. Jobs ended up finding a company called FingerWorks in Delaware that had developed a line of multi-touch pads. Soon Apple acquired the company, and after working on the engineering for another six months, had cracked the code to multi-touch technology. Since Apple was already a very large company, they had no problems with acquiring the funding and materials for their project, with the exception of the screen. Jobs had used all sorts of metals for his earlier products, but for the iPhone he decided that he was going to tackle glassware. So, he needed to find a type of glass sturdy enough to resist scratches and the sort. His old friend John Seeley Brown was on the board of Corning Glass, which was a company that produced glass (duh). Soon Jobs set up a meeting with the CEO Wendell Weeks, who told him that earlier (in the 1960s) Cornering Glass had developed a product they called Gorilla Glass that was super strong, however ditched the product after failing to find a market for it. Jobs urged Weeks to start producing this glass for him, and within six months Apple had Gorilla Glass to use for their new iPhone. The only thing left for Apple to do was to make the iPhone look as clean as every other product they had produced. First, they made the glass go all the way to the edge of the phone, giving it more of a futuristic look. Second, they made the phone thinner by not using a replaceable battery (they did this by making the phone impossible to open by customers and third party repair shops in order to use a smaller battery). Third, they gave it Jobs' signature rounded rectangle look. Finally, the iPhone was ready to launch. The whole process took about three years, and was a race against other mobile phone companies to produce a phone with a music player built into it. Throughout the timeline, Jobs trashed many of his developers' ideas and called them out for not being perfect. This goes back to his unconventional yet flawless leadership methods that ultimately led to the success of the iPhone. In fact, right before the iPhone was going to be revealed, Jobs decided he didn't like how bulky the aluminum case looked around the glass screen. He wanted everything on the phone to give way to the sleek Gorilla Glass screen. So, he trashed the phone's design right before it's launch and completely redid it to show off the glass screen. The iPhone was arguably the most revolutionary consumerist product (meaning a product that makes the life of the consumer easier rather than a product that the consumer needs) of all time. Not only did it combine three separate revolutionary ideas into one, it made the already existing product much easier to use. It once again transcended all of its predictions in sales. It wasn't even a new invention, but rather an improvement on something else that still was able to completely change the world. As Jobs said himself while unveiling the new iPhone, "every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything".
Steve Jobs Unveils The Original iPhone - Macworld San Francisco 2007
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Steve Jobs in Another Time Period

Steve Jobs was an interesting character with unique personality traits. He was insanely imaginative, so he was able to create products beyond anyone's wildest dreams. However his two most defining traits were his determination and ability to talk anyone into doing anything he wanted. Jobs was so determined that he was crazy enough to believe that he could change the world, which is exactly what he ended up doing. His people skills made him "the ultimate salesperson" (Himmel). He was able to talk anyone into doing something (for example he talked the shirt off a kid's back in elementary school) or sell anything to anyone. These three traits worked in junction with each other to create "the ultimate businessperson" (Kall). His determination created the drive, his imagination created the product, and his people skills sold the product. That being said, he lived in the perfect time period for his skills and personality traits to be of maximum potential. He basically pioneered a new way of thinking for businesses everywhere. Computers existed, however only the gigantic ones that took up a whole room and were the complete opposite of user-friendly. Normal people at this time did not engage in the world of electronics, except for Steve Jobs (who was not normal at all). Jobs wanted to create computers that every single household would own, which was perfect for the time Jobs was living in. The computer had been invented, but it needed a revolutionary innovation. For this reason I think that Jobs was perfectly suited for his time, and he reached his full potential. However, with character traits and skill sets like Jobs', he could have been successful at any point in history. He always knew he was special, so inevitably he would have done something or created something revolutionary. He would have been able to talk anyone into doing anything no matter what, which is always a positive. In an earlier time period, Jobs' personality traits would have come into play more, since humanity as a whole was more naive and he would have easily manipulated people to do what he needed. In a later time period, his imagination and ingenuity would have prevailed. In the modern world we live in, the craziest and most revolutionary ideas are what stick out among the others; coming up with those ideas were Steve Jobs' specialty. Jobs' determination would have helped him at any point in the history of the universe. If I had Steve Jobs' abilities, I would invent a device that everyone owns in their home. It would be something that people would not know they need until they own it, which is exactly what Jobs wanted to do. The device would maybe be something that helps you travel faster like a teleportation device. I could also innovate something that only advanced research companies own and make it available to a common person. The important part is not specifically what I would make, but rather that I invent something or innovate some complex contraption and put it in every single household in the US.

Steve Jobs' American Experience

Steve Jobs was one of those people who received the full American experience. As Isaacson pointed out in his book, Steve Jobs lived a very stereotypical American life when he was a child. He even had a younger sister named Patricia. So his family consisted of a father named Paul, a mother named Clara, an older brother named Steve, and a younger sister named Patricia. How much more stereotypical can you get? In addition to his early life, Steve also lived the "American Dream". He made it big from starting his own company in California, working hard, and getting lucky. That is something that the thousands of startup companies in the Bay Area can only dream of doing. In addition to his success with Apple, he also experienced what many young people today dream of doing. He dropped out of college in an attempt to achieve enlightenment in India. OK, maybe not every young person wishes to do something that extreme, but more and more teenagers dream of traveling the world in their early adulthood to experience all the different sights, sounds, and cultures of the world. Steve Jobs essentially did just that, only adding to his list of check marks next to "American experiences". Jobs also has the working hard and not giving up section of the American experience covered. When Apple's sales were not doing so hot, the board of Apple decided to fire Jobs himself from Apple. Most people would have been like "eh, I've made a lot of money already, maybe I'll just invest it or something and that'll be enough". Nope, not Jobs. Instead, he created ANOTHER computer company called NeXT. Not only would this company do well, but it would give Apple a run for its money. In addition to that, he also became the CEO of a company we all know and love called Pixar. That's right, he created the movie Toy Story. When he was reinstated back into Apple, he created the iMac, iPod, iTunes store, iPhone, and iPad. If that isn't hard work, I don't know what is. So, Steve Jobs lived a pretty fulfilling life. One that any normal person would dream of living, and certainly one that fits the bill for the American Dream.

Steve Jobs Book Trailer

Steve Jobs iMovie Trailer

Works Cited