Steven Paul Jobs was born on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco, California. His unwed biological parents, Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, put him up for adoption. Steve was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, a lower-middle-class couple, who moved to the suburban city of Mountain View a couple of years later.
The Santa Clara county, south of the Bay Area, became known as Silicon Valley in the early 1950s after the sprouting of a myriad of semi-conductor companies. As a result, young Steve Jobs grew up in a neighborhood of engineers working on electronics and other gizmos in their garages on weekends. This shaped his interest in the field as he grew up. At age 13, he met one the most important persons in his life: 18-year-old Stephen Wozniak, an electronics wiz kid, and, like Steve, an incorrigible prankster.
Five years later, when Steve Jobs reached college age, he told his parents he wanted to enroll in Reed College — an expensive liberal arts college up in Oregon. Even though the tuition fees were astronomical for the poor couple, they had promised their son’s biological parents he would get a college education, so they relented. Steve spent only one semester at Reed, then dropped out, as he was more interested in eastern philosophy, fruitarian diets, and LSD than in the classes he took. He moved to a hippie commune in Oregon where his main activity was cultivating apples.
A few months later, Steve returned to California to look for a job. He was hired at the young video game maker Atari, and used his wages to make a trip to India with one of his college friends, in order to ‘seek enlightenment’. He came back a little disillusioned and started to take interest in his friend Woz’s new activities.
Woz, whose interest in electronics had grown stronger, was regularly attending meetings of a group of early computer hobbyists called the Homebrew Computer Club. They were the real pioneers of personal computing, a collection of radio jammers, computer professionals and enlightened amateurs who gathered to show off their latest prowess in building their own personal computer or writing software. The club started to gain popularity after the Altair 8800 personal computer kit came out in 1975.
The knowledge that Woz gathered at the Homebrew meetings, as well as his exceptional talent, allowed him to build his own computer board — simply because he wanted a personal computer for himself. Steve Jobs took interest, and he quickly understood that his friend’s brilliant invention could be sold to software hobbyists, who wanted to write software without the hassle of assembling a computer kit. Jobs convinced Wozniak to start a company for that purpose: Apple Computer was born on April 1, 1976.
The following months were spent assembling boards of Apple I computers in the Jobses’ garage, and selling them to independent computer dealers in the area. However, Wozniak had started work on a much better computer, the Apple II — an expandable, much more powerful system that supported color graphics. Jobs and Wozniak knew deep down it could be hugely successful, and therefore Jobs started to seek venture capital. He eventually convinced former Intel executive turned business angel Mike Markkula to invest $250,000 in Apple, in January 1977. Markkula was a big believer in the personal computing revolution, and he said to the young founders that, thanks to the Apple II, their company could be one of the Fortune 500 in less than two years.