It’s easy to take for granted the impact Steve Jobs has had on business and culture. But like with any personal history, success is generally preceded by personal struggle.
When Jobs dropped out of college in 1973, there was no grand plan to dominate the world. In fact, he lived a highly day-to-day existence, sleeping on friends’ floors and getting free meals at a local Buddhist temple. He was more concerned with saving for a trip to India than in making his mark.
Three years later, he was forced to move back home with his parents. He converted their toolshed into a bedroom.
But now, after a brief stint working for video game developer Atari, he began to develop some life focus. When his friend Steve Wozniak developed a personal computer, Jobs saw the future and suggested they could sell it to individual users. Apple’s first office was Jobs’ parent’s garage.
And the personal computer market was born.
Wozniak sold his prized HP calculator and Jobs his VW van for start-up money. Within three years, the company’s sales would top $200 million.
And in 1980, when Apple went public, Jobs was worth $100 million. He was 25 years old.
The next five years would see many ups and downs for the company. Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985.
If this were the end of his story, he’d still be a legend. But the same grit (which once led him at 13 to cold call and ask the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard for spare parts for a school project) kicked in with renewed resolve.
Jobs made two moves after leaving Apple that would shape his destiny. He purchased computer graphics firm Pixar from George Lucas. And founded a state-of-the-art computer company called NeXT.
Pixar eventually became a world-wide sensation with hit movies such as Toy Story and Cars. Disney purchased it in 2006 for $7.4 billion, with Steve becoming the largest single shareholder in Walt Disney Company.
More importantly, Apple purchased NeXt in 1997, paving Steve’s return as CEO. The company was on the brink of bankruptcy and Steve Jobs pulled off what is widely regarded as the biggest comeback in business history.
Over the next decade and a half, Apple became the most valuable company on earth and under Steve’s guidance would develop products with massive cultural ramifications such as the iMac, iTunes, Apples Stores, the iPod, the iPhone and iPad.
Sure, maybe he was he just destined to dictate the evolution of modern technology. But when you combine insatiable curiosity with boundless determination, something good -- or great -- is always bound to happen.