Steve Jobs: the Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th century?

66 years ago, Steve Jobs was born, the genius inventor of technological tools that have revolutionized our lives: from the laptop to the Iphone smartphone and the mouse! But life was also a novel for the number one geek who was also a vegetarian hippie, a lover of India and Lsd, a short-lived boyfriend of Joan Baez…per


Very much ahead of his time in terms of technology, but also very much in tune with fashion, Steve Jobs would have been 68 years old this February 24. The visionary inventor was also a hippie adept of the India-Lsd-guitar trip. And he is probably the most famous geek today… Because his imprint is now everywhere on the planet. Through his company Apple, he has indeed changed the behavior of the entire world population, being at the origin of objects that have become everyday and essential: from the laptop to the smartphone…


He knew how to make these tools desirable and sophisticated, and to position them on an accessible luxury segment.


Complex, this man adept of oriental philosophies, vegetarianism and…Lsd was also a tyrant at work, a thousand miles away from the letting go that could have been associated with this personal research.


Should we see in his origins the beginning of the Jobs mystery, always in search of something beyond himself, but also beyond the whole of humanity? Born to a Syrian father and a Swiss mother, he was quickly adopted by an American couple, Paul and Clara Jobs.


Passionate about electronics


It was a good thing they lived in California (Mountain View, then Los Altos and Palo Alto) and his new father was a machinist in a company that manufactured lasers. Initiated by the latter, Steve Jobs will be more interested in the possibilities of electronics than in the content of a classical education.


His self-confidence works wonders: at the age of thirteen, he convinces William Hewlett, the head of the Hewlett-Packard company, to give him the electronic parts he needs. He also got a bonus summer job at the company. That year, he assembled his first frequency meter!


In high school, he met his sidekick Steve Wozniak, who would play a crucial role in his life, and with whom he conducted many experiments in electronics. As early as 1971, the 16 year olds developed and sold several copies of a device that allowed them to make long distance phone calls without having to pay operators…


In 1972, at the age of 17, Steve Jobs left to continue his studies at Reed College in Portland. But in the midst of the hippie wave, he refuses to accept any constraints and is only interested in subjects that he learns as an auditor. Among them…calligraphy which will inspire him later in his wide choice of fonts for the Mac!


Hiring by Atari and trip to India


Two years later, in 1974, he returned to his parents’ home without a diploma but having broadened his horizons.


Luck, which smiles on the bold, will never leave this young creative rebel, well in his time despite everything. In 1974, he was hired by the video game designer Atari…which did not prevent him from taking a seven-month break from his work by traveling to India. Atari must have sensed the potential of its recruit because despite his new look – shaved head and traditional Indian clothes – he found his job. As well as his friend Steve Wozniak who also joined the company! Together, they design the electronic circuit of the video game Breakout. But not only that, because here again, there was no question of following a banal route.


Together, the two Steve imagine a computer prototype. And on April 1, 1976, Apple (Computer Company) was born. The legend says that the apple of the firm would have been inspired by the diet that Steve Jobs follows then, converted to vegetarianism!


The duo set up the first Apple I in Jobs’ garage, a place that has since become mythical for inventors of all kinds! In 1977, supported by a Californian business angel (Mike Markkula) who brought them the sum of $250,000, Jobs and Wozniak launched and marketed the Apple II, the first personal computer sold on a large scale.


A billionaire at 25!


The success is dazzling. After his company went public in 1980, Steve Jobs became a multimillionaire at the age of 25!


However, there was no question of resting on his laurels. The Xerox graphical interface inspired him to launch the Apple Lisa in 1983 and the Macintosh in 1984, along with the famous mouse that would become an indispensable accessory for personal computers.


At the end of 1985, Steve Jobs left Apple, after having lost an arm wrestle with the general manager John Sculley, whom he had recruited himself! But he founded another company, called NeXT, and launched the NeXT Computer in 1988, without repeating the success of Apple computers. After this small setback, the NeXTcube was released in 1990, presented as the first interpersonal computer, capable of sharing voice, image and video via e-mail. Steve Jobs has not lost his pioneer spirit… But he also knows how to sniff out the good things in High Tech: in 1986, he buys from George Lucas the “computer graphics” section of his company, Graphics Group, later renamed…Pixar. The success of the film Toy Story, released in 1995, produced by Disney and Pixar, before many others, confirmed the validity of this investment. He sold it to Disney in 2006 for 7.4 billion dollars.


A decade of innovation


In 1996, ironically, Apple bought NeXT, which had refocused on software distribution three years earlier, for $429 million. Steve Jobs then returned to the Apple company he had co-created. Appointed CEO in 1997, he revived the company, then on the verge of bankruptcy, thanks to a decade of major innovations: the first iMac in 1998, the first iPod in 2001 and the launch of iTunes in 2002, the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003, and finally, the iPhone in 2007, which introduced a real revolution for the smartphone market, with its multi-touch screen, its music player, and its phone interface. Finally, 2008 marks the arrival of both the App Store and the MacBook Air. On a personal level, Steve Jobs has not led an ordinary life either, as you can imagine. In 1978, his girlfriend Chris Ann Brennan gave birth to his daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs, whom he did not recognize until three years later after claiming to be sterile! From 1982 to 1985, he had an affair with the singer Joan Baez with whom he even considered marriage. Too bourgeois probably for this former hippie…


Steve Jobs then had another girlfriend, Tina Redse, whom he left in 1989 for Laurene Powell, whom he married in 1991, during a ceremony in Yosemite National Park, presided over by a Buddhist monk. From this union, three children are born, a boy, named Reed (1991) and two girls, Erin (1995) and Eve (1998).


But the happiness comes to an end on October 5, 2011 with the death of Steve Jobs of pancreatic cancer. He managed the feat of continuing to live and work for his company for many years despite this cancer deemed lightning diagnosed in 2003.


The day before his death, Steve Jobs was still working for Apple.


The premature death of this 20th century genius, a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci, will contribute to anchor his legend forever.



Featured photo : © Press

Sophie Michentef a évolué plus de 30 ans dans la presse professionnelle. Pendant une quinzaine d’années, elle a encadré la rédaction France et international du Journal du Textile. Elle met désormais son expertise presse, textile, mode et luxe au service de journaux, organisations professionnelles et entreprises.


Luxus Magazine recommends

Luxus Magazine N°8

Now available