The Crazy Ones: The Epic Journey of Steve Jobs

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels..."


Those iconic words summoned the very essence of Steve Jobs, the legendary visionary who co-founded Apple and revolutionized the worlds of personal computing, mobile devices, digital animation, music and more. Jobs was the ultimate dreamer, a round peg in a square hole who dared to defy conformity again and again through an unrelenting passion to "think different."

Steven Paul Jobs entered the world under modest circumstances on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco to two University of Wisconsin graduate students, Joanne Schieble and John Jandali. His birth parents gave the infant boy up for adoption, and he was taken in by Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, California.

From an incredibly early age, young Steve exhibited the insatiably curious mind that would shape his life's callings. As a child, he was obsessed with taking apart any electronics he could get his hands on, from radios to TV sets, just to explore how they worked. His blue-collar father showed him how to take apart and reconstruct electronics, fine-tuning Steve's intense focus.

After the Jobs family moved to Los Altos in the heart of Silicon Valley, Jobs was offered a summer job in 1972 by a neighbor who worked at Hewlett-Packard. It was an eye-opening experience that sparked his interest in the fledgling tech world emerging in the Bay Area. Jobs began attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club and became friends with one of its most prominent members, an older engineering whiz kid named Steve Wozniak.

Despite his intelligence and curiosity, Jobs struggled with boredom and alienation in school. He began playing tricks on teachers with fellow pranksters known as the "Explorers Club." He briefly attended Reed College in Portland after graduating from Homestead High School, but dropped out after just one semester. Over the next couple years, Jobs took a psychedelic experience from experimenting with LSD that he called one of the two or three most important experiences of his life.

After returning to California, Jobs grew his hair long and began adhering to the counterculture lifestyle of the 1970s Bay Area while becoming more committed to Eastern mysticism and philosophies including Zen Buddhism. He dated Joan Baez' daughter Christina and landed a technician job at Atari. But his path would take a pivotal turn after his friend Wozniak showed him the computer terminal he had built for his new microprocessor.



Growing more emboldened by rebel philosophies and his passion for clean design and minimalism, Jobs convinced Wozniak that they could sell circuit boards for personal computers as a business. In 1976, Jobs helped Wozniak design and build the first commercially successful personal computer, the Apple I, in Jobs' parents' garage. A year later, they unveiled the breakthrough Apple II that sparked the personal computer revolution.

With $1,300 in capital raised from selling Jobs' Volkswagen bus and Wozniak's HP calculator, Apple Computer was founded on April 1, 1976 by the two Steves along with Ronald Wayne, who gave up his 10% stake just days later for $800. Jobs took on the role of marketing and operations while the more technical Wozniak led the engineering efforts for the early Apple products.

At just 22 years old, Jobs was now the co-founder of a pioneering tech startup driven by his hunger to create "insanely great" products that were compact and user-friendly. Apple quickly grew from operating out of that garage into real office and manufacturing facilities in Cupertino. The Apple II was a massive success that established the company as a leader in the nascent consumer computing market.

With visions of creating an easy-to-use desktop computer for everyday people, Jobs became obsessed with the research project known as the Macintosh after visiting Xerox PARC in 1979. He provided the inspiration, marketing skills and business acumen while Wozniak supplied much of the engineering genius that powered the early Macs and other Apple products.

By 1983, Jobs had evolved from his counterculture days into an increasingly intense and hardnosed businessman obsessed with quality and marketing. He was frequently harsh and uncompromising with employees, using his famous "reality distortion field" to push his teams beyond the limits of the possible through sheer force of personality and vision.



The Macintosh was finally unveiled in 1984 with its revolutionary graphical user interface, mouse-driven navigation, and iconic "1984" Super Bowl commercial directed by Ridley Scott. It was a stunning technical achievement that made computers approachable for everyday consumers. But with Jobs' mercurial management style and desire for total control butting up against Apple's executive team, an ugly battle for power ensued.

The fight over control and strategic vision culminated in Jobs being stripped of all operational duties at Apple in 1985 after CEO John Sculley sided with the Board of Directors. At just 30 years old, the co-founder was ousted from the company he started with his friend Wozniak nearly a decade earlier.

Dejected but defiant, Jobs went on to found NeXT, a computer platform development company dedicated to making powerful workstations for the higher education and business markets. But the NeXT computer was very expensive and struggled to achieve commercial success after its 1988 launch.

Always the opportunist, Jobs seized on NeXT's advanced software capabilities and began making overtures to rebuild a strategic partnership with his former company Apple in the late 1990s. In 1996, Apple announced it would be acquiring NeXT for $427 million and that Jobs would be returning to the company he founded as a special advisor.

But upon his return in 1997, Jobs was shocked to find a disorganized company that was essentially bankrupt after years of failing to keep up with innovative competing products from the likes of Microsoft and others. Apple was within 90 days of going insolvent. Once interim CEO, Jobs was ruthless in restructuring and downsizing the company while also rebuilding its product pipeline.

After shutting down massive parts of the business and laying off thousands of employees, Jobs gradually reshuffled and slimmed down Apple into an ultra-efficient organization maniacally focused on just a few core product lines and obsessed with developing insanely great products, just as he had envisioned in the company's garage days a generation earlier.

Under his famous catchphrase of "focusing on just a few products and doing them better than anyone else," Jobs and his team over the coming years systematically replaced virtually every product line with blockbuster hit after blockbuster hit powered by game-changing innovations.

The stunning all-in-one iMac desktop reinvigorated Apple in 1998. But it was the massively successful iPod launched in 2001, the iTunes Music Store in 2003, and the iPhone in 2007 that accelerated Apple into becoming the largest and most valuable company in the world by market cap and one of the most beloved brands in history.



After revolutionizing mobile music with the iPod and iTunes, Jobs and his team created the cutting-edge iPhone, combining a cellphone, iPod and Internet device into one slick package. Within just a few years, the iPhone completely upended and redefined the mobile phone industry while introducing the world to multitouch screen technology that became the standard user interface for most consumer electronics products over the coming decade.

Following the iPhone, Jobs pulled off a similar reinvention with the 2010 launch of the iPad, Apple's line of multitouch tablets that created an entirely new device category and computing experience. This incredible run of hardware and software innovations culminated in the iPad becoming the fastest adopted non-phone electronic product in history.

Throughout this decade-long streak of revolutionary new products, Jobs built Apple's retail strategy into an industry gold standard with the rollout of iconic and stylish Apple Stores. Each location embodied the company's design principles and relentless focus on creating simple and beautiful user experiences. From the quiet den-style setup areas to the exposed structural architecture, Apple Stores broke the mold of what a tech retail store should look and feel like.

Behind the scenes, Jobs drove these successive waves of innovation by demanding a perfectionist's attention to detail from himself and every employee. Stories regularly emerged of products being thrown out for not meeting his obsessively high standards or features being ripped out of software because they didn't meet his expectations of simplicity and end-user ease of use.

But perhaps his greatest impact was establishing a new, humanistic corporate philosophy that harkened back to his counterculture roots and his belief that technology alone is not the answer. "It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing," he said.

Technology should better serve and empower humanity to explore individual human creativity, freedom of expression and thought, Jobs insisted. So Apple products were not merely sleek and cool looking. They embodied an ethos that enabled users to be creative and productive in entirely new ways through meticulously designed hardware and software that was seamlessly integrated.

Sadly, Jobs' success was dimmed by a private battle against a rare form of pancreatic cancer that began in 2003. Though he continually defied doctors' grim prognoses over nearly a decade, the ravages of the disease eventually caught up with him after a liver transplant in 2009.

On October 5, 2011, Jobs lost his fight with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer and respiratory arrest at the age of 56. In a heartfelt statement, his family said he "died peacefully" while surrounded by loved ones. Thousands gathered at impromptu memorial services to pay tribute to the tech genius and mourn the profound loss, even as details of the carefully orchestrated plans for his succession emerged. Jobs had been privately grooming Tim Cook and other leaders to carry on Apple's pursuits and his vision after he was gone.

In his famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech, Jobs summed up his life's philosophy, urging graduates to pursue their passions, think differently, and make a mark on the world: "Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."

Those became words for Jobs to live by since co-founding Apple out of that modest home's garage at just 21 years old. His relentless commitment to avoiding conformity and thinking differently enabled him to transform not just one industry but seven - personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, application software, tablets and digital publishing.

Not bad for a college dropout once dismissed as an impractical dreamer who took a handful of acid tabs and never abandoned the rebellious counterculture philosophy he embraced at Reed College. Jobs proved that those who are "crazy enough" to reject the status quo and reshape our understanding of what's possible, are the ones who drive the human race forward.

It's an incredible legacy that secured his place as one of history's most legendary innovators, right up there with the Edisons, Fords and da Vincis of the world. For most entrepreneurs, upending even a single mature industry would be considered a massively successful career. But Jobs remade not one, not two, but seven industry landscapes through a mixture of obsessive vision, rebellious creativity and relentless perfectionism over his lifetime.

Jobs left the world a very different place than he found it through mind-bending innovations driven by that rare ability to apply poetic artistry with the science of engineering. From pulling off one revolutionary product launch after another to creating global bahaviors and remaking entire industries, there may never be another business leader who so singularly disrupted so many areas of modern life in such an immense way.

But most of all, the greatest tribute to Jobs' impact is how he built Apple into far more than just the most valuable corporation on Earth. By striving to empower human creativity and individuality through elegantly designed technology experiences, Apple became a lifestyle movement that motivated countless people to question conventions and see the world a little differently - just like Jobs himself.

It's a crazy legacy, indeed. The kind that only one of the true crazy ones could author over such an incredible career spent relentlessly dreaming up, creating and perfecting insanely great products and ideas to enrich humanity's existence. Steve Jobs stands alone as the rebel who proved it actually is possible to "think different" and transform the world in the process.


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