You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Apple's Steve Jobs: An Extraordinary Career Ever wondered how Steve Jobs was so successful? Discover the answers in this comprehensive overview of his life, career and death.

entrepreneur daily

David Paul Morris | Stringer | Getty Images

Few entrepreneurs have been as impactful as Steve Jobs: the father of Apple computers and one of the most influential business people ever, not only in America but worldwide.

Throughout his career, Steve Jobs started multiple businesses that pushed forward the computer revolution and reshaped how society interfaces with technology.

But how did he attain his titanic success, and what led to his eventual downfall and re-ascension to Apple leadership? These questions have important answers, so keep reading for a closer look at Steve Jobs and his life.

Related: Top 10 Hiring Platforms for Small Business

An overview of Steve Jobs' life

Steven Paul Jobs was an American business owner, entrepreneur, investor and media proprietor. He was best known for co-founding and leading Apple, one of the most successful companies ever. But he also started and ran many successful companies, such as Pixar and NeXT.

Related: Pixar - Articles & Biography | Entrepreneur

Jobs led Apple for many years before he was forced out because of a dispute with the company's Board of Directors. After founding Pixar and NeXT Inc., another computer platform development company, he returned to steer the Apple ship when the company found itself in trying economic times.

Eventually, a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor led Jobs to reduce his working hours and responsibilities. He died at the age of 56 from respiratory arrest.

Though he died before reaching late age, he left a legacy of entrepreneurial ambition and business savvy that cannot be forgotten.

Related: These 5 Steve JobsKeynotes Will Inspire You to Better Sell Your Ideas

What is the history of Steve Jobs and Apple?

The history of Steve Jobs is intricately intertwined with the history of Apple.

It all began in Jobs' youth when he called the co-founder and president of Hewlett-Packard, William Hewlett, for parts for a high school project. Hewlett did more than that.

Related: Hewlett-Packard - Articles & Biography | Entrepreneur

He was so impressed that he offered the young Steve Jobs a summer internship working at Hewlett-Packard.

Image credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images

This turned out to be a destiny-shaping internship, where Jobs met Steve Wozniak: the future primary creator of the Apple Computer. Wozniak was a talented engineer at the time and five years older than Jobs.

Related: Steve Wozniak - Articles & Biography | Entrepreneur

Jobs finished his internship and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. However, he decided to drop out after just one semester, eventually working for Atari designing video games to save enough money to take an Eastern spiritual trip.

When did Apple start?

After he returned from his trip, Jobs reconnected with Wozniak and discovered that his friend was trying to build a personal computer. Wozniak saw the entire endeavor as nothing more than a hobby, but Jobs saw the business potential in a personal computer anyone could have in their home.

Jobs convinced Wozniak to go into business with him. At 20 years old, he set up the Apple company in 1975, working primarily out of his parent's garage in San Francisco, California.

The Apple I computer was released shortly after that, while the pair attended meetings of the local Homebrew Computer Club. To make the project work, Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen microbus to generate nearly $1400 in liquid capital.

The Apple I was a modest success and was primarily sold to other hobbyists like Wozniak. But it made the business duo enough money to expand their venture.

Image credit: Science & Society Picture Library | Getty Images

By 1977, they had completed a new product, the Apple II, the first personal computer to include a keyboard and color graphics. Its user-friendliness and innovative features made it an instant market success; in the first year, Apple made $3 million. In another two years, it had made over $200 million.

This was the first timeApple saw significant success. Unfortunately, 1980 saw increased competition caused by companies like IBM, partially due to the lackluster Apple III and LISA follow-up computers. Determined to make his mark on the business world, Jobs helped to create the AppleMacintosh in 1984.

The defining factor? A graphical user interface or GUI which a mouse could control. This revolution changed personal computing for everyone, allowing anyone without programming knowledge to now use a computer.

Why did Steve Jobs have a falling out with Apple?

While the AppleMacintosh was a major technical success, it was priced too high for the consumer market at about $2,495. Furthermore, it wouldn't work for corporate buyers, as it lacked certain features businesses needed (such as high memory, hard drive and networking capabilities).

Though Jobs had helped to usher in a new industry entirely, his aggressive and sometimes egocentric personality led him to clash with Apple's Board of Directors.

By 1983, he had worn out his welcome. He was removed from the board by then-CEO John Sculley. Ironically, Jobs had picked Sculley personally to lead Apple.

Image credit: Ann E. Yow-Dyson | Getty Images

What were Jobs' new endeavors?

Jobs sold his shares of Apple stock and fully resigned in 1985, moving on to build NeXT Computer Co. This new computer company would create another computer to revolutionize higher education.

It was introduced in 1988, offering innovations like good graphics, a digital signal processor chip and an optical disk drive. However, it was still too expensive to attract big buyers, so Jobs pivoted once again.

This time, he took an interest in PixarAnimation Studios, which he had purchased in 1986 from George Lucas. He cut a deal with the Walt Disney Company to create entirely computer-generated feature films, the first and most popular of which was Toy Story: a 1995 smash hit that broke box office records.

Emboldened by this success, Jobs took the Pixar company public in 1996 and, overnight, was a billionaire thanks to his 80% share of the company. Jobs was finally rich, but this was just the beginning of his rise back to fame and power.

When did Jobs return to Apple?

Apple Inc. then bought NeXT for approximately $400 million. More importantly, the company reappointed Jobs to the Board of Directors as an advisor to the then chairman and CEO Gilbert F. Amelio.

This was partially out of desperation and nostalgia, as Apple had not developed a popular Macintoshoperating system for the next generation. As a result, Apple's control of the PC market had dropped precipitously, reaching an all-time low of just 5.3%.

Jobs took the reins once again in March 1997, when Apple announced a $708 million quarterly loss. Jobs took over as the interim Apple CEO when Amelio resigned. To ensure the survival of the company he helped to found, Jobs made a deal with Microsoft, getting some investment capital from the competing company in exchange for a nonvoting minority stake.

Jobs' guidance gradually yielded essential benefits for Apple. He led the "Think Different" advertising campaign and the charge to install a new G3 PowerPC microprocessor in Apple computers, making them faster than competing devices.

Then he led the company to develop the iMac as a new, affordable type of home desktop, which finally resulted in the positive reviews he craved. By the end of 1988, Apple had made nearly $6 billion in sales.

However, the innovative iPhone was the most significant victory under Jobs' belt. Once shortly after the iPod portable audio player launched in 2001 alongside iTunes, the iPhone handset came about in 2007, revolutionizing mobile phones and mobile devices.

Image credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

The iPhone was the first handheld phone to make calls, text and access the Internet from an intuitive and user-friendly touchscreen. These days, all modern mobile phones are based on the original iPhone design.

Related: Why Steve Jobs's Passion for Calligraphy is an Important Example for You

Who created Apple?

Apple was created by both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Throughout the partnership, Wozniak was the technical and engineering brains of the operation, spearheading many of the hardware and software development needed to launch the original Apple line of computers. Jobs handled the business side of things.

Unfortunately, Wozniak and Jobs had many significant disagreements about the design and development of Apple technologies. Things came to a head with the development of the Apple II, and Wozniak ultimately left the company in 1983.

How did Apple get its name?

Supposedly, there's no profound story surrounding Apple and its name — Steve Jobs just liked apples. A potentially apocryphal story says that Steve Jobs suggested the Apple name to Steve Wozniak after the former visited an apple orchard when they were beginning their business.

Ultimately, the name's origin doesn't matter; it's iconic and unique enough compared to other computer firms that it has cemented itself in business history.

What did Steve Jobs invent?

Although Steve Jobs is named an author of 346 patents according to the US registry, he didn't technically invent anything. He didn't invent the Apple I, the Macintosh computer, the universal remote, the iPod, the iPad or the iPhone.

While he understood the design principles and engineering knowledge behind many of these inventions, his primary skill was business acumen.

Jobs may not have invented these revolutionary technologies, but he did inspire those with the skills to create them. More importantly, he knew how to market and sell those inventions, especially on stage. The Macbook Air, Mac computers and other Apple products would not have been as successful without him.

Related: How Steve Jobs Saved Apple

What was Steve Jobs' net worth?

Before his death, Steve Jobs' net worth was approximately $10.2 billion, most of which was tied up in his stock options and similar assets. However, he acquired a very high net worth by age 25, at which point it was $250 million, roughly equivalent to around $745 million in 2021.

Image credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

What were Steve Jobs' major investments?

Throughout his career, Steve Jobs merely invested in companies that he owned, such as Apple, Pixar and NeXT. This is why his wealth ballooned so much after major business breakthroughs. Jobs was also known to hold stock and assets in companies like Microsoft and other tech companies.

What was Steve Jobs' education like?

Like many famous entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs did not have a very comprehensive traditional education. Though he graduated high school and enrolled at Reed College in Oregon, he did not stay there for long.

He dropped out of just one semester without telling his parents. This turned out to be the right choice for his long-term career, as Jobs had the time to focus on Apple and his other endeavors.

Related: Steve Jobs Systematically Cultivated His Creativity. You Can Too

Who is in Steve Jobs' family?

Steve Jobs was born to Joanne Carole Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, German-American and Syrian, respectively.

However, Jobs was adopted by Paul Jobs and Clara Hagopian, who had elected to consider adoption after an ectopic pregnancy in 1955. Jobs reportedly loved his parents and treated them as his "true" family from an early age.

Jobs had one adopted sister, Patricia, who was adopted in 1957. He met his future wife, Laurene Powell, at Stanford Graduate School of Business. They were married in 1991 at Yosemite National Park and had their first child that same year.

Reed, the first child, eventually graduated from Stanford University. The couple's next to children, Erin Siena and Eve, were born in 1995 and 1988, respectively.

However, Jobs had another child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, in 1978, from an on-again-off-again relationship with Chrisann Brennan. Jobs initially denied responsibility for the child but eventually was required to make child-support payments and provide medical insurance coverage for Lisa after a DNA test that proved his fraternity in 1980.

Related: The Best Advice Steve Jobs Ever Gave

What donations, charity and philanthropic efforts did Steve Jobs pursue?

Unlike many wealthy individuals, Steve Jobs was not well known for his philanthropic or charitable donations. He was a very private individual and was repeatedly criticized during his business career for not donating as much money as fellow billionaires.

That said, while his name may be absent from the Million Dollar List of large global philanthropy, many have speculated that large anonymous donations may have been made by Jobs at one time or another.

Jobs did launch the Stephen P. Jobs Foundation after leaving Apple. The Foundation was originally intended to focus on vegetarianism and nutrition but eventually pivoted to social entrepreneurship.

When Jobs returned to Apple in 1987, he eliminated the company's philanthropic programs to cut costs. It's partially because of this that Apple retains a reputation as being among the least philanthropic companies.

Later in life, Jobs donated $50 million to Stanford Hospital and contributed an undisclosed amount of money to cure AIDS. Overall, Jobs is noteworthy and admirable for his business efforts, not for his charitable donations.

Related: As Steve Jobs Once Said, 'People with Passion Can Change the World'

Image credit: Andrew Burton/Stringer | Getty Images

How and when did Steve Jobs pass away?

Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. Although he put off surgery in favor of alternative medicine solutions, he had to undergo a significant reconstructive surgery called the Whipple operation in 2004. Parts of his gallbladder, pancreas, bile duct and duodenum were removed.

Jobs recovered to lead Apple afterward, but in 2008, he lost significant weight. After a liver transplant in April 2009, Jobs' situation had become direr. August 2011 saw him resign as CEO of Apple, remaining chairman.

Unfortunately, he passed away due to respiratory arrest on October 5, 2011, at his Silicon Valley home. He was a fan of Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism. The Jobs family was with him in Palo Alto when he passed.

What are the best Steve Jobs quotes?

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was well known for many inspiring quotes.

Here are a few to keep in mind as you pursue your own business ambitions:

  • "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."
  • "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
  • "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."
  • "Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."
  • "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
  • "I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."
  • "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
  • "You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."
  • "We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, while else even be here?"

Related: 6 Reasons Why Steve Jobs Was Truly One of a Kind

What can Steve Jobs' story teach you?

Steve Jobs had a significant impact on the computer and video industries.

His legacy will never be forgotten, and his business skills and lessons are essential materials for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to learn as they grow their own careers.

Check out Entrepreneur's other articles for more information about business leaders and other financial topics.

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Marketing

What Damian Lillard Taught Me About Personal Branding

Most entrepreneurs don't realize how valuable their personal brand is. Here's what you can learn from Damian Lillard.

Starting a Business

This Startup Wants to Grow Your Side Hustle For You, While Cutting You a Monthly Check

OpenStore gives Shopify owners two interesting options: Sell and walk away with a generous payout, or take a vacation while they do the work.

Business Solutions

Learn Python for Software Engineering for Just $20

Learn the world's most popular programming language and apply it for your business's success.

Franchise

The Franchise Industry is on The Verge of Massive Change With Private Equity's Potential $8 Billion Acquisition of Jersey Mike's

With the emerging trend of heavyweight PE firms targeting iconic brands like Jersey Mike's and Subway for acquisition, the franchising sector is on the brink of a strategic shift that could fundamentally alter the industry landscape.

Side Hustle

This Insurance Agent Started a Side Hustle Inspired By Nostalgia for His Home State — Now It Earns Nearly $40,000 a Month

After moving to New York City, Danny Trejo started a business to stay in touch with his roots — literally.

Management

Strong Leaders Use These 4 Strategies to Build Trust in Their Workplace

Building trust is crucial for peak performance, whether your company goes fully remote, hybrid or follows another model. Research backs this up loud and clear.