An apple a day, they say, keeps the doctor away. That certainly has been true in the case of Apple Inc, one of the world's most iconic and successful technology companies, founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs. There would hardly be a young person today who would not have had a brush with some Apple product or the other. Think iMac, iPod, iPhone or iPad, and we are sure you either own one or have used one.
There is an interesting anecdote about how the company Steve Jobs founded came to be known as Apple. Apparently, Steve used to work at some communal farms of friends in Oregon, USA. He was also a big fan of The Beatles, who owned a record company called Apple Records. In the words of Steve Wozniak, Apple's co-founder, "Steve (Jobs) came up with the name. He sometimes worked on orchards up in Oregon. I don't know what kind of orchards they were, but I assume there were apple trees there. I don't ask people where they get their ideas and Steve doesn't tell."
Born on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco to Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian graduate student, and Joanne Simpson, an American student, Steve was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs of California. Interestingly, his biological parents later married and gave birth to and raised Steve's biological sister, Mona Simpson.
Steve went to Cupertino Junior High School and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, frequenting after-school lectures at Hewlett-Packard, where he was soon hired for the summer. Steve enrolled at Reed College but dropped out after a semester. He continued attending some classes, including one in calligraphy, while sleeping on the floor of friends' rooms, returning coke bottles for food money and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.
Steve's India-connection ran deeper than his visits to the Hare Krishna temple. He worked at video game company Atari with the sole intent of earning enough money for a trip to India. He came to India in 1974 along with a fellow student at Reed, later the first Apple employee, in search of spiritual enlightenment. It's not known whether he was enlightened during his trip, but he did go back to America as a Buddhist with his head shaved and wearing traditional Indian clothes.
It was in 1976, after having worked at Atari for a couple of years, that Steve founded Apple along with close friend Steve Wozniak, who was the technical wizard and the computer brain behind Apple. He also was able to lure away John Sculley from his job at Pepsi, telling him, "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"
In 1984, the first Apple commercial was aired during the Super Bowl, one of America's most poplular, televised events, and the Macintosh computer launched then went on to become a huge success commercially. Steve was the persuasive, charismatic director of Apple, variously described by people as erratic, temperamental and egoistic. He might have been all these things, but there is no doubt that he was the man of vision behind the success of apple.
Soon thereafter, there was an industry-wide slump in sales. Steve's relationship with Sculley struggled, leading to internal power struggles and the departure of Steve from the company he had helped create. But he didn't lose heart! He created another computer company called NeXT and also bought over the Graphics Group, now known as Pixar - the company that is responsible for delighting you with classic animation movies such as 'Toy Story', 'Finding Nemo', 'Ratatouille' and many others.
In the meantime, Apple continued to struggle against competition from Microsoft and other computer companies till 1996, when Apple bought NeXT and the board asked Steve to come back and take over operations at Apple once again. Steve Jobs has never looked back since then, launching one successful product after another including the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Quite soon, Apple overtook both Dell and Microsoft in terms of market value. Steve continued to guide the destiny of Apple, despite suffering from a form of pancreatic cancer over the last few years. His is the story of grit and determination and sharp focus and vision, of knowing what you want and going after it.
This series is written by Vikas Verma, a business strategist and Founder and CEO of The Colour Factory