Steve jobs: glimpses of his early days

Vivek (CA ) (2368 Points)

15 October 2011  

Steve Jobs: Glimpses of his early days



Steve Jobs was different. As they say, he was made out of a different mold. He refused to take regular classes in college because the time-table was too restrictive. He attended classes which fancied him: calligraphy, physics, literature, electronics.

Jobs recognized the genius in his friend Steve Wozniak (Woz). Together they shaped much of the current world of computing. Jobs' genius was not in doing things himself but rather in bringing things together and understanding what makes people buy.

Jobs and Woz

The two tango together on various things. Woz builds a Blue Box which makes free phone calls hooking up to the telephone company signals. Jobs insists on making it into a product. When Woz builds Apple I, the first to feature a central processing unit as we see it today; an easy mechanism to hook a keyboard and  a television set, Jobs insists that it be converted into a commodity circuit board.

Woz joins Jobs into building Apple the company but quits Apple soon after its initial public offering to pursue his own interests. 


Here are early glimpses from Jobs' business life excerpted from various books.


Where does good taste come from?

Jobs is searching for an answer to a most enigmatic question. How to take Apple II from a hobbyist market to the mass market? He comes across Intel's path-breaking print advertisement which for a change does not talk technical specs but focuses on poker chips, hamburgers and race cars -- appealing to the young mass. Jobs thinks it is the single most important lesson he has learnt in his quest.

Jobs tracks down the creative agency that helped Intel's campaign. He convinces an unwilling Regis McKenna by threatening to not leave the latter's office until McKenna accepts Apple as a client. The rest is history.

(adapted from p41-43, iCon, Steve Jobs, the greatest second act in the history of business/Jeffrey S Young, William L Simon)

Spotting talent

Apple IIIn late 1976 Steve Wozniak demoes his Apple II computer at the Homebrew Club. Woz is giving out bits and pieces of information on the Basic commands supported by his new invention. A high-school kid, Chris Espinosa, quickly write down a few Basic programs and keyed them in hurriedly whenever Woz allowed people a closer look at his computer. When Espinosa runs his programs making beautiful graphic shapes on the television attached to the computer, Woz is taken aback and starts showing off to people how easy it is to do things Espinosa did.

Steve Jobs who sees all this, promptly hires Espinosa as the Apple emloyess number eight.

(adapted from p261-262, Hackers, Heroes of the computer revolution/Steven Levy)


First Sale!

Jobs and Woz demo Apple II, built by Woz, in 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club. Apple II is the only computer to feature a keyboard and a connector to connect to a standard television set. It would work out of the box. This attracts attention of Paul Terrel, owner of Byte Shop in Mountain View. Terrel asks Jobs to keep in touch with him.

Byte Shop

Jobs shows up at Byte Shop and tells Terrel, he is keeping in touch. In the ensuing meeting Terrel agrees to buy 50 Apple I.

(adapted from p80-81, The Pixar Touch, The Making of a Company/David A Price)


Separate out concerns 

Suddenly it dawns on the team that they may not get FCC to approve Apple II. The problem is the RF modulator that connects the Apple II computer to the television set is emitting lot more interference than FCC will ever allow.

Steve Jobs turns to his friend Marty Spergel from the Homebrew Computer Club. It is decided that Spergel will build a new RF modulator and ship it separately while Apple ships Apple IIs separately. The dealer who will sell Apples and the modulators separately. The RF interference headache is not Apple's anymore.

(adapted from p261-267, Hackers, Heroes of the computer revolution/Steven Levy)