After graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, but dropped out after one semester, returning to California in 1974. There he became a member of the Homebrew Computer Club with his friend Steve Wozniak, and also worked at Atari, where he and Wozniak created a circuit board for the video game Breakout.
Founding of Apple Computer
On April 1st, 1976, Apple Computer was founded by Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. The three created fully assembled desktop computers which they called the Apple I. That product was followed a year later on June 5th, 1977 by the very successful Apple II series, which went on to sell nearly 6 million units by the time it was fully discontinued in 1993. The Apple II is considered by some to be the first successful home computer, though it was quickly passed by IBM-based PCs.
Of course, Jobs is best known for another product. The Macintosh computer and the Mac operating system project was created as a project similar to Apple’s Lisa. Jobs took control of the project early on, and eventually made it the focus of the entire company, although the Lisa and Apple II did continue to be sold.
The Mac’s graphical user interface metaphors and the Macintosh’s mouse were famously inspired (some would use a stronger word) by a visit to Xerox’s PARC labs. It was lauded by critics for its ease-of-use and design, particularly with regards to the use of proportional fonts and immediately recognizable iconography based on real-world objects. In January of 1984, the Macintosh line of computers was introduced to the public during Superbowl XVIII in a Ridley Scott directed commercial entitled “1984.” The commercial itself is now considered to be a landmark moment in advertising.
Exit from Apple, founding of NeXT and Pixar
Although the Mac was a revolution for the computer industry, Apple, Inc. suffered from internal divisions between CEO John Sculley and Steve Jobs. Weak Mac sales — part of an overall industry slump — exacerbated the conflicts between the two. Reports that Jobs had become difficult to work with became commonplace. On April 10th, 1985, a board meeting was held to convince Jobs to step back from management and become more of a product visionary. However, in the meeting, Jobs and Sculley began a two-day long power struggle over management of the company, with Jobs lobbying to have Sculley removed completely. Ultimately, Jobs lost. He remained Chairman of the company, but had no clear role. The conflicts continued until Sculley removed Jobs from Apple completely on May 31st, 1985.
Although it was a sad day for Apple and (the company itself would proceed to end up in a downward spiral that would continue until Jobs’ return), Steve himself eventually accepted the decision and later described himself as “grateful” for it. In a 2005 commencement address at Stanford, he said: