As controversial as he was creative, Mr. Jobs enforced a culture of secrecy at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. Mr. Jobs, who grew up idolizing the Hewlett-Packard ideal of an egalitarian workplace where employees were valued, was known in his younger years for playing pranks on underlings, reversing direction without acknowledging that he had changed his mind and yelling at company directors. He also refused to acknowledge paternity or pay child support for his first daughter for years. He threatened to sue teens who published Apple gossip on their Web sites.
In 1985, after tangling with John Sculley, the Pepsi executive he brought in to run the company, Mr. Jobs sold $20 million worth of stock and resigned from Apple. He and Wozniak had just received the National Medal of Technology from President Ronald Reagan. “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” he said in his 2005 address at Stanford. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
After several months, Mr. Jobs hired some of his former employees to begin a new computer company, called Next.
During that period, Mr. Jobs paid filmmaker George Lucas $10 million for a small computer animation firm and, over the next six years, he poured another $40 million of his own money into the company as it set out to make the first computer-animated feature film, “Toy Story.”
In late 1996, Apple bought Next for more than $400 million. Within months, Mr. Jobs was back at Apple as an adviser and quickly became chief executive again.
He stunned the faithful at a Macworld conference in August 1997 when he announced a partnership with Microsoft, accepting a $150 million investment in exchange for preloading Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser on Apple computers. An unprecedented alliance between rivals, the deal ultimately saved the company by reassuring customers that they could use Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office software on Macs. “We want to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose,” Mr. Jobs said, to shouts of dismay from his normally adoring audience. “Madman at the wheel, eh?” he added, laughing, as he walked off the stage.