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i-Man Steve Jobs: The college dropout that rose to dizzying high-tech heights

By Adekunle Adekoya

WHAT made Steve Jobs outstanding in the high-tech world where he was an aristocrat was his focus on using technology to deliver entertainment and information in as convenient a way as possible.  Witness: the PC, the i-Pod, which made enjoyment of music a mobile activity, the i-Phone, and the i-Pad.

The first computer was conceptualized by a 19th century British mathematician named Charles Babbage — the man who created the speedometer. During World War II, the British built Colossus I, a computer designed to break Nazi Germany’s military codes, while at Harvard, IBM’s Mark I computer was assembled. Before Apple, computers were huge mainframes, but a series of technological breakthroughs which space would not permit here made the computer smaller, and enabled Jobs key in his personal vision to deliver the PC.

This unwavering vision largely manifested in the making of what is called the first personal computer, or PC, for short. The first personal computer was the Altair 8800, which briefly appeared on the scene in 1975. Two years later, the Apple II was unveiled. According to Time magazine, it was “the machine that made the revolution,” and was the offspring of Steven Jobs and Steven Wozniak. The latter was Apple’s star designer, while Jobs used uncanny marketing skills to build Apple into a highly profitable concern with stock worth $1.7 billion by 1983.

In 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, along with Mike Markkula Jr., founded Apple. As Apple continued to expand, the company began looking for an experienced executive to help manage its expansion.

In 1978, Apple recruited Mike Scott from National Semiconductor to serve as CEO for what turned out to be several turbulent years. In 1983, Steve Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple’s CEO, asking, “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?”

At Apple’s annual shareholders meeting on January 24, 1984, an emotional Jobs introduced the Macintosh to a wildly enthusiastic audience. The Macintosh became the first commercially successful small computer with a graphical user interface. The development of the Mac was started by Jef Raskin, and eventually taken over by Jobs.

From the personal computer, other innovations followed — the i-Pod, the i-Phone, and the current market rave, the i-Pad. And so, Steve Jobs, unknowingly, became the i-Man in the twilight of his short but eventful and dazzling life.

One fact about Jobs was that his biological parents, Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali, a political sciences professor from Syria put him up for adoption; Paul and Clara Jobs, both deceased, picked him up and made him theirs. While Jobs made up with his biological mum, attempts by his genitor, Jandali, to make up with him never worked.

One fact not very well publicised, but not a secret too, is the fact that recently-deceased Apple co-founder and chief executive, Steve Paul Jobs was a college dropout. After graduating high school in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, but he dropped out after only one semester. In that regard, he was fulfilling the same destiny as America’s other IT prodigies like Bill Gates and Michael Dell. Gates, studying maths and law at Harvard, took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) at MITS in Albuquerque in November 1975, and never returned to Harvard to complete his studies.

Similarly, Michael Saul Dell, a pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin also abandoned his studies to sell PCs, at age 19, and barely a decade later became the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Herein are the lessons for us Nigerians and those who manage our affairs; it is not certain these guys could have attained the dizzying heights they made if they were on this part of terra firma; the mere appelation “dropout”was enough to ruin what other prospects they might have had.

Now that the i-Man has gone, who is next, and what alphabet will he use for the next innovation? The world is waiting!


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