Long before Apple was the most valuable company in history, it was a startup led by a “reckless upstart” named Steve Jobs.
Today, Jobs is a legend.
But as journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli show in their new biography “Becoming Steve Jobs,” the founder started out as a hyper-energetic, big-dreaming 20-something.
Early in the book, it’s clear that Jobs became immortal because he had something in the late ’70s that nobody else had: the conviction that a computer didn’t have to be shared between four or five people in a lab — it could be used by just one person.
In a section from 1977, Schlender and Tetzeli quote Jobs as saying:
Our whole company is founded on the principle that there is something very different that happens with one person, one computer … What we’re trying to do is remove the barrier of having to learn to use a computer.
That was the brilliance of Apple’s — and Jobs’ — positioning.
While Apple’s competitors like IBM were building room-sized computers for corporations, governments, and universities, Apple was making it person-sized.
In an interview with the New Yorker that year, the 22-year-old Jobs said that Apple had “domesticated” the computer and turned it into an appliance, like a dishwasher or microwave.
It worked. When the Apple II rolled out in April 1977, it launched the personal computing revolution, selling more than 2 million units by 1984.
Jobs’ mission to “remove the barrier of having to learn” technology would animate Apple’s great triumphs of the 21st century: the ease of the iPhone, the rapid downloads of iTunes, the baby-ready accessibility of the iPad.
To Schlender and Tetzeli, that’s how Steve Jobs became Steve Jobs.
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