For the next few weeks, The Greatest Blog Of All Time will be running a series on the life and times of the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and the man who saved America from our sins of using PCs.
The motto of the American Dream is “Get rich or die trying” (copyright 2005, 50 Cent). If there is one thing that American culture values more than a heartwarming rags to riches story, it’s the story of somebody who went from rags to riches and then got fired but then got MORE riches and built any future success upon a foundation of spite. Because of this, nobody epitomizes this American spirit more than Apple founder Steve Jobs.
Truly, the story of Steve Jobs is one of overcoming adversity and failure to become
overwhelmingly arrogant and stubborn successful. Truly, it is the story of a man who had the entire population of a country hanging onto his every word, and he had full control of them.
Truly, it is the story of the American Dream.
Since the beginning of time, people have always needed powerful people to tell them what is cool. People will dispute this claim, arguing that people actually think for themselves, but really, without a popular opinion, society would never advance.
Without the leadership of popular opinion, the wheel never would have been trendy enough to catch on, and cavemen would have just said how they were “so over fire” and pushed up their thick framed caveman glasses.
Jobs understood the power of popular opinion. From a young age, growing up with his adopted parents in California. He understood popular opinion would refer to them as his “adopted parents” his whole life, so he made it a point to correct people and simply call them his parents. Jobs knew that popular opinion ruled how people operated, but unlike most of the populace, he knew that popular opinion could also be changed.
And can you guess what trend was just beginning to arise at the time Jobs was growing up?
The improvement of technology has been a focal point for society for forever, next to finding out which berries were safe to eat and which would put you on the toilet for the rest of the week. In the 1970’s and 80’s, the next technological improvement to come was the personal computer.
During this time, Jobs was a brilliant youngster who was bored with school and would much rather spend his time doing typical rebellious teenage activities like computer programming. He was introduced to Steve Wozniak, another young computer wiz, who was naturally nicknamed “Woz” and will only be referred as that from here on out.
Woz had invented his own form of the personal computer when he was 21 years old, known as the Apple 1. Between their meeting in 1971 and Woz inventing the Apple, Jobs had dropped out of college, traveled to India, done a lot of LSD, and converted to Zen Buddhism, a belief he didn’t necessarily hold onto as strongly as he held onto his hatred of androids (FORESHADOWING). Woz and Jobs, along with another friend who either didn’t end up changing the world or didn’t have a sweet nikename, formed the Apple company in Jobs’ parents’ garage, hoping to just sell it.
Instead, they built an empire.
Over the next few years, Apple would grow and expand, but also experience many problems that rapidly growing companies experience. In particular, everybody wanted to be in charge.
Jobs had lured John Sculley, an executive with PepsiCo, to be CEO of Apple, buy asking him if we would rather sell sugar water for the rest of his life or change the world. Sculley, who would go on to have an X-Files character based on his life, apparently decided that the easy money involved with selling sugar water wasn’t worth it, and wanted the challenge of working with Jobs.
As it turns out, the challenge wasn’t the changing the world part, but rather the actual working with Jobs. Sculley, who was the CEO, was being constantly undermined by Jobs, who had decided Sculley was bad for the company. Sculley learned that Jobs was trying to lead a boardroom coup behind his back, and struck first. After Jobs had started holding meetings long past midnight and then calling new ones at 7am, Sculley decided he was tired of doing actual work and got the board to remove Jobs’ responisbilities.
One could draw a lot of conclusions here. One could be that maybe hiring Sculley wasn’t a good idea because he was too much of a regular businessman and not the visionary Jobs wanted. One could say that it was just a battle of egos, and that nobody wins in those situations.
But one could also draw a pretty freaking sweet analogy out of it. You see, Sculley got his start selling sugar water, something that the whole of the American populace (and the world) now can’t seem to live without. Sculley was the embodiment of the popular opinion: the thing that everybody agreed upon without question.
Jobs, however, couldn’t agree with that. The Apple motto was “Think Different”, which besides not necessarily being grammatically awesome, stood as something Jobs fully believed in. He believed that the popular opinion wasn’t always the best thing in the world, and he lived a life that bought into that belief.
So Jobs was out of Apple, but he wasn’t done. He had “failed” according to the popular opinion, but as we’re starting to learn, that wasn’t how HE saw things.