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Young Entrepreneur Series Honors Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011

We all know that Steve Jobs was an amazing visionary and brilliant businessman. But before all of his success, he was a kid too. His childhood experiences led him to start Apple with Steve Wozniak when Jobs was just 20 years old.

Steve Jobs was known as a challenging child until he discovered a love of learning, with the help of his 4th grade teacher. He came to love school so much that he skipped the 5th grade and went straight to middle school. Sadly, he was bullied in his middle school at the hands of older students who weren’t interested in learning.

When he was 11, he came home and declared that if he wasn’t transferred to another school, he would stop going to school altogether. His parents moved to Los Altos so that Steve could go to Cupertino Junior High.

This proved to have a huge impact on Steve’s future. Why? Location, location, location. In the 1960s and 1970s, Santa Clara county was a hot spot for computer engineering, sith companies like Shockley Semiconductor Company and Hewlett Packard.

As Steve was growing up in Los Altos, he became increasingly curious about the world of electronics that was all around him.  Invention and exploration gave him a tremendous level of self-confidence, and through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one’s environment.

At Homestead High School, he enrolled in a popular electronics class. Steve shaped his future by calling Bill Hewlett, co-founder of HP, to get spare parts for his homework! He even ended up with an internship at HP. Steve’s entrepreneurial gifts showed up very early!

One of our favorite pictures of Jobs & Woz

Steve and Stephen Wozniak met in 1969, when they were just 14 and 19. At the time, Woz was building a little computer board he called “the Cream Soda Computer” and showed it to Jobs who was super interested.

Just a few years later in 1972, Woz and Steve started their first business. On college campuses, there was a lot of talk about “phone phreaks”- early computer hackers that managed to build “blue boxes” — little devices that fooled AT&T’s long-distance switching equipment, and allowed you to make phone calls for free.

Woz read about them in an article and he and Steve tried to build one. It worked! Jobs came up with the idea of selling them; he and Woz would go from room to room in the UC Berkeley dorms and sell them. Side note: the business was illegal and the two of them stopped after they almost got caught by the police!

Just 3 years later, when Jobs was only 20 years old, Apple was founded. Wozniak had been trying to build a small computer. To Wozniak, it was just a hobby, but the visionary Jobs grasped the marketing potential of such a device and convinced Wozniak to go into business with him. They set up shop in Jobs’ parents’ garage, called it Apple, and started the prototype of the Apple I. Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen microbus, and Steve Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard calculator to get the start up money for Apple.

He will be missed.


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