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April 29, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 1:19pm

10 strange facts about Steve Jobs

The Apple founder's life was every bit as innovative as his products.

By Jimmy Nicholls

1. He shares a birthday with the first King of Spain

Both Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, and Steve Jobs were born on February 24, albeit a few centuries apart. While Charles accrued territories in present day Germany, Italy and Spain, Jobs would later acquire shares in Apple, Disney and NeXT. It’s a little early to say who was more important.

2. He was once a Zen Buddhist, and took his countercultural roots seriously

In mid 1974 Jobs travelled to India to visit Neeb Karori Baba, a Hindu guru, with his friend and later Apple employee Daniel Kottke. Returning after seven months he had shaved his head and taken to wearing Indian clothing. He would later retreat for long periods to America’s first Zen monastery, Tassajara in California. The name is derived from indigenous Esselen Indian, meaning "the place where meat is hung to dry".

Buddhists with brollies

3. He occupied a "reality distortion field"

Bud Tribble, current VP at Apple, complained that Jobs often laid down unrealistic schedules.

"In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules," he said.

Andy Hertzfield, another member of the Macintosh development team, corroborated this view, adding that Jobs would oppose others’ ideas before claiming them as his own "without acknowledging that he had ever thought differently". So the famous advert wasn’t the only thing the company took from 1984.

4. His biological parents gave him away, but later married and had novelist Mona Simpson

Jobs’ parents Abdulfattah "John" Jandali and Joanne Carole Schieble were students at the University of Wisconsin when the latter fell pregnant. Jandali claimed they had to put Jobs up for adoption as Schieble’s family objected to their relationship, signing over guardianship on the provision their son would be encouraged to go to college. Describing his parents to biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs said: "Paul and Clara are 100% my parents. And Joanna and Abdulfatah – are only a sperm and an egg bank. It’s not rude, it is the truth."

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5. After dropping out of college he was homeless for awhile, sleeping on friends’ floors and still attending classes

In a speech to Stanford in 2005, Jobs described his college experience in detail. "After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK."

"I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple."
Though he found it scary at the time, in hindsight he believed it was one of his best decisions.

Apple building

6. He poached John Sculley from PepsiCo, only to be fired by him later

In 1983 Jobs enticed Sculley away from the soft drinks manufacturer, saying: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?" Sculley was initially enamoured of Jobs, and the two formed a firm friendship. Following the failure of Macintosh to sell, the Apple board demanded that Sculley contain the Apple founder. Jobs attempted to instigate a coup, and Sculley was furious. Not long after Jobs challenged the board to choose between the pair and discovered he had lost their support, and was effectively booted out of his own company.

7. He named a computer after the daughter he had out of wedlock

Speaking to his biographer Walter Isaacson towards the end of his life, Jobs admitted he had named one of the first Apple computers after his daughter Lisa. In a parallel to the life of his parents, Jobs was aged 23 when his girlfriend Chrisann Brennan fell pregnant. He denied paternity for years, even claiming he was infertile despite testing positive for fatherhood. Speaking to Time magazine, Jobs said: "28 percent of the male population in the United States could be the father". His daughter later reconnected with him, with Jobs paying for her to go to Harvard. She is now a journalist.

8. He dated folk singer Joan Baez

Baez was introduced to Jobs by her sister Mimi Farina. Aged 27, Jobs was 14 years Baez’s junior. "It turned into a serious relationship between two accidental friends who became lovers," he said. His college friend Elizabeth Holmes later said Jobs was attracted to Baez because of her former relationship with Bob Dylan, a man Jobs would later meet in 2004. "I was also afraid that he wouldn’t be really smart anymore, that he’d be a caricature of himself, like happens to a lot of people," Jobs said. "But I was delighted. He was as sharp as a tack. He was everything I’d hoped."

Bob Dylan in concert

9. His car carried no licence plate, only a barcode

Jobs’ car would occasionally be photographed showing the licence plate had been removed, revealing a barcode below. An investigation by iPhone Savior revealed that other cars have barcodes hidden beneath the licence plate, and the fine in California for not displaying one is around $250, with no exemptions. Either he was happy to pay the fine, or the law is not enforced stringently enough for him to have cared.

10. He scored his first internship aged 12 with Hewlett Packard

Building a frequency counter for a school project, Jobs had trouble finding some parts. Someone suggested he phone Bill Hewlett, an engineer and co-founder at the company, and on picking up the phone, Hewlett spoke to Jobs about his project. He was so impressed that he offered Jobs a summer internship.


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