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Who was Steve Jobs the man?

Asher Moses, SMH | Oct. 11, 2011
We know he was driven, ambitious, demanding and a technical genius. But what was Steve Jobs like as a man?

  • Labelled both "soft-spoken and gracious" and arrogant
  • Never met his estranged Syrian father
  • Denied paternity of his daughter for years
  • Dropped out of university, flirted with Buddhism
  • Visited India and came back with a shaved head
  • Dabbled in psychedelic drugs and primal scream therapy
  • A pescetarian who only ate vegetables and fish
  • Family man who idolised the Beatles and Bob Dylan
  • We know he was driven, ambitious, demanding and a technical genius. But what was Steve Jobs like as a man?

    How did his temper stack up to his sense of humour? Was he fair-minded or judgemental? Did he make friends easily and did he keep them?

    Steve Jobs leans his forehead against his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, after delivering the keynote address to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

    Steve Jobs leans his forehead against his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, after delivering the keynote address to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Photo: Lea Suzuki/San Francisco Chronicle

    We do know that, outside of his corporate duties, he was an intensely private man.

    Jobs had a complex personality and to dismiss it as arrogance appears to be selling him short. Rick Lucas, managing partner with Lucas Design in the 1980s, described him as soft-spoken and gracious.

    "In my entire experience with Steve I found him to be soft-spoken and gracious to the point of being deferential," Lucas, who worked alongside Jobs for several months, recalled.

    Steve Jobs.

    Steve Jobs.

    "What others have characterised as bluntness struck me as simply an efficiency of words. Each word spoken by Steve furthered an objective."

    Estranged father hoped for just a coffee with Jobs

    Born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955, Jobs was adopted soon after birth by accountant Clara and machinist Paul Jobs. It was only later in life that he discovered the identities of his estranged parents - graduate student Joanne Simpson and Syrian Muslim Abdulfattah John Jandali, who left the US at age 18 but is now the vice president of a casino in Reno, Nevada.

    Steve Jobs with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (left) in the 1970s. 

    The life and times of Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (left) in the 1970s. Photo: AP

    Jobs never met his biological father, despite Jandali telling The Sun in a rare interview after Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO in August that "I live in hope that before it is too late he will reach out to me".

    "Even to have just one coffee with him just once would make me a very happy man," said Jandali, who bears a striking resemblance to his son.

     

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