Such sad news about Steve Jobs, the Apple Inc. founder whose innovative mind has so dramatically reshaped our world: He died Wednesday, at age 56, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. But as I read the many obituaries and tributes rapidly spreading across the web, on a computer that he invented, I'm struck not only by how much his work has affected our lives, but also by how little we knew about the way Jobs, an intensely private man, lived his own life.
Here are five things you might not have known about Steve Jobs:
1. He was adopted: Jobs was born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955. His biological parents, Joanne Carole Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali (an immigrant from Syria), were both 23 and unmarried University of Wisconsin graduate students at the time of their son's birth. The couple gave the baby up for adoption. Jobs was raised by Paul and Clara Jobs, who had been married since 1946 but were unable to have children of their own. Paul Jobs was a high school dropout who worked as a machinist; Clara Jobs was an accountant.
2. He was headstrong and determined even at a young age: A rambunctious child (he recalled setting off bombs and letting snakes loose in his third-grade classroom), Jobs had calmed down a bit by middle school. In fact, when was 11, he refused to go to the Mountain View, California, middle school he attended, finding it too disorderly for his tastes. So what did his family do? They picked up and moved in order for him to attend another school.
3. He had a biological sister he tracked down in adulthood: Ten months after giving their son up for adoption, Jobs' biological parents married. Eventually, they had a daughter, Mona. Then, five years after the girl's birth, the couple divorced. Jobs' biological mother remarried and the little girl took her stepfather's name. That girl is Mona Simpson, the renowned novelist who wrote the bestseller Anywhere but Here (which she dedicated to "my brother Steve"). Simpson and Jobs didn't meet until Jobs was 27, but he would eventually refer to her as "one of my best friends."
4. He had a daughter he initially didn't acknowledge: In 1978, the same year Apple released its seminal Lisa computer, Jobs' on-again-off-again girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan gave birth to a little girl, also named Lisa. Jobs' insisted that the computer name Lisa stood for “Local Integrated Software Architecture” and denied that he was the baby's father. While Jobs' career took off, Brennan and her daughter lived on welfare. Eventually, however, he acknowledged paternity and took Lisa in to live with him when she was in her teens. He sent her to Harvard, where she graduated in 2000. Lisa Brennan-Jobs is now a successful magazine writer, having penned articles in Vogue and O, The Oprah Magazine.
5. His wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, is a knockout: Jobs met his wife, Laurene, at Stanford University, while he was speaking at a class. They married -- in a Zen Buddhist ceremony in Yosemite National Park -- in 1991 and have three children: a son and two daughters. (Like her husband, Laurene is a vegetarian.) A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, she sits on the boards of directors for many arts, women's rights, and education organizations.
Did you feel you had a clear sense of the man who brought us the iPad, iPod, iPhone, and so much more? Did the details of his life surprise you?
Image via acaben/Flickr