By Gel Santos Relos
iPhone. iPad. iPod Touch. MacBook ... and many more. Steve Jobs changed our world. But do you know that he came from an immigrant family, was born out of wedlock, and that his mom had him adopted as a baby? This is the story of Steve Jobs. This may be your story.
It was the first time the passing of a CEO of a company caused so much sadness and grief on a global scale. Most never even knew him personally, yet they mourned for his death so deeply. On October 5, Steve Jobs died at the young age of 56, reportedly because of pancreatic cancer -- a disease he had been battling with for seven years.
If you are calling, texting, or tweeting from an iPhone; listening to your music from your iPod; purchasing music or videos from iTunes; reading this or the news; updating your status on Facebook on your iPad; surfing the internet and doing your work from your Mac laptop or desktop computer -- you are living Steve Jobs’ vision.
Steve Jobs was THE American computer genius, entrepreneur and inventor. He was co-founder of Apple, Inc.and served as Chairman and CEO of the company, until he retired in August 2011 because of his illness.
He was chief executive of Pixar Animations, became member of the board of directors of The walt Disney Company in 2006, and was executive producer of the very popular animation film, “Toy Story” in 1995.
Apple Inc. was reportedly richer than America, its cash holdings had swelled to more than $76-billion. Steve Jobs himself was listed by Forbes to have a net worth of more than $ 7-Billion as of September 2011, placing him #39 among the Forbes 400 Richest Americans, and #110 among Forbes Billionaires worldwide.
You would think Steve Jobs was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, to a rich white American family and his success was not a surprise.
But the fact is, Steve Job’s humble beginnings were like those of many ordinary Americans. His family story is more heartbreaking than what we see in our favorite telenovela or “Maalaala Mo Kaya” episode.
New America Media reported that Steve Jobs was the son of a young Syrian Muslim immigrant in Wisconsin named Abdul Fattah Jandali, who never met his son. When a baby was born to 23-year-old Jandali (now known as John) and his 23-year-old German-American girlfriend, Joanne Schieble in 1955, there was no chance he'd be able to grow up with his biological parents because of the complexity of their situation then.
The narrative of Steve’s biological parents was a classic "forbidden love" story you see in teleseryes.
The New American Media article said his mom Joanne, who belonged to a white, conservative Christian family, could not convince her parents to marry an Arab and a Muslim.
According to his biological father, Steve’s biological mom “secreted off from Wisconsin to liberal San Francisco to sort out the birth and adoption without letting either him or her parents know.”
Jandali and Joanne eventually did marry but only after the big impediment to their relationship--Joanne’s father-- died. This, however, happened ten months after Joanne gave birth to Steve and had given baby Steve up for adoption.
The New American Media report said that Joanne and Jandali had another child -- a daughter, with whom Steve Jobs eventually had a relationship. Mona Jandali (now Mona Simpson) is a world-renowned author and claimed that she was "very close" to her brother Steve once they established a relationship as adults.
But Steve and his biological father never had a relationship. Jandali said he never knew the popular and rich computer genius was his son, until a few years ago.
In an interview with the Reno Gazette, Steve's now 80-year-old biological dad (who now lives and works as the Vice President of a casino in Reno, Nevada) said "The Syrian pride in me does not want him ever to think I am after his fortune. I am not. I have my own money. What I don’t have is my son...and that saddens me," he said.
On August, 2011, Jandali tried to publicly reach out to Steve via the London Tabloid The Star. But Steve, reportedly, never replied. Less than two months later, he passed away.
The parents Steve Paul Jobs knew and recognized were his adoptive parents. He was the baby Clara Hagopian and her husband Paul Jobs, an Armenian American couple, had always wanted. They were then married around seven years and had not been able to conceive.
But Clara and Paul jobs were not rich. In fact, Steve’s biological mom almost did not sign the final adoption papers, when she found out that the couple who will raise her son were not college graduates (which was her requirement in choosing the adoptive parents for her son).
In Steve Jobs’ own words, “My biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later, when my parents promised that I would go to college.”
Steve and his adoptive parents lived in San Francisco, California and then moved to the Silicon Valley in Mountain View, California when he was five. His working class parents sent him to public school from grade school to high school. Steve attended after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in nearby Palo Alto, California ,where he was hired as a summer employee.
“This was the start in my life. And seventeen years later, I did go to college, but I naïvely chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition,” Steve shared in his 2005 Harvard Commencement Exercise Speech.
So Steve dropped out of Reed College in Oregon and just dropped in courses he was interested in like calligraphy-- from knowledge of which he developed the different fonts later in Mac , which was eventually adopted by the PC.
With no money, Steve had to sleep on the floor in friends' rooms, returned Coke bottles for food money, and got weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.
Having grown up in Silicon Valley, Steve was exposed to the world of computer technology. He knew early on that this was what he was passionate about. He was, in his own words, "idealistic, hungry, and foolish." He dared to be different -- to think outside the box and to traverse unchartered territory, guided by his vision of changing the world.
And so from being an employee in several companies in Silicon Valley, Steve started Apple in his parents’ garage when he was 20. He worked very hard until the company has evolved to be one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world.
President Obama said Steve Jobs “exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. Steve was fond of saying that he lived everyday like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.”
Steve Jobs married Laurene Powell on March 18, 1991 in a wedding presided by the Zen Buddhist monk Kobun Chino Otogawa. The couple have a son and two daughters. Fortune Magazine reported that he also had a daughter from his relationship with Bay Area painter Chrisann Brennan in 1978. His biography is coming out soon and he said he authorized this so that his children would know him better.
Steve Jobs’ life is a testament to the fact that one’s past should never be a hindrance for a person to dream big. His life may very well be the story of many Americans.
He was a son of an immigrant from Syria , born by an American-German mother , and raised by his Armenian- American adoptive parents who are Americans of foreign descent. His adoptive family belonged to the working class. He knew how it was to be "hungry and foolish".
He had a vision and worked hard against all odds to make his dreams come true, even despite his illness in the last years of his life. And as he profoundly told the graduates of Stanford University:
"Our time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary...Stay hungry...Stay foolish...".
And that was how he changed the world.
(Asian Journal Column Article, October 8, 2011)