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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

iEvidence-The Life Chart of Steve Jobs

Steve has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons. His on-going battle with cancer has meant he has had to step down as CEO of the company he founded-Apple Inc. Although still Chairman of the Board, he has knighted his successor for the day-to-day role. Now I'm not much of an IT type (strictly home grown), so I decided to do some research on why Apple were putting an 'i' in front of products like an iPod? The answer for the iPod, was back in 2000 a consultant likened the new product to a scene from the movie '2001-A Space Odessey' it really stands for nothing in particular. However the whole world knows about it and uses it in everyday speech. That's kind of the exact opposite of 'Life Cycles'. It's known only to a small community, but it does represent something very important indeed: the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle known as 'The Meaning of Life'. That's a big claim I know, but each time I find straightforward evidence, it becomes harder and harder to just dismiss it out of hand. So, in honour of Steve Jobs, let's have a look at his Life Chart together and call it iEvidence.

Let's start with Steve's age 19 'Year of Broken Pathways' (Feb.1974 to Feb.1975). Were there any turning points and challenges? He had dropped out of college and had returned to California, attending weekly meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club and taking a summer job at Atari to get money to go to India. When he got to India he backpacked around, attended an ashram, became a Buddhist (which he still is) and returned with his head shaved. His best friend Steve Wozniak said:- "he was into everything hippy". There is no question, that according to him, this changed his direction and shaped his life. He also began his working career with computers. His challenge became how to integrate these values, a couple of years later, into his computing start-up company called Apple.

Now let's skip forward to his first age 24 'Year of Revolution' (Feb.1979 to Feb.1980). What sort of upheaval and new age happened then? This was not the founding of Apple, as this had already happened, but it was the birth of the Macintosh project (in Sept.1979) and the accidental discovery by Jobs of the thing that changed personal computing forever. He made a visit to Rank Xerox's research facility in Palo Alto (in Dec.1979), where he saw the 'mouse-driven graphical user interface' and had the now widely-reported and legendary epiphany about how to incorporate it into the Mac. I know, I know. I'm beginning to sound like a geek, but that's because I need to inhabit my subject's world, whoever they are. These fateful breakthrough moment's are exactly what characterises a 'Year of Revolution'.

OK, so far so good, now where to next? The answer is always straight to his age 31 'Year of Broken Pathways' (Feb.1986 to Feb.1987). What was the turning point and challenge in his life then? Well he had just left the company he founded due to management issues (he returned to Apple in 1996) and an opportunity to purchase Pixar (the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm) came up. This went on to lose Jobs quite a large amount of money in development for the first few years, but it also went on to make him his first billion. It was also in this year that the Pixar short animation 'Luxo Jr.' had it's world premiere. Is this enough of a new direction and challenge? Does it meet every definition of 'Year of Broken Pathways' including the several years of an uphill struggle? You betcha.

Now let's try his age 36 mid-life 'Year of Revolution' (Feb.1991 to Feb. 1992). What was the upheaval and new age then? This period was dominated by two events. The first was his Buddhist marriage to Laurene Powell, by whom he has three children, the first one being born about six months later. The second was the signing of an agreement with Disney Studios in May,1991 to produce six animated feature films. Each of these films has gone on to sweep across the US and the rest of the world, producing great wealth as well as awards and honours. Jobs went on to become Disney's largest shareholder, with a seat on the Board. Can you see his commercial success spelled out in capital letters in each 'Year of Revolution'? Age 24:- Birth of 'The Apple Mac. Era.' Age 36:-Birth of 'the Disney/Pixar Era.' It's plain as the nose on your face.

I can do more of course, but I'm running out of puff. Now here is your question. What is more important at the end of the day:- the Apple letter 'i' in iPod, which means effectively nothing, or the highly statistically significant 'Life Cycles' theory, which is largely unknown but contains an enormous wealth of meaning? You be the judge. Till we meet again:- "May the cycles always bring you good fortune".


  1. Makes me wonder if there was a particular bright star shining at the moment of his birth. It seems as if the births of the huge achievers must be specially marked in some way. (I'll have to go back and check the night skies for my natal day!) I enjoyed your perspective.

  2. Interesting read. I'm still not what the underlying Principles of "Life Cycles" are though I will read more of your posts and writings to find out.