All Research

Jobs: History vs. Hollywood

For the movie starring Michael Fassbender, see Steve Jobs (2015)

Starring Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad, Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Modine, James Woods | based on the life of Steve Jobs from 1971 to 2000

Ashton Kutcher
Born: February 7, 1978
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA
Steve Jobs
Born: February 24, 1955
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, USA
Death: October 5, 2011, Palo Alto, California, USA (pancreatic cancer)
Josh Gad
Born: February 23, 1981
Hollywood, Florida, USA
Steve "The Woz" Wozniak
Born: August 11, 1950
Birthplace: San Jose, California, USA
Dermot Mulroney
Born: October 31, 1963
Alexandria, VA, USA
Mike Markkula
Born: February 11, 1942
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Matthew Modine
Born: March 22, 1959
Loma Linda, California, USA
John Sculley
Born: April 6, 1939
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
J.K. Simmons
Born: January 9, 1955
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Arthur Rock
Born: August 19, 1926
Birthplace: Rochester, New York, USA
Lukas Haas
Born: April 16, 1976
West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Daniel Kottke
Born: April 4, 1954
Birthplace: Bronxville, New York, USA
Ron Eldard
Born: February 20, 1965
Long Island, New York, USA
Rod Holt
Eddie Hassell
Born: July 16, 1990
Corsicana, Texas, USA
Chris Espinosa
Born: September 18, 1961
Birthplace: San Bernardino, California, USA
Nelson Franklin
Born: July 2, 1985
Los Angeles, California, USA
Bill Atkinson
Born: March 17, 1951
Birthplace: Iowa, USA
Giles Matthey
England, UK
Jonathan Ive
Born: February 27, 1967
Birthplace: Chingford, United Kingdom
James Woods
Born: April 18, 1947
Vernal, Utah, USA
John "Jack" Dudman
Born: April 23, 1920
Birthplace: Iowa, USA
Death: July 23, 2008, Portland, Oregon, USA
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is, everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again. -Steve Jobs (Interview with the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, 1995)

Questioning the Story:

Was Steve Jobs adopted?

Yes. He was born to Joanne Schieble and Syrian immigrant Adbulfattah "John" Jandali but was put up for adoption when Joanne's extremely religious, dying father threatened to disown her. The couple required that the adoptive parents be college graduates and such an adoption was arranged, but on the day he was born the couple decided they wanted a girl instead. He ended up being given to Paul and Clara Jobs, who did not meet the only criteria Joanne and John had given, so they delayed the adoption. They were counting on her father dying soon, in which case they could be married and keep their son, but they eventually gave in. They added a stipulation for Paul and Clara that an account was to be created for Steven's college education and so it was. His biological parents were married a year later and had a daughter named Mona. They divorced after only a few years of marriage. In addition to his biological sister Mona, he also has an adopted sister named Patty. While he loved his parents, he did develop his own views on adoption. Chrisann Brennan, the mother of his daughter Lisa, noted that, "He said he was fine with abortion but never pushed for it. He strongly discouraged me putting up the child for adoption." Many close to him speculate that his striving to succeed is rooted in a feeling of abandonment from childhood, but Jobs disagrees.

Did the real Steve Jobs have a history of drug use?

Yes. The Jobs movie true story reveals that he started using marijuana when he was fifteen-years-old and began using LSD by his senior year at Homestead High School. Steve doesn't try to hide it, claiming, "Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there's another side to the coin, and you can't remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was importantcreating things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could." Like in the movie Jobs, he was tripping on acid with girlfriend Chrisann when, "all of a sudden the wheat field was playing Bach".

Apple Welcome IBM Seriously Ad
Actor Ashton Kutcher (left) recreates a familiar photo of the real Steve Jobs (right) posing on a desk at Apple headquarters.

Why did Steve drop out of Reed College?

There are a few reasons he attributes to his decision. For one, he disagreed with the strict course guidelines given. He wanted to only take classes that were of interest to him. Secondly, he had no idea what direction he wanted to take in life, and he felt like he was wasting his parents' hard-earned money on nothing. Ultimately, he decided to drop out and "trust that it would all work out okay".

Was Jack Dudman (James Woods' character) really okay with him auditing classes after dropping out?

Yes. In researching the Jobs true story, we learned that Jack Dudman, the dean of students at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, permitted Steve Jobs to audit classes and stay in dorms after dropping out six months into his education. Jack was impressed, "He had a very inquiring mind that was enormously attractive. He refused to accept automatically received truths and he wanted to examine everything himself." He spent an additional 18 months dropping in.

Was Steve Jobs a fruitarian?

Yes, at one point he was. He always followed strict diets, which varied at different times in his life. He went through phases of being a fruitarian, a vegan, a vegetarian and he often dabbled in fasting. He believed his diets would prevent body odor so he rarely showered. His assumption was incorrect and was a problem for various companies he worked for, including Atari and Apple.

Was he forced to work at night for Atari due to complaints from co-workers about hygiene and attitude?

Yes. After landing the job by simply walking into Atari and refusing to leave until he was hired, a number of complaints came in from his colleagues. In an effort to appease everyone, his boss, Nolan Bushnell, allowed him to work at night instead.

Did Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs build the video game Breakout for Atari?

Yes. In 1975 Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, Inc., envisioned a single player Pong game and he asked Steve Jobs to design it. That game became known as Breakout. Unlike what is shown in the Jobs movie, Bushnell counted on the fact that Steve Jobs would recruit Steve Wozniak to help him design the game, knowing full well that Wozniak was the better engineer. "I looked at it as a two-for-one thing," recalls Bushnell. -Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Did Steve lie to Woz about how much money Atari paid him for the game?

Jobs and Woz
Woz (left) and Jobs working on the Apple II circa 1976.
It depends on who you ask. According to Walter Isaacson's book Steve Jobs, the game had a base pay plus a bonus based on the number of chips saved. The claim is that Stephen Wozniak was only paid half of the base and wasn't even aware of the bonus that was awarded because of his ability to save five chips. Jobs says, "I gave him half the money I ever got. That's how I've always been with Woz." Wozniak recollects, "I remember the details of this one, the $350 check." Former Atari boss Nolan Bushnell confirms, "I remember talking about the bonus money to Woz and he was upset. I said yes, there was a bonus for each chip they saved and he just shook his head..." They let it go.

Did Steve Wozniak really create the first display connected computer?

According to the real Steve Wozniak, "Sunday, June 29, 1975 was pivotal. It was the first time in history anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on their own computer's screen right in front of them." -iWoz book

Did Wozniak really have a Dial-A-Joke line?

Yes. According to his book iWoz, he created the line where callers dialed in for a joke and an answering machine would give them a Polish joke for the day. Occasionally, he would answer the phone himself which happens to be how he met his first wife, Alice Robertson. This venture lasted a few years but caused headaches for a number of people who had similar numbers that were accidentally being dialed. He changed it several times to more foolproof phone numbers but it never helped. Eventually, he shut it down due to costs.

Was one of the possible names for the company really Enterprise Computers?

Apple I Computer
A fully assembled Apple I computer with wooden casing (Smithsonian). Originally sold for $666.66, collectors have paid as high as $671,400 at auction.
Neither Woz nor Jobs have said that any Star Trek themed names, including Enterprise and Phaser Beam Computers mentioned in the movie, were discussed as options for the company. However, the true story behind the movie Jobs reveals that basic names such as Matrix and Personal Computers Inc. were considered. In the end, they decided to temporarily name it Apple, agreeing that if they couldn't come up with anything better prior to filing the necessary paperwork, it would stick.

Why is Apple Computers named Apple?

The name Apple came from Steve Jobs and was picked for a variety of reasons. Although it was not depicted in the movie, the true story shows that the fruitarian Jobs often frequented a 220-acre apple farm turned commune called the All One Farm outside of Portland. Daniel Kottke accompanied him on his visits. He had just returned from one such trip when he and Woz were deciding on a company name. He viewed Apple as simple, fun and not intimidating, which was the opposite of how people currently viewed computers. Like in the Jobs movie, it was also noted that it would come before Atari in the phonebook, an added bonus. Wozniak did remark about issues with The Beatles' Apple Records name, but perhaps it was for the better since they both were fans.

Was Apple Computer started in the Jobs family's garage?

Jobs in his garage
Steve Jobs in his family's garage (the "Apple Garage") in 1976.
Yes. The real Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in the garage of Steve's parents' house in Los Altos. They also commandeered the kitchen table and his sister's vacated bedroom. They recruited whoever was available to help, including Daniel Kottke, his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Holmes, and Job's pregnant sister Patty (others shown in the movie, including technician Rod Holt, didn't come on board until they began work on the Apple II). Steve's father, Paul Jobs, halted his side venture of repairing old cars and gave them the whole garage. He added a long workbench, built a new plasterboard wall on which he hung a schematic of the computer, set up rows of labeled drawers, and built them a burn box so they could test the computer boards by running them at high temperatures.

Was Steve Jobs's real childhood home featured in the movie?

Yes. Scenes featuring the exterior of the family home were shot at Steve Jobs's former childhood home in Los Altos.

Did the owner of the Byte Shop really expect a more complete product?

Yes. Byte Shop owner Paul Terrell had been expecting a more complete product, not just boards. They included no power supply, case, monitor or keyboard. Like in the movie, Jobs convinced him to accept the order and pay.

What was Rod Holt's initial role at Apple?

Rod was brought in to design a new power supply for the Apple II computer so that it would not overheat, eliminating the need for an internal fan. He is responsible for creating the revolutionary switching power supply, which is significantly lighter due to the fact that it did not require a transformer.

Did Jobs really refuse to give founders' stock to Daniel Kottke when Apple Computer went public?

Yes. Although he could have been awarded founders' stock, Jobs and the board decided not to allow it. He said that since Kottke was not high enough in the company and not salaried that he did not meet the criteria to receive options. He was not the only worker to get shortchanged in the deal. Steve Wozniak took it upon himself to create what he fondly refers to as The Woz Plan. He allowed employees to buy 2,000 shares a piece at $5 a share, which forty employees did. In addition to this, he remained loyal to those jilted by Jobs. He gave shares to Dan Kottke, Chris Espinosa, Randy Wiggington and Bill Fernandez because of their pivotal roles in the first stages of Apple. The company went public December 12, 1980.

Did the real Steve Jobs sign for visitation rights of Lisa Nicole Brennan Jobs?

Lisa with her Father
Steve Jobs (right) with his daughter Lisa in the early 1990s.
Yes, but he still had himself convinced that he wasn't the father despite the paternity test saying there was a 94.41% chance that he was. In addition to being ordered to pay child support, he had to pay back welfare payments to San Mateo county that Chrisann Brennan had filed for instead of trying to sue Steve from the start. He was allowed to see Lisa but opted not to for a while. Their relationship was tumultuous and sporadic, but she did choose to live with him and the new family he had with wife Laurene Powell during her four years at Palo Alto High School.

Was the Apple Lisa computer named after his daughter?

Yes. During our investigation into the Jobs movie true story, we discovered that this is true. However, he only admitted it years later. The acronym Local Integrated Systems Architecture was used to explain the name before he fully acknowledged that she was, in fact, his daughter.

Was an ad taken out to taunt IBM?

Apple IBM Ad
(Click to Enlarge)
Apple's 1981 ad "welcoming" IBM into the PC marketplace.
Yes. In August of 1981, a few weeks after IBM's release of their first personal computer, Apple placed a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal saying, "Welcome, IBM. Seriously." View the Apple Welcome IBM ad.

Was the overpricing of the Macintosh the reason for the loss in sales?

Steve believes that it was and blames CEO John Sculley for the failure. "It's the main reason the Macintosh sales slowed and Microsoft got to dominate the market," insists Jobs. Sculley and Jobs had debated the price and in the end Sculley won, pricing it $500 more than expected in order to cover upgrades and marketing costs. The price was a whopping $2,495 and is believed to have alienated the average user client base for which they were striving.

Why did Steve Wozniak quit?

In February 1981, Woz was in a plane crash that caused him to develop amnesia. At this point, he took some time away from Apple. Once his mind cleared he decided to finish college at the University of California, Berkley under the name Rocky Raccoon Clark. Upon returning to work, he found that he had lost his drive for it and was busy with other interests. As a part of the Apple II team, Wozniak felt underappreciated and realized that he preferred a smaller, tight-knit company atmosphere. When the idea of a universal remote control came to him, he decided to leave and start a new company called CL 9 (short for Cloud 9 which was already taken). Unlike what is seen in the movie, he did not go to Steve to let him know about his decision. He went to his Apple II division engineering boss and informed him. Jobs found out through a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Wozniak insists that he did not leave because he was mad at Apple but simply because he had a new interest, the remote. Jobs appears to have held a grudge for a time and even disrupted the remote's manufacturing process by stopping a company associated with Apple from designing the casing for the remote. -iWoz book

When did Steve Jobs come back to Apple?

On December 20, 1996, it was announced that Jobs would come back as a part-time advisor, which he did in January of 1997. CEO Gil Amelio resigned that July and on September 16, 1997, Steve Jobs became the iCEO (short for interim CEO).

Did Jobs really dump 1.5 million shares of Apple stock?

Yes. The real Steve Jobs had received the shares as well as cash for the purchase of his company NeXT. A stipulation required that he hold the shares for at least six months and was to inform the company if he was selling them. He didn't. He dropped his 1.5 million shares without informing CEO Gil Amelio and proceeded to lie to him about it when asked directly. Gil only found out after the SEC filing revealed that Jobs was the seller. Jobs claimed that he thought the company was headed down and wanted out, but he was too embarrassed to admit it. Later, he claimed that he didn't think he needed to tell him. Some believe that this was all part of his plan to become CEO of Apple by making Gil look incapable. Soon after, Gil was removed and Steve was offered the position.

What job did Jonathan Ive have at Apple Computers?

Jony Ive was the head of the design team when Steve returned. The pair collaborated on the iMac and his simplistic design work can be seen on all new products. You can thank him for choosing the iconic pure white color of the iPod and headphones we see everywhere today.

Did Steve ever meet his biological parents?

After his mom died and he got the okay from his dad, he found his biological sister Mona and his mother Joanne Simpson. They all developed a good relationship over the years, but he refused to meet his father who had abandoned them when Mona was five. (Keep in mind that he had abandoned his own daughter Lisa and was trying to mend their relationship. It seems Steven believed that his father should have done the same for the child he abandoned as well.) Through his sister, he learned that he had coincidentally already met his father at a restaurant he had frequented. His father later discovered online that Steve was his son but respected Jobs' wish for him not to have contact.

Steve Jobs Speeches, Interviews and Related Video

Explore the Jobs movie true story through the videos below. Watch the iconic Apple '1984' commercial and view Steve Jobs speeches from Apple Events, including the unveiling of the Macintosh and the iPod.

 Steve Jobs Introduces the Famous '1984' Apple Commercial

During the 1983 Apple Keynote, Steve Jobs unveils the famous '1984' Apple commercial directed by sci-fi director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner). The ad debuted for the masses in 1984 during Super Bowl XVIII. It features a female athlete entering an auditorium and hurling a sledgehammer through a large video screen displaying "Big Brother," who symbolizes Apple's then rival, IBM.

 Steve Jobs Hosts the Macintosh Software Dating Game Featuring Bill Gates (1983)

In October of 1983, Steve Jobs invited Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and two other software CEOs to an Apple Event. He pretended to host what was titled, "The Macintosh Software Dating Game." Jobs questions Gates, who offers praise for the Macintosh, stating that it's "really new and really captures people's imagination." Gates says he expects Microsoft to get half of its 1984 revenues from its software for the Macintosh, a statement that makes Steve Jobs giddy.

 Steve Jobs Unveiling the Macintosh on January 24, 1984

Steve Jobs unveils the Macintosh computer at Apple's Annual Shareholders Meeting on January 24, 1984. He touts its 128K bytes of RAM and its three-and-a-half inch disk drive that he states will be the "disk of the '80s." He also emphasizes the Macintosh's incredible black and white screen and built-in voice sound.

 Apple Steve Jobs The Crazy Ones Commercial (1997)

Steve Jobs narrates Apple's first Think different commercial that begins, "Here's to the Crazy Ones". Jobs version of the 1997 commercial never aired. Instead, actor Richard Dreyfuss did the voice-over for the final version, leaving the Jobs version largely unseen.

 Steve Jobs Introduces the Original iPod in 2001

This is the real-life version of the scene that the Jobs movie opens with, a low-key Special Event that took place at the Apple Town Hall on October 21, 2001. During his address, Steve Jobs unveils a new portable music device, the iPod. He emphasizes its incredible ability to hold 1,000 songs.

 Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

Watch Steve Jobs Stanford Graduation Speech from 2005. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, tells three stories from his life. The stories include the benefits that came from dropping out of Reed College, why he got fired from Apple at age 30, and his experience with facing death after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

 Jobs Movie Trailer

Watch the Jobs movie preview for the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as the legendary innovator. Actor Josh Gad portrays Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Computer. The movie chronicles Steve Jobs life from 1971 to 2000.

Link-to-Learn More: