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Two Steves who changed the world

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, have between them revolutionized world culture.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2006 17:38 IST

Steve Jobs, the tech-savvy marketing genius, and Steve Wozniak, who invented the Apple computer, have between them revolutionized world culture over the past three decades.

The two college dropouts created the California company that has changed the way people use computers, listen to music -- now through the iPod -- and even buy music by downloading it from the Internet.

"They are smart, creative people who see things the world doesn't see and had the courage to follow their beliefs when the world told them they were wrong," said industry analyst Michael Gartenberg of JupiterResearch.

Both Steves took uncommon paths to success.

Born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955 to a single mother, Jobs was put up for adoption at barely a week old, according to company biographical information.

He was adopted by a couple in Mountain View, south of San Francisco, and grew up playing in orchards in what is now Silicon Valley, the biography said.

As a high school student Jobs attended lectures at Hewlett-Packard in nearby Palo Alto, and worked a summer job there with Wozniak.

Jobs dropped out of college after a single semester, but continued to take classes, including a calligraphy class he late cited as the reason Macintosh computers were designed with multiple typefaces.

When he was 20, Jobs made a spiritual journey to India, returning with his head shaved and wearing traditional Indian garb.

He got work as a technician for video game pioneer Atari and attended a garage club called "Homebrew Computer Club" with Wozniak. That earned Wozniak the opportunity to visit Jobs at work and play Atari games for free.

Wozniak, nicknamed "Woz," was born in San Jose, now part of Silicon Valley, on August 11, 1950.

He has cited his father, an aerospace company engineer, as a childhood inspiration, along with the fictional boy inventor in the Tom Swift children's book series.

By the time Wozniak was 13, he was president of a high school electronics club already dabbling with computer design.

Like Jobs, Wozniak tried college, in Colorado, but dropped out and returned to California where he and a friend built a computer they named after the cream soda they drank while working on it.

The machine burned during a test run and the project was dropped. But the endeavor resulted in Wozniak getting to know his friend's close pal, Jobs.

Jobs was 21 and Wozniak 26 and working as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard when they founded Apple Computer in the garage of Jobs' family home in 1976.

The rest was consumer electronics and lifestyle history: the popularisation of personal computers end eventually the iPod, the best-selling digital music player.

With marketing-oriented Jobs in the lead, Wozniak left Apple in 1981, but returned in 1983 to work for a few more years.

He meanwhile went back to university, earning a Bachelor's degree in engineering and computer science at University of California-Berkeley in 1986.

Today he has three adult children, two sons and a daughter, a house in Los Gatos, California, Hummer automobiles, and the U2 band model iPod.

Promoting education is one of Wozniak's passions, along with playing polo on Segway gyroscope-balanced two-wheeled scooters. His stated accomplishments include having visited every Hard Rock Cafe in the world.

Wozniak is expected to release an autobiography titled "I, Woz" later this year and has his own website at www.woz.org.

Jobs, who became the more public face of Apple, went from celebrity bachelor days that included a relationship with folk singer Joan Baez to settling into family life in Palo Alto. He married in 1991 and has three children by his wife and a daughter with a woman he dated prior to marrying.

Jobs left Apple for a time after an internal power struggle, but returned in 1997 to rejuvenate the company and remains at its helm.