Person of the Week: Steve Jobs

He has transformed the world of computers, movies and mobile phones.

ByABC News
January 29, 2010, 1:00 PM

Jan. 29, 2010— -- What drives Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs, the man who captivated the world this week by announcing the iPad?

Jobs looked back to his youth during a commencement address at Stanford University in 2005: "When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, 'If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'"

Most people know this much about Steve Jobs: In a California garage back in 1976, Steve Jobs built the brains of the Apple computer.

But you may not know as much about the private side of Jobs -- he was adopted by working-class parents, dropped out of college, followed a guru, and became a Buddhist and a vegetarian. And he still worships Bob Dylan.

By his mid-twenties, he was a Silicon Valley wunderkind and a mini-mogul. The bearded 26-year-old thrived in the startup community. "The penalty for failure for going and trying to start a company in this valley is nonexistent," he said.

Jobs founded Apple, but he was also fired by Apple after losing out in a round of corporate infighting.

"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me," Jobs said. "The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."

He started another company, which Apple bought. So, Jobs returned to Apple, older and wiser, but still plotting revolution.

Technology forecaster Paul Saffo has followed Jobs' work for years. "What I've observed is Steve is the energizer bunny of innovation," Saffo said. "He just keeps pushing harder than ever and faster than ever at a point where most will rest on their laurels. Most people are happy to deliver one revolution, but Steve's delivered at least four, and he seems like an obsessed man ready to do yet more again."