10 Unusual Things I Didn't Know About Steve Jobs

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by James Altucher: 8
Alternatives to College



I was standing
right next to Steve Jobs in 1989 and it was the closest thing I
ever felt to being gay. The guy was incredibly wealthy, good looking
enough to get any girl, a nerd super-rockstar who had just convinced
my school to buy a bunch of NeXT machines (which, btw, were in fact
the best machines to program on at the time) and I just wanted to
be him. I wanted to be him ever since I had the Apple II+ as a kid.
Ever since I shoplifted Ultima II, Castle Wolfenstein, and half
a dozen other games that my friends and I would then rip from each
other and pretend to be sick so we could stay home and play all

I don’t
care about Apple stock. (Well, I
do think it will be the first trillion dollar company
). Or about
his business successes. That’s boring. The only thing that
matters to me is how Steve Jobs became the greatest artist that
ever lived. You only get to be an artist like that by turning everything
in your life upside down, by making horrible, ugly, mistakes, by
doing things so differently that people will never be able to figure
you out. By failing, cheating, lying, having everyone hate you,
and coming out the other side with a little bit more wisdom than
the rest.

So, 10 Unusual
things I didn’t know about Steve Jobs.

1) Nature
versus Nurture.
His sister is Mona Simpson but he didn’t
know it until he was an adult. Mona Simpson was one of my favorite
novelists from the late 80s. Her first novel, Anywhere but Here
, was about her relationship with her parents. Which, ironically,
was Steve Jobs parents. But since Steve Jobs was adopted (see below)
they didn’t know they were brother-sister until the 90s when
he tracked her down. It’s proof (to an extent) of the nature
versus nurture argument. Two kids, without knowing they were brother
and sister, both having a unique sensibility of life on this planet
to become among the best artists in the world in completely different
endeavors. And, to me it was great that I was a fan of both without
realizing (even before they realized) that they were related.

2) His father’s
name is Abdulfattah Jandali.
If you had to ask me what Steve
Job’s father’s name was I never in one zillion years would’ve
guessed that and that Steve Jobs biologically was half Syrian Muslim.
For some reason I thought he was Jewish. Maybe its because I wanted
to be him so I projected my own background onto him. His parents
were two graduate students who I guess weren’t sure if they
were ready for a kid so put him up for adoption and then a few years
later had another kid (see above). So I didn’t know he was
adopted. The one requirement his biological parents had was that
he be adopted by two college educated people. But the couple that
adopted him lied at first and turned out not to be college educated
(the mom was not a high school graduate) so the deal almost fell
through until they promised to send Steve to college. A promise
they couldn’t keep (see below). So despite many layers of lies
and promises broken, it all worked out in the end. People can save
a lot of hassle by not having such high expectations and overly
ambitious worries in the first place.

3) He made
the game “Breakout”.
If there was one thing I loved
almost as much as the games on the Apple II+ it was playing Breakout
on my first-generation Atari (I can’t remember, was that the
Atari 2600?) And then breakout on every version of my Blackberry
since 2000. If he had never done anything else in life and I had
met him and he said, “I’m the guy who made Breakout”,
I would’ve said, “you are the greatest genius of the past
100 years.” Funny how things turn out. He went on from Atari
to form Apple. Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, went to form the
greatest restaurant chain in the history of mankind: Chuck E. Cheese.

4) He denied
paternity on his first child
, claiming he was sterile. The other
had to initially raise the kid using welfare checks. I have no judgment
on this at all. Raising kids is hard. And when you have a kid you
feel like this enormous energy and creativity you have for the world
is going to get misdirected into a … little baby (Jobs’
parents must’ve felt that way as well. Like father, like son).
Heck, I
originally wanted my first kid to be aborted
. But people change,
mature, grow up. Eventually Jobs became a good father. And that’s
what counts in the end. Much worse if it was the reverse. I didn’t
know this either: that the Lisa computer (the “Apple III”)
was named after this first child.

5) He’s
a pescetarian.
In other words, he eats fish but no other meat.
And he eats anything else a vegetarian eats (including eggs and
dairy). Turns out if you compare pescetarians with regular meat-eaters
they have a 34% less chance of dying of heart disease. And if you
compare vegetarians with meat eaters, they only have a 20% less
chance of dying of heart disease. I think from now on I’m going
to be a pescetarian, just because Steve Jobs is one. Except when
I’m in Argentina. In Argentina you have to eat steak. Ted Danson
and Mary Tyler Moore consider themselves pescetarians. Somehow,
even the world “pescetarian” seems like it was invented
in California.

the rest of the article

25, 2011

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