Fact Sheet

7 little-known facts about Steve Jobs

In the wake of the imaginative tech guru's death, fresh details about his past girlfriends and biological parents trickle into the mainstream

In the days following his death, obituaries and reflections on Steve Jobs are revealing intriguing, little-known facts about the enigmatic Apple co-founder who closely guarded his private life. Here are seven:

1. He was adopted, and his biological father was Syrian
Jobs was adopted, and his biological father, Abdulfattah Jandali, was a Syrian man who went on to become a political science professor. Arabs embraced Jobs because of his Syrian roots, and the International Business Times once called him "The Most Famous Arab in the World." Jandali, now 80 and living in Nevada, had only light contact with his famous son through the years, sending him a birthday greeting but little else. "This might sound strange, though, but I am not prepared, even if either of us was on our deathbeds, to pick up the phone to call him," Jandali said in an interview less than two months ago. "Steve will have to do that, as the Syrian pride in me does not want him ever to think I am after his fortune."

2. His biological sister is novelist Mona Simpson
Jobs' biological parents, Jandali and Joanne Carole Schiebele, then an American grad student, married 10 months after giving Steve up for adoption. They had another child, Mona. Jobs didn't meet his biological sibling until he was 27, when she invited him to a book party for her novel, Anywhere But Here. Though Simpson painted a not-altogether-flattering picture of Jobs in her Silicon Valley novel, A Regular Guy, the two were close. "We're family," Jobs said in a 1997 interview. "She's one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days."

3. He attended Reed College... and studied calligraphy
It's widely known that Jobs dropped out of college, but seldom noted that the college he did attend for a few months was Portland's uber-liberal Reed College. He cited a calligraphy class he'd taken there as an influence on his Apple products.

4. He did LSD... and he really liked it
Jobs said that experimenting with the psychedelic drug was "one of the two or three most important things he has done in his life," reports The New York Times' John Markoff. Markoff wrote that Jobs "said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand."

5. He met his wife at Stanford
Jobs met his wife, Laurene Powell, when he spoke at the Stanford Business School, where she was pursuing an MBA. She was a vegetarian, like Jobs, and a former investment banker. The two had an immediate connection. A year after Jobs ran across the Stanford parking lot to ask the blonde beauty to dinner, the two married, in 1991, at a Zen Buddhist Ceremony at Yosemite National Park. She's since co-founded a natural foods company, actively championed Teach for America, and supported Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. Last year, President Obama appointed her to a White House panel on community-based social programs.

6. But first he dated Joan Baez
Before marrying Powell, Jobs dated folk singer Joan Baez — who had previously dated Bob Dylan, Jobs' favorite musician. A friend of Jobs' was quoted as saying that she "believed that Steve became the lover of Joan Baez in large measure because Baez had been the lover of Bob Dylan." Jobs was also romantically linked to actress Diane Keaton.

7. He initially tried to treat his cancer with a "special diet"
In October 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with a rare type of pancreatic cancer treatable with surgery, but he hesitated about having the operation — "to the horror of the tiny circle of intimates in whom he'd confided." A Buddhist and vegetarian, Jobs decided instead to pursue alternative therapies and treat his cancer with a "natural diet." He tried doing so for nine months, as the Apple board fretted, before finally having the surgery in July 2004, at which point the cancer might have spread and his chance of long-term survival been reduced. 

Sources: CNN, Daily Beast, Huffington Post, International Business Times, New York Times (2), San Jose Mercury News, TIME

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