Steve Jobs died yesterday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was only 56 years old. Most know him as the visionary behind Apple and the man in the wire frames and black turtleneck. Because of Jobs, we have iTunes, iPods, iPhones, iPads and an app for everything. Because of Jobs, children enjoy Pixar movies and played Breakout on Atari.
But what you may not know was that Jobs was adopted. In 1955, his parents were college graduate students. His mother Joanne (Schieble) Simpson, unsure that she would marry Jobs’ father John Jandali, gave him up for adoption. Paul and Clara Jobs raised Steve in what is now known as Silicon Valley.
Meanwhile, Jobs’ birth parents married and had a daughter, American novelist Mona Simpson. They later divorced. It was Mona who reunited Jobs with his birth mother later in life, though he never reconnected with his birth father. The death and legacy of Jobs have left many of us wondering what might have been if his birth mother had chosen abortion instead of adoption.
Some are saying, “Steve Jobs changed the world; adoption changed his.” It’s true that Jobs grew up in the right place at the right time, working summer jobs at Hewlett-Packard and learning basic mechanics from his father Paul. But his biological sister Mona Simpson has the same talent and creativity we so loved in Jobs. Maybe he was equal parts nature and nurture, a genetic desire to invent and create pushed down a path to information technology by an upbringing that only the Jobs could have provided. We’ll never know for sure.