The 14 strangest Steve Jobs stories

We all know him as a legendary innovator, but who was Steve Jobs really? These 14 stories from the people who knew him best may give us a clue.

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  • barefeet No showers, no shoes
  • JobsMercedes SL 55 AMG front Licence plates are for losers
  • Handicap sign 'The chairman's special parking spot'
  • toilet Toilet time
  • 800px Vegetarian Maki Sushi at Suzuran Japan Foods Trading Smelly Steve
  • 600px Apple Lisa The Lisa mystery
  • One dollar The lowest salary at Apple
  • googleiconh Exactly the right shade of yellow
  • brennan Who needs money?
  • mask The importance of good design
  • HP The great persuader
  • Alice in Wonderland Curiouser and curiouser
  • Breakout Atari 2600 Wallpaper Poor Woz
  • security Appetite for destruction
  • More stories
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No showers, no shoes

When Jobs worked at game-maker Atari, he was put on the night shift because of his hygiene. His authorised biographer, Walter Isaacson recalled in his biography of Steve Jobs that employees didn't want to work with him because he never bathed and would walk around the office in his bare feet.

Read: Everything you need to know about the new Steve Jobs movie

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Next Prev barefeet

When Jobs worked at game-maker Atari, he was put on the night shift because of his hygiene. His authorised biographer, Walter Isaacson recalled in his biography of Steve Jobs that employees didn't want to work with him because he never bathed and would walk around the office in his bare feet.

Read: Everything you need to know about the new Steve Jobs movie

 

Licence plates are for losers

Jobs drove a Mercedes SL55 AMG and managed to keep a licence plate off it for years due to a loophole in California vehicle laws.

Anyone in California has a maximum of six months after the issuing of a plate number to put a licence plate on a new car. Jobs changed cars every six months to a new, identical model so he could keep the plates off. No real reason for this has ever been revealed, other than Jobs' desire to live the "Think Different" motto.

 

'The chairman's special parking spot'

Speaking of his Benz, Jobs also routinely parked in the handicap parking spot. Apple veteran Andy Herzfield wrote on his website Folklore: "He seemed to think the blue wheelchair symbol meant it was reserved for the chairman."

Jobs allegedly parked there in order to discourage disgruntled employees from keying his car, but it often resulted in unknown parties retaliating anyway, according to Herzfield. To his credit, Jobs probably did need access to the handicap spot in the last few years when his health was rapidly declining, but he should have got a permit to do so.

 

Toilet time

One of Jobs' go-to stress relievers during Apple's early days was to soak his bare feet in the company toilets, according to his biography.

 

Smelly Steve

Though Jobs dabbled in veganism, he was actually a pescetarian most of the time, meaning he would eat fish but no other types of meat.

Jobs believed that a vegan lifestyle meant his body was flushed of mucus - and that, subsequently, it meant he was free from body odour, so he didn't need to wear deodorant or shower regularly. Unsurprisingly, co-workers say that he was very, very wrong.

Actually, the possible lack of complete proteins in meatless diets might impede the body's detoxification process, which "could make him smell even more", nutrition expert JJ Virgin told NBC News, although the diminished mucus production levels could be true.

 

The Lisa mystery

The Lisa, a personal computer designed by Apple during the 1980s, was named after Jobs' then-estranged daughter, Lisa Nicole Brennan, whose paternity Jobs denied for years, claiming he was sterile.

Although Jobs eventually confirmed the source of the PC's name to his biographer - "Obviously it was named [after] my daughter," he said - Apple's marketing team initially reverse engineered an acronym to fit the computer's name, saying it stood for Local Integrated System Architecture.

Privately, some software developers used Lisa: Invented Stupid Acronym while computer industry pundits jokingly referred to it as Let's Invent Some Acronym.

 

The lowest salary at Apple

Jobs had an annual salary of $1.00 for over a decade. This isn't unheard of in the CEO world: Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have all followed suit with a $1-a-year salary.

With 5.5 million shares in Apple stock valued around $377 each in 2011, it's safe to say he probably wasn't missing the salary too much. Jobs joked in 2007: "I get 50 cents a year for showing up, and the other 50 cents is based on my performance."

 

Exactly the right shade of yellow

Jobs once called Vic Gundotra, Google's Senior Vice President of Engineering, on a Sunday while he was at a religious service. The urgent issue? "I've been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I'm not happy with the icon," Jobs said. "The second O in 'Google' doesn’t have the right yellow gradient. It's just wrong and I’m going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?"

Jobs then sent him a follow-up email with the subject line "Icon Ambulance".

Gundotra recalled this story fondly in 2011 when it had just been announced that Jobs was resigning as Apple's CEO, praising Jobs' attention to detail. "It was a lesson I'll never forget," he wrote. "CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday." Check out the icon in question to the right.

 

Who needs money?

Although he is known for being extremely detailed-oriented (see the last story), Jobs seemed to not sweat the big stuff so much, including personal money problems.

His first girlfriend (and the mother of Lisa), Chrisann Brennan, wrote in Rolling Stone: "We had very little money and no foreseeable prospects. One evening after we had splurged on dinner and a movie, we walked back to our car to discover a $25 parking ticket. I just turned inside out with despair, but Steve did not seem to care. He had a deep well of patience when it came to discouragements.

"We drove to the ocean near Crissy Field in San Francisco and walked out onto the beach to see the sunset, where I began talking about money worries. He gave me a long, exasperated look, reached into his pockets and took the few last coins and dollars we had and threw them into the ocean. All of them."

 

The importance of good design

In 2009, Jobs was recovering from a liver transplant and pneumonia. According to his biography, the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated. Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design of the mask and refused to wear it.

Although barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring him five different options for the mask so that he could pick a design he liked.

 

The great persuader

When Jobs was in eighth grade (Year 9 in UK terms), Jobs decided to build a frequency counter for a school project and needed parts. Someone suggested that he up call Bill Hewlett, HP's cofounder.

After finding a William Hewlett in the telephone book, Jobs called and asked, "Is this the Bill Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard?" Several days later, Jobs went to HP and picked up a bag full of parts that Hewlett had put together for him. He was then offered an internship for that summer. He was 12 years old.

 

Curiouser and curiouser

In 1972, Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (affectionately referred to as Woz) took $3/hr jobs at the Westgate Mall in San Jose, California, where they had to dress up as Alice in Wonderland characters.

 

Poor Woz

Back when he worked at Atari, Jobs gipped Woz out of a big bonus.

Jobs was reportedly offered $750 for his development work on the popular game Break-Out, with the possibility of an extra $100 for each chip eliminated from the game's final design. He recruited Woz help him with the challenge. Together, they managed to whittle the prototype's design down so much that Atari paid out a $5,000 bonus - but Jobs kept the bonus for himself, and paid his unsuspecting friend only $375, according to Woz's own autobiography.

 

Appetite for destruction

The Mac team's building in 1982 had a security system that would arm itself at 5:30PM, far too early for programmers who tended to come back to work after dinner. It went off nearly every day.

Finally, Jobs yelled for someone to destroy it. Andy Hertzfeld drove a screwdriver into the alarm and when a security guard showed up and yelled at them, Jobs took responsibility for the destruction - obviously, he didn't get in trouble.

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