he Jobses’ house and the others in their neighborhood were built

he Jobses’ house and the others in their neighborhood were built by the real estate developer Joseph Eichler, whose company spawned more than eleven thousand homes in various California subdivisions between 1950 and 1974. Inspired by Frank

 

Lloyd Wright’s vision of simple modern homes for the American “everyman,” Eichler built inexpensive houses that featured floor-to-ceiling glass walls, open floor plans, exposed post-and-beam construction, concrete slab floors, and lots of sliding glass doors. “Eichler did a great thing,” Jobs said on one of our walks around the

neighborhood. “His houses were smart and cheap and good. They brought clean design and simple taste to lower-income people. They had awesome little features, like radiant heating in the floors. You put carpet on them, and we had nice toasty floors when we were kids.”

Jobs said that his appreciation for Eichler homes instilled in him a passion for making nicely designed products for the mass market. “I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost much,” he

said as he pointed out the clean elegance of the houses. “It was the original vision for Apple. That’s what we tried to do with the first Mac. That’s what we did with the iPod.”

Across the street from the Jobs family lived a man who had become successful as a real estate agent. “He wasn’t that bright,” Jobs recalled, “but he seemed to be making a fortune. So my dad thought, ‘I can do that.’ He worked so hard, I

remember. He took these night classes, passed the license test, and got into real estate. Then the bottom fell out of the market.” As a result, the family found itself financially strapped for a year or so while Steve was in elementary school. His

mother took a job as a bookkeeper for Varian Associates, a company that made scientific instruments, and they took out a second mortgage. One day his fourth-grade teacher asked him, “What is it you don’t understand about the universe?” Jobs replied, “I don’t understand why all of a sudden my dad is so broke.” He was proud

that his father never adopted a servile attitude or slick style that may have made him a better salesman. “You had to suck up to people to sell real estate, and he wasn’t

good at that and it wasn’

t in his nature. I admired him

for that.” Paul Jobs went

back to being a mechanic.

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