No one had ever created a digital version of a

No one had ever created a digital version of a Blue Box, but

Woz was made for the challenge. Using diodes and transistors

from Radio Shack, and with the help of a music student in his

dorm who had perfect pitch, he got it built before Thanksgiving.

“I have never designed a circuit I was prouder of,” he said. “I still think it was incredible.”

One night Wozniak drove down from Berkeley to Jobs’s house

to try it. They attempted to call Wozniak’s uncle in Los Angeles,


but they got a wrong number. It didn’t matter; their device had

worked. “Hi! We’re calling you for free! We’re calling you for free!”

Wozniak shouted. The person on the other end was confused and annoyed. Jobs chimed in,

“We’re calling from California! From California! With a Blue Box.” This probably

baffled the man even more, since he was also in California.

At first the Blue Box was used for fun and pranks. The most daring of these was

when they called the Vatican and Wozniak pretended to be Henry Kissinger

wanting to speak to the pope. “Ve are at de summit meeting in Moscow,

and ve need to talk to de pope,” Woz intoned. He was told that it was 5:30 a.m. and

the pope was sleeping. When he called back, he got a bishop who was supposed

to serve as the translator. But they never actually got the pope on the line.

“They realized that Woz wasn’t Henry Kissinger,” Jobs recalled. “We were at a public phone booth.”

It was then that they reached an important milestone, one that would

establish a pattern in their partnerships: Jobs came up with the idea that

the Blue Box could be more than merely a hobby; they could build and sell them.

“I got together the rest of the components, like the casing and power supply and

keypads, and figured out how we could price it,” Jobs said, foreshadowing roles he

would play when they founded Apple. The finished product was about the size of two

decks of playing cards.

The parts cost about $40,

and Jobs decided they

should sell it for $150.

A hero of the piece was John Draper, a hacker known as

A hero of the piece was John Draper, a hacker known as Captain Crunch because he had discovered

that the sound emitted by the toy whistle that came with the breakfast cereal was the same 2600

Hertz tone used by the phone network’s call-routing switches. It could fool the system into allowing

a long-distance call to go through without extra charges. The article revealed that other tones that


served to route calls could be found in an issue of the Bell System Technical Journal, which AT&T

immediately began asking libraries to pull from their shelves.

As soon as Jobs got the call from Wozniak that Sunday afternoon, he knew they would have to get


their hands on the technical journal right away. “Woz picked me up a few minutes later, and we went

to the library at SLAC [the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center] to see if we could find it,” Jobs recounted.

It was Sunday and the library was closed, but they knew how to get in through a door that was rarely locked.

“I remember that we were furiously digging through the stacks, and it was Woz who finally found the journal

with all the frequencies. It was like, holy shit, and we opened it and there it was. We kept saying to ourselves,

‘It’s real. Holy shit, it’s real.’ It was all laid out—the tones, the frequencies.”

Wozniak went to Sunnyvale Electronics before it closed that evening and bought the parts to make

an analog tone generator. Jobs had built a frequency counter when he was part of the HP Explorers

Club, and they used it to calibrate the desired tones. With a dial, they could replicate and tape-record

the sounds specified in the article. By midnight they were ready to test it. Unfortunately the oscillators

they used were not quite stable enough to replicate the right chirps to fool the phone company.

“We could see the instability using Steve’s frequency counter,” recalled Wozniak, “and we just

couldn’t make it work. I had to leave for Berkeley

the next morning, so we

decided I would work

on building a digital

version once I got there.”

Jobs decided to move back to his parents’ home

In February 1974, after eighteen months of hanging around Reed,

Jobs decided to move back to his parents’ home in Los Altos and look

for a job. It was not a difficult search. At peak times during the 1970s,


the classified section of the San Jose Mercury carried up to sixty pages

of technology help-wanted ads. One of those caught Jobs’s eye.

“Have fun, make money,” it said. That day Jobs walked into the lobby


of the video game manufacturer Atari and told the personnel director,

who was startled by his unkempt hair and attire, that he

wouldn’t leave until they gave him a job.

Atari’s founder was a burly entrepreneur named Nolan Bushnell,

who was a charismatic visionary with a nice touch of showmanship

in him—in other words, another role model waiting to be emulated.

After he became famous, he liked driving around in a Rolls, smoking dope,

and holding staff meetings in a hot tub. As Friedland had done and as Jobs

would learn to do, he was able to turn charm into a cunning force, to cajole

and intimidate and distort reality with the power of his personality.

His chief engineer was Al Alcorn, beefy and jovial and a bit more grounded,

the house grown-up trying to implement the vision and curb the enthusiasms

of Bushnell. Their big hit thus far was a video game called Pong, in which two

players tried to volley a blip on a screen with two movable lines that acted as

paddles. (If you’re under thirty, ask your parents.)

When Jobs arrived in the Atari lobby wearing sandals and demanding a job,

Alcorn was the one who was summoned. “I was told, ‘We’ve got a hippie

kid in the lobby.

He says he’s not going to leave until

we hire him. Should we call

the cops or let him in?’

I said bring him on in!”

Following the lead of other phone phreaks such as

Following the lead of other phone phreaks such as Captain Crunch,

they gave themselves handles. Wozniak became “Berkeley Blue,”

Jobs was “Oaf Tobark.” They took the device to college dorms and

gave demonstrations by attaching it to a phone and speaker. While the


potential customers watched, they would call the Ritz in London or a dial-a-joke service in Australia.

“We made a hundred or so Blue Boxes and sold almost all of them,” Jobs recalled.


The fun and profits came to an end at a Sunnyvale pizza parlor. Jobs and Wozniak

were about to drive to Berkeley with a Blue Box they had just finished making. Jobs

needed money and was eager to sell, so he pitched the device to some guys at the next table.

They were interested, so Jobs went to a phone booth and demonstrated it with a call to Chicago.

The prospects said they had to go to their car for money. “So we walk over to the car, Woz and me,

and I’ve got the Blue Box in my hand, and the guy gets in, reaches under the seat, and he pulls out a gun,”

Jobs recounted. He had never been that close to a gun, and he was terrified. “So he’s pointing the gun right at

my stomach, and he says, ‘Hand it over, brother.’ My mind raced. There was the car door here, and I thought

maybe I could slam it on his legs and we could run, but there was this high probability that he would shoot me.

So I slowly handed it to him, very carefully.” It was a weird sort of robbery. The guy who took the Blue

Box actually gave Jobs a phone number and said he would try to pay for it if it worked. When Jobs later called

the number, the guy said he couldn’t figure out how to use it. So Jobs, in his felicitous way, convinced the guy

to meet him and Wozniak at a public place. But they ended up deciding not to have another encounter with

the gunman, even on the off chance they could get their $150.

The partnership paved the way for what would be a bigger adventure together. “If it hadn’t been for the

Blue Boxes, there wouldn’t have been an Apple,” Jobs later reflected. “I’m 100% sure of that. Woz and

I learned how to work together, and we gained the confidence that we could solve technical problems and

partnership that would soon be born. Wozniak would be the gentle wizard coming up with a neat invention

that he would have been happy just to give away, and Jobs would figure out how to

make it user-friendly,

put it together

in a package, market it,

and make a few bucks.

Jobs thus became one of the first fifty employees at Atari

Jobs thus became one of the first fifty employees at Atari,

working as a technician for $5 an hour. “In retrospect,

it was weird to hire a dropout from Reed,” Alcorn recalled.


“But I saw something in him. He was very intelligent, enthusiastic,

excited about tech.” Alcorn assigned him to work with a straitlaced

engineer named Don Lang. The next day Lang complained,


“This guy’s a goddamn hippie with b.o. Why did you do this to me?

And he’s impossible to deal with.” Jobs clung to the belief that his fruit-heavy

vegetarian diet would prevent not just mucus but also body odor,

even if he didn’t use deodorant or shower regularly. It was a flawed theory.

Lang and others wanted to let Jobs go, but Bushnell worked out a solution.

“The smell and behavior wasn’t an issue with me,” he said. “Steve was prickly,

but I kind of liked him. So I asked him to go on the night shift. It was a way

to save him.” Jobs would come in after Lang and others had left and work through most

of the night. Even thus isolated, he became known for his brashness.

On those occasions when he happened to interact with others, he was prone

to informing them that they were “dumb shits.” In retrospect, he stands

by that judgment. “The only reason I shone was that everyone else was so bad,” Jobs recalled.

Despite his arrogance (or perhaps because of it) he was able to charm Atari’s boss.

“He was more philosophical than the other people I worked with,” Bushnell recalled.

“We used to discuss free will versus determinism. I tended to believe that things

were much more determined, that we were programmed. If we had perfect information,

we could predict people’s actions. Steve felt the opposite.” That outlook accorded

with his faith in the power of the will to bend reality.

Jobs helped improve some of the games by pushing the chips to produce fun designs,

and Bushnell’s inspiring willingness to play by his own rules rubbed off on him.

In addition, he intuitively appreciated the simplicity of Atari’s games. They came

with no manual and needed to be uncomplicated enough that a stoned freshman could

figure them out. The only

instructions for Atari’s Star

Trek game were “1. Insert

quarter. 2. Avoid Klingons.”

When he got off the plane in New Delhi, he felt waves

When he got off the plane in New Delhi, he felt waves

of heat rising from the tarmac, even though it was only

April. He had been given the name of a hotel, but it was full,

so he went to one his taxi driver insisted was good. “I’m sure he


was getting some baksheesh, because he took me to this complete dive.”

Jobs asked the owner whether the water was filtered and foolishly

believed the answer. “I got dysentery pretty fast. I was sick, really


sick, a really high fever. I dropped from 160 pounds to 120 in about a week.”

Once he got healthy enough to move, he decided that he needed to get out

of Delhi. So he headed to the town of Haridwar, in western India near the

source of the Ganges, which was having a festival known as the Kumbh Mela.

More than ten million people poured into a town that usually contained fewer

than 100,000 residents. “There were holy men all around. Tents with this teacher

and that teacher. There were people riding elephants, you name it. I was there

for a few days, but I decided that I needed to get out of there too.”

He went by train and bus to a village near Nainital in the foothills of the Himalayas.

That was where Neem Karoli Baba lived, or had lived. By the time Jobs got there,

he was no longer alive, at least in the same incarnation. Jobs rented a room with a

mattress on the floor from a family who helped him recuperate by feeding him

vegetarian meals. “There was a copy there of Autobiography of a Yogi in English that

a previous traveler had left, and I read it several times because there was not a lot to do,

and I walked around from village to village and recovered from my dysentery.”

Among those who were part of the community there was Larry Brilliant, an

epidemiologist who was working to eradicate smallpox and who

later ran Google’s

philanthropic arm and the Skoll

Foundation. He became

Jobs’s lifelong friend.

When Jobs told the folks at Atari that he was quitting

When Jobs told the folks at Atari that he was quitting

to go search for a guru in India, the jovial Alcorn was amused.

“He comes in and stares at me and declares, ‘I’m going to find my guru,’


and I say, ‘No shit, that’s super. Write me!’ And he says he wants me to

help pay, and I tell him, ‘Bullshit!’” Then Alcorn had an idea. Atari was


making kits and shipping them to Munich, where they were built into

finished machines and distributed by a wholesaler in Turin. But there was

a problem: Because the games were designed for the American rate of sixty

frames per second, there were frustrating interference problems in Europe,

where the rate was fifty frames per second. Alcorn sketched out a fix with Jobs

and then offered to pay for him to go to Europe to implement it. “It’s got to be

cheaper to get to India from there,” he said. Jobs agreed. So Alcorn sent him on his

way with the exhortation, “Say hi to your guru for me.”

Jobs spent a few days in Munich, where he solved the interference problem,

but in the process he flummoxed the dark-suited German managers. They

complained to Alcorn that he dressed and smelled like a bum and behaved rudely.

“I said, ‘Did he solve the problem?’ And they said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘If you got any more

problems, you just call me, I got more guys just like him!’ They said,

‘No, no we’ll take care of it next time.’” For his part, Jobs was upset that the

Germans kept trying to feed him meat and potatoes. “They don’t even have a word for

vegetarian,” he complained (incorrectly) in a phone call to Alcorn.

He had a better time when he took the train to see the distributor in Turin,

where the Italian pastas and his host’s camaraderie were more simpatico. “

I had a wonderful couple of weeks in Turin, which is this charged-up industrial town,”

he recalled. “The distributor took me every night to dinner at this place where there

were only eight tables and no menu. You’d just tell them what you wanted, and they made it.

One of the tables was on reserve for the chairman of Fiat. It was really super.” He next

went to Lugano, Switzerland,

where he stayed with

Friedland’s uncle, and from

there took a flight to India.

Not all of his coworkers shunned Jobs. He became

Not all of his coworkers shunned Jobs. He became

friends with Ron Wayne, a draftsman at Atari, who

had earlier started a company that built slot machines.


It subsequently failed, but Jobs became fascinated with

the idea that it was possible to start your own company.


“Ron was an amazing guy,” said Jobs. “He started companies.

I had never met anybody like that.” He proposed to Wayne

that they go into business together; Jobs said he could borrow

$50,000, and they could design and market a slot machine.

But Wayne had already been burned in business, so he declined.

“I said that was the quickest way to lose $50,000,” Wayne recalled,

“but I admired the fact that he had a burning drive to start his own business.”

One weekend Jobs was visiting Wayne at his apartment, engaging as they

often did in philosophical discussions, when Wayne said that there was

something he needed to tell him. “Yeah, I think I know what it is,”

Jobs replied. “I think you like men.” Wayne said yes. “It was my

first encounter with someone who I knew was gay,” Jobs recalled.

“He planted the right perspective of it for me.” Jobs grilled him:

“When you see a beautiful woman, what do you feel?” Wayne replied,

“It’s like when you look at a beautiful horse. You can appreciate it, but you

don’t want to sleep with it. You appreciate beauty for what it is.”

Wayne said that it is a testament to Jobs that he felt like revealing this to

him. “Nobody at Atari knew, and I could count on my toes and fingers

the number of people I told in my whole life. But I guess it just felt right to

tell him, that he would understand, and it didn’t have any effect on our relationship.”


One reason Jobs was eager to make some money in early 1974 was that

Robert Friedland, who had gone to India the summer before, was urging

him to take his own spiritual journey there. Friedland had studied in India with

Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji), who had been the guru to much of the sixties

hippie movement. Jobs decided he should do the same, and he recruited

Daniel Kottke to go with him. Jobs was not motivated by mere adventure.

“For me it was a serious search,” he said. “I’d been turned on to the idea of

enlightenment and trying to figure out who I was and how I fit into things.”

Kottke adds that Jobs’s quest seemed

driven partly by not

knowing his birth parents.

“There was a hole in him,

and he was trying to fill it.”

At one point Jobs was told of a young Hindu holy man

At one point Jobs was told of a young Hindu holy man

who was holding a gathering of his followers at the

Himalayan estate of a wealthy businessman. “It was a chance to

meet a spiritual being and hang out with his followers, but it was also

a chance to have a good meal. I could smell the food as we got near,


and I was very hungry.” As Jobs was eating, the holy man—who was

not much older than Jobs—picked him out of the crowd, pointed at him,

and began laughing maniacally. “He came running over and grabbed me

and made a tooting sound and said, ‘You are just like a baby,’” recalled Jobs.

“I was not relishing this attention.” Taking Jobs by the hand, he led him

out of the worshipful crowd and walked him up to a hill, where there was

a well and a small pond. “We sit down and he pulls out this straight razor.

I’m thinking he’s a nutcase and begin to worry. Then he pulls out a bar

of soap—I had long hair at the time—and he lathered up my hair and shaved

my head. He told me that he was saving my health.”

Daniel Kottke arrived in India at the beginning of the summer, and Jobs

went back to New Delhi to meet him. They wandered, mainly by bus, rather

aimlessly. By this point Jobs was no longer trying to find a guru who could impart

wisdom, but instead was seeking enlightenment through ascetic experience,

deprivation, and simplicity. He was not able to achieve inner calm.

Kottke remembers him getting into a furious shouting match with a

Hindu woman in a village marketplace who, Jobs alleged, had been

watering down the milk she was selling them.

Yet Jobs could also be generous. When they got to the town of Manali,

Kottke’s sleeping bag was stolen with his traveler’s checks in it.

“Steve covered my food expenses and bus ticket back to

Delhi,” Kottke recalled.

He also gave Kottke

the rest of his own money,

$100, to tide him over.

During his seven months in India, he had written to his

During his seven months in India, he had written to his parents onlysporadically, getting mail at the American Express office in

New Delhi when he passed through, and so they were somewhatsurprised when they got a call from the Oakland airport asking them


to pick him up. They immediately drove up from Los Altos. “

My head had been shaved, I was wearing Indian cotton robes,

and my skin had turned a deep, chocolate brown-red from the sun,”

he recalled. “So I’m sitting there and my parents walked past me about

five times and finally my mother came up and said ‘Steve?’ and I said ‘Hi!’”

They took him back home, where he continued trying to find himself.

It was a pursuit with many paths toward enlightenment. In the mornings

and evenings he would meditate and study Zen, and in between he would

drop in to audit physics or engineering courses at Stanford.

The Search

Jobs’s interest in Eastern spirituality, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism,

and the search for enlightenment was not merely the passing phase

of a nineteen-year-old. Throughout his life he would seek to follow

many of the basic precepts of Eastern religions, such as the emphasis

on experiential praj?ā, wisdom or cognitive understanding that is intuitively

experienced through concentration of the mind. Years later, sitting in his

Palo Alto garden, he reflected on the lasting influence of his trip to India:

Coming back to America was, for me, much more of a cultural shock than

going to India. The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect

like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more

developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing,

more powerful

than intellect, in my

opinion. That’s had

a big impact on my work.