10 Amazing Facts about Famous People in Tech (that You Can Use in a Conversation)
Article by George Norman
On 10 Apr 2017
I don’t know when, but you’ll find yourself in a social setting one day and you won’t know what to talk about. Bringing up fun facts about famous people might seem like an interesting choice, until you realize that your knowledge of pop culture is as fresh as that sock you forgot in your gym bag. Bringing up technology might also seem like an interesting choice, until you realize that people are nodding politely and very slowly moving away from you.

What if you were to combine the two? I think that you could make your small talk more interesting by bringing up fun facts about famous people from the tech world. You’ll come off as smart and you won’t bore anyone by talking too much about technology.

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1. Steve Jobs had weird eating habits (and he stank)



The late Steve Jobs dabbled with fruitarianism, a form of veganism where you could only eat fruit, nuts or seeds, and he would occasionally fixate on just one or two foods, eating nothing but apples or carrots for weeks at a time.

Jobs believed that by following a vegan diet his body would be flushed of mucus and that, in return, meant that he would be free body odor. And with BO gone, he wouldn’t need to shower regularly or wear deodorant. Unfortunately for Jobs, that wasn’t the case. And because he literally stank, he was put on the night shift when he worked at game-maker Atari.


2. Tim Cook is rough with subordinates (just like Steve Jobs was)



Tim Cook has a lot in common with the late Steve Jobs: he has the same rare blood type, he shares the same fondness for the rock-and-roll greats of the 1960s, and he’s just as rough on the staff as Jobs was.

He reportedly told a planner once that "your numbers make me want to jump out that window over there." And during a meeting over a problem in Asia, Cook said offhand that someone should go there to deal with the situation; half an hour later he turned to one of the execs in the room and said "why are you still here?" The exec left immediately for China, without as much as a packing bag.


3. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard (got a degree anyway)



A lot of big names from the tech world dropped out of college to pursue their dream. Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College after just one semester, and Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard after 3 years. The weird thing is that Gates took enough courses to graduate, but Paul Allen convinced him to drop out and start their own computer software company.

What you probably don’t know is that Gates didn’t drop out of college just like that. He talked about it with his parents and they supported his decision. Gates once explained that if things didn’t work out, he could always go back to school and finish his studies.

Here’s one other thing that you might not know. In 2007, Bill Gates received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University. So even though he dropped out, Bill Gates does indeed have a degree from the prestigious university.


4. Jennifer Aniston did a video guide for Windows (and it’s very corny)



You know Jennifer Aniston from the beloved TV series Friends and from her roles in more recent movies such as We’re the Millers or Horrible Bosses 1 and 2.

But did you know that back in the 90s, Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry did a lengthy video guide for what was at the time the "revolutionary" Windows 95? Packed with 90s cheesiness, corny jokes, and awful acting… its actually quite fun in a cringe-inducing kind of way.

As you can see here, Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry aren’t the only ones who used their popularity to endorse technology. Speaking of which...


5. The Rock introduced the first Xbox (in a surprise appearance)



At CES 2001, after delivering his keynote address, Bill Gates presented the Xbox console - the first, the original Xbox.

Guess who showed up to help promote the device. None other than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.


6. Zuckerberg is unblockable on Facebook (and doesn’t own a TV)



When one of your Facebook friends is mildly annoying, you can unfollow him and stop getting any of his posts on your news feed. If that friend is more than mildly annoying, you can unfriend him. And if things hit max value on the annoyance meter, you can block him.

That’s not something you can do with Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of the hugely popular social networking website. Zuckerberg’s profile is unblockable, meaning you literally can’t block Zuckerberg on Facebook.

Here are a few other interesting things you might want to know about Zuckerberg: he doesn’t own a TV, he doesn’t like to speak in public, his salary as Facebook CEO is just $1, he dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year, the name he initially picked for Facebook was Facemash, and he is red-green color blind. If you ever wondered why Facebook’s color scheme is mostly blue, it is because of Zuckerberg’s red-green color blindness.


7. Daniel Ek misheard a suggestion (and Spotify was born)



Spotify founders Daniel EK and Martin Lorentzon were brainstorming and trying to find a name for the music streaming service. Because they were in different rooms, they were shouting ideas back and forth. During all this shouting, Daniel misheard a name suggested by Martin, and that’s how Spotify got its name.

When Spotify’s popularity increased, the two founders felt embarrassed about this origin story, so they came up with a new one, saying that the name Spotify is a blend between "spot" and "identify."


8. Gabe Newell worked for Microsoft (like a lot)



Gabe Newell, the co-founder and managing director of Valve, the company behind the Steam digital distribution platform, dropped out of Harvard, just like Bill Gates did. Ironically enough, Newel spent the next 13 years working for Microsoft and helping with the development of Windows 1.01, Windows 1.02 and Windows 1.03. Newell left Microsoft in 1996 and founded Valve with another Microsoft employee, Mike Harrington.


9. Jimmy Wales edited his own Wikipedia bio (tried to cut out Larry Sanger)



Wikipedia was created by two people: Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Back in 2005, Wales edited his own Wikipedia bio, deleting parts which presented Larry Sanger as a co-founder of the site. When confronted, Wales said the edits were made to correct factual errors and provide a more rounded version of events.

Sanger left Wikipedia in 2007 and started Citizendium, “a wiki for providing free knowledge where authors use their real, verified names.” The Citizendium online encyclopedia has some 17,000 articles at the time of writing this.


10. Satya Nadella can fix your toaster (probably)



Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering which he got in 1988 from Mangalore University in India. After moving to the US, Nadella got a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.

Here are a few other interesting things you might want to know about Satya Nadella: his name means "truth," he’s been with Microsoft for more than 20 years, he really likes to read, he’s a Seahawks fan, and he’s got more than a million Twitter followers.




Tags: Apple, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Satya Nadella, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Daniel Ek, Spotify, Gabe Newell, Valve, Steam, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia,
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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