Steven Paul Jobs, the co-founder and chairman of Apple,died Wednesday at the age of 56.
Born in San Francisco in 1955, Jobs grew up near Cupertino, Calif. After attending Reed College in Portland for one semester (and auditing classes for free for several more), Jobs took a job at Atari, designing circuit boards. In 1976, Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak.
The two young men started out with a few thousand dollars in cash and a vision of changing the world. Over the course of the past 35 years, the company and Jobs have gone on to change the world, the personal computing industry, the music and film industries and the mobile industry as we know.
Apple released its first mass-market product, the Apple II in 1976. The Apple II helped ignite what would become known as “the personal computer revolution” and thrust the charismatic Jobs into the spotlight. By the time IBM released its first PC in 1981 and Commodore released the Commodore 64 in 1982, Apple was already hard at work on the product that would cement Apple’s place in computing history, the Macintosh.
Brazenly introduced to the world in 1984 via a Super Bowl ad directed by Ridley Scott, the Macintosh helped set the standard for personal computing paradigms for the next decade.
Pixar, NeXT and Beyond
Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985 over disagreements concerning vision, style and attitude. At the time, Jobs was written off by many in the business and industry press as a flash in the pan. It was Wozniak, not Jobs, they said, that was the real innovator at Apple.
In the decade that followed, Jobs was out of the limelight. Bill Gates became the face of the industry and the tech story of the 1990s was the rise of Microsoft. It was Microsoft, not Apple, that would topple IBM.
After leaving Apple in 1985, Jobs and some of his Apple founded NeXT with a cadre of Apple alumni. NeXT was well-financed and its software and hardware were top notch. Still, the products failed to make an impact on the industry.
Jobs’s real success in the first half of the 1990s wasn’t in the computer industry, but in the film industry. Pixar, a small animation studio Jobs acquired in 1986, went from obscurity to industry game-changer after the release of 1995′s Toy Story. It was Pixar, not Apple — and not NeXT — that made Jobs a very rich man.
In late 1996, Jobs approached Apple to discuss his former company acquiring NeXT. Apple needed an operating system, NeXT had one, NeXTSTEP.
Within a few months of rejoining Apple, Jobs took over as interim CEO. It was at this point that the modern Jobs legacy began to take shape.
From 1997 until August 2011, Jobs was Apple’s CEO, presiding over what can only be described as thegreatest second and third acts in business history. Under his tutelage as CEO, Apple not only returned from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability, but products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad have single-handedly changed the consumer electronics and personal computing landscape.
In August 2004, Jobs revealed that he had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas. Jobs took a one month leave of absence to recover from surgery and returned to work in September 2004.
For the next seven years, Jobs would dodge rumors about his health. In June 2008, Jobs’s gaunt appearance at WWDC raised questions about his health. In January 2009, Jobs took a six-month leave of absence from Apple, to address “a hormone deficiency.” It was later revealed that Jobs had a liver transplant in April 2009. He returned to work in June 2009.
Jobs would continue to serve as Apple’s CEO until January 2011, when he took a medical leave of absence “to focus on his health.”
Jobs is survived by his wife Laurene and his family.
Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh to the world. Computing would never be the same.
When Bill Gates appeared on-screen at Macworld Boston in 1997, the audience reacted with boos and hisses. Still, the decision to partner with Microsoft and have Microsoft commit to producing software for the Macintosh was one of the most shrewd — and likely one of the most intelligent — decisions that Jobs made upon his return to Apple.
Although many incorrectly believe that Microsoft “bought” Apple in 1997, the reality is, without Microsoft’s investment and commitment to developing Macintosh software, the company may have had a more difficult time getting its next line of products to the market.
The iMac helped set the standard for the modern Apple even as we know it today. Designed by Jonathan Ive, the iMac was sleek, modern and affordable. This was not the Macintosh of the early to mid 1990s, it was something new.
With the iMac, Apple became cool. We can vividly remember looking at the egg-shaped all-in-one design with the hockey puck mouse and famous lack of a floppy drive and being transfixed. The iMac marked the beginning of Apple 2.0.
Nearly 10 years ago, Apple debuted the iPod. Famously ridiculed and dismissed by Slashdot, it would be several years before the device would become iconic, and in the process, change Apple fundamentally as a company.
The premise behind the iPod was simple: 1,000 songs in your pocket. Its the execution that set the device apart from everyone else.
In 2003, Apple flipped the switch again, with the launch of the iTunes Music Store. In a post-Napster industry, most were skeptical that iTunes could drive music sales. Eight years later, iTunes is the number one music retailer by a large margin.
Ten years on, the iPod is getting long in the tooth, but it still remains the leader in its product category.
After the iPod started to achieve massive success in 2003 and 2004, the rumors of an iPod phone started to swirl.
The first attempt to bring a product like that to the market was in the form of Motorola’s Rokr. The Rokr tried to capitalize on the success of the Razr, while also adding compatibility with iTunes.
Still, the device was a dud. You can see Steve Jobs’s frustration with the device in this demonstration. The Rokr was an example that only Apple could build an Apple product.
Steve Jobs’s commencement speech at Stanford University in 2006 is one of our favorite Jobs moments. It’s riveting, inspirational and every bit as good as any Apple product keynote.
All hail the Jesus Phone. The iPhone changed the mobile industry. Full stop. The mobile world and ecosystem that we know today would not exist in the same way that it does now without the iPhone.
The iPhone also changed Apple as a company and helped further cement Jobs’s place in history.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are two of the most powerful and influential men of our times. Seeing them together at D5, just ahead of the iPhone’s U.S. launch, was amazing.
In January 2010, Apple changed the game again with the iPad. Like the iPod and iPhone, the critics dismissed it and predicted its failure. Its success has outpaced nearly every other technology product launch in history and is having a seismic impact on education, publishing, media consumption and computing in general.
The PC era might not be over, but I’m willing to bet that the computer I use every day in 10 years will have a lot more in common with the iPad than the MacBook Pro.