Yesterday marked a sad day for millions of people the world around, as Apple founder and business visionary Steve Jobs passed away following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
In honor of his memory and legacy, we are offering a reflection back on his long and storied career. During a nearly forty-year career in Silicon Valley, Jobs revolutionized entire industries and stuck to his vision for a better world.
Starting in 1976, Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Inc., a company that was focused on personal computing. Due to Jobs’ forward thinking he saw the massive potential for a graphical computer interface. He is also the reason we all use a mouse and “click” to get things done on any computer.
Along with high school friend Wozniak, Jobs worked as a student trainee at Hewlett-Packard. Jobs briefly attended Reed College, but dropped out and ended up auditing a few classes, one of which, calligraphy, inspired him while creating the Mac. However, in 1974 Jobs and Wozniak attend meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club.
Revolution in a Box
From this partnership came the very first Apple computer, initially only available in Bay Area stores at a cost of $666.66. This “computer” consisted of a pair of printed circuit boards, various parts and a 16-page manual. In order to use the computer, the user had to have access to a power supply, keyboard and monitor.
The astute and determined leader
His technical mastery was only surpassed by his entrepreneurial vision. He was notoriously stubborn, and had an unshakeable faith in his vision, which led to many internal disputes with colleagues and pegged him as a firm and picky businessman.
In 1983, Jobs hired PepsiCo President John Sculley (pictured in the center) to run Apple. However, this decision proved unfortunate, and caused a sharp market decline by Apple, which lead to a halting of production and a complete review of the company’s marketing and production strategies. By 1985, Jobs was ousted from the company, even though he was one of the founders.
The next big move
Despite Jobs’ firing he gained tremendous momentum and forged on with his personal computing vision. His following venture would be NeXT Computer, where he built an elegant PC in black alloy, with an advanced graphical interface, Ethernet port and other technological advancements. The computer was too expensive for the average consumer but his invention was a huge step forward for PCs.
Redemption: Return to Apple
Without Jobs Apple floundered and nearly went bankrupt in the mid 90s. In 1996 Apple purchased NeXT Computer for $429 million, thereby bringing Jobs back into the fold. By 1998, Jobs was awarded the CEO position.
Jobs immediate impact
Many of the NeXT Computer innovations were applied to the next generation of Apple computers. In addition, a series of innovative new products and services, such as the iMac and Apple retail stores were unveiled.
Aside from Jobs’ successes at Apple his animation company Pixar produced the hit 1995 movie “Toy Story,” which amassed an impressive $360 million and turned Pixar into one of the largest Hollywood studios. Since then, the studio has put out a variety of successful films, including Finding Nemo, Cars, Wall-E and Up. In 2006, Disney purchased Pixar for a whopping $7.4 billion, of which Jobs owned a big chunk of shares.
Rock and roll time
In 2001 Apple released the revolutionary and stylish iPod, which Jobs rightly predicted would completely change the way people listen to music. In addition, iTunes is launched, which turns the music industry upside down. In the above 2004 picture rock group U2 participated in the unveiling of their own unique iPod for their album release.
In 2007, Jobs does it again by revealing the world changing iPhone, which revolutionizes the way people interact with their phones. More than 6 million copies were sold after its release, making it one of the most popular phones on the market. Not only can users make phone calls with the iPhone, but they can also access the Internet, use applications and all with the touch or swipe of a finger. The iPhone also creates an entirely new industry, cell phone app development.
The tablet arrives
In January of 2010 Jobs announces that Apple will be introducing a new kind of computer, which ends up being the iPad. This device proves to be another computing revolution, with a touch screen that enables users to read books, play games, watch videos, access the Internet and much more.
In business and in terms of technology Jobs liked to follow the motto of famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky, “skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been.” Jobs was certainly several steps ahead of everyone else, and the world is a better place for it.
Steve Jobs’ empty chair at the last Apple Keynote speech