Today marks the death of Steven Paul Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and former CEO of Apple Inc. Jobs was hailed as a visionary inventor and entrepreneur with his momentous impact on technology and what it has become today. He had a sense of charisma that could sell anything to anyone, envisioned products years ahead of our desire for them, and utter dedication to how people think, touch, feel, and interact with machines dictated even the smallest detail of the computers Apple builds.
Jobs was born in San Francisco on Feb. 24, 1955, he was a techie from a young age, often sitting in on lectures at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, eventually landing a summer job working alongside Steve Wozniak. Jobs enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Ore. In 1972, but dropped out after six months – he later said that “he didn’t see the value in it.” He eventually returned home to California, got a job at Atari, renewed his friendship with Wozniak, and started hanging out with the Homebrew Computer Club.
Jobs and Woz launched Apple in 1976. Their first project, the Apple I, a simple assembled circuit board, keyboard, and case sold separately. It proved valuable enough to convince Mike Markkula, a semi-retired Intel engineer and product marketing manager, that personal computing was the future. Markkula became an investor into the Apple enterprise.
In 1977 came the birth of Apple II, the first successful mass-market computer, which would become a hallmark of Apple under Jobs. The Apple II impacted the tech business, but cheaper alternatives, like the Commodore 64 and the VIC-20, quickly eroded Apple’s market share. IBM’s open PC platform eventually won over Apple’s closed approach, and the die was cast. The PC dominated the market.
By the time Jobs was 25 in 1980, he was worth more than $100 million. “It wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money,” he once said. Apple then proceeded to shake the entire market with the Macintosh, announced in 1984 with a super-bowl ad challenging IBM.
Jobs then fell from grace one year after the Mac’s introduction, Jobs was fired in a power struggle with CEO John Sculley. Jobs was devastated, he felt he’d let those who came before him, and he wanted to apologize. “It was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the Valley,” he admitted in a 2005 speech.
Jobs realized he loved what he did, and wanted to keep doing it, so he founded NeXT, a computer company, and a computer animation outfit that he renamed Pixar. Jobs departure from Apple faltered the company forcing the company’s stock to fall 68 percent, pushing Apple to the brink of bankruptcy. In 1996 Apple purchased NeXT and Jobs returned to the company he founded, one of his first moves back was to make peace with arch-rival Microsoft which led to a $150 million investment from Microsoft, breathing new life into the almost dead Apple. He once again returned to power Jobs ran the company with an iron fist, enforcing a policy of secrecy while instilling, and unrivaled dedication to design and commitment to quality. All of this mattered to Jobs so deeply, that he became a micromanager.
Apple’s rise to fame came with iMac and continued with iTunes and the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and 2010’s iPad. While there were some failures along the way, Jobs, working with Tim Cook made one of the biggest companies in the world. Jobs has always been the public face of Apple, but after retreating from the spotlight in 2004 when doctors diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer. It was a rare form of the disease but, similar to most of Jobs hardest problems in his life, he pulled through and continued to deteriorate. His liver failed in 2009, and Jobs took a six-month medical leave. He returned, but was rarely seen until he announced he was resigning as CEO in August, and Tim Cook replaced him as the head of the company.
At a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, Jobs shared the philosophy that drove him.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Jobs said. “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”