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 the greatest 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.
RIP Steve Jobs