Steve Jobs: Celebrate His Life and Accomplishments

October 6, 2011, By Leo Xavier

Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, died on Wednesday at the age of 56. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur played the biggest role in reinventing the world’s computing, music and handset industries and changed the way millions of people live each day around the world.

The world has definitely lost a visionary and a pioneer. His greatest contributions include the Apple I (1976), Apple II (1977), Macintosh (1984), Pixar (1986) and iMac (1998), and certainly we don’t have to say much about all the technological advancements that he brought in this century.

The man, who had his own way of doing things and a famous temper and who always got what he wanted, will surely be missed.


Early Life

Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco to Abdulfattah John Jandali, a Syrian immigrant, and Joanne Simpson who was a graduate student. Jobs was later adopted by an Armenian family of Paul and Clara Jobs. He grew up in a middle-class suburb with the two loving parents.

He always used to speak highly of the family that adopted him and shaped his character. He once said, “I grew up at a time where we were all well-educated in public schools, a time of peace and stability until the Vietnam War got going in the late sixties”.

The problems in the sixties also played an important role in shaping his thoughts. “We wanted to more richly experience why we were alive”, he said, “not just make a better life, and so people went in search of things. The great thing that came from those that time was to realize that there was definitely more to life than the materialism of the late 50’s and early sixties. We were going in search of something deeper”.

Jobs, who was nurtured in Silicon Valley, wouldn’t have even imagined that the training that he received during his childhood days would help in shaping his future. When he was a small child, Jobs loved chasing butterflies. He learned to read before he started going to school, but school came as a shock for him.

He never liked the authority that he encountered at school. But luckily, he got the help from a wise fourth grade teacher, who lured him back to learning and made him interested in fascinating projects.

His dad, Paul, who was a machinist who never completed high school, also did his part. Paul taught Steve how to build things, disassemble them, and put them together. He also got much training from neighbors who worked in the Valley’s electronics firms. Jobs learned that the TV was not made with a magical wand, but painstakingly designed by humans.

As a teenager, Jobs started working at HP. Later, he got a job at Atari, the video-game company which was just getting started. But Jobs did not see the electronics field as something that will let him use all of his artistic powers.

Apple Is Born

But everything changed when Steve Jobs got interested in what Steve Wozniak was doing. Wozniak, a high school friend, was thrilled about personal computers, and was designing one of his own. But “Woz” never believed in commercializing his project. That is where Steve came in.

Steve wanted to make a business out of his friend’s project. He understood that personal computers could become appealing to many people and not just geeks. Steve managed to get Wozniak interested in the idea of assembling a computer and selling it.


In 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and industry vet Ronald Wayne, founded Apple. Steve’s first achievement after that was the introduction of the Apple I in 1976. A small group headed by Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne worked to invent Apple’s first computer which was little more than a circuit board.


The Apple II came out one year later. It was an instant hit, and the company also started becoming popular. The new computer was a fully assembled desktop computer which also came equipped with a handsome case.

But Jobs did not find it a good idea to run Apple by himself. He wanted the company to be run by professional management. Apple hired a chief executive and the next few years witnessed Apple becoming the most popular personal computer manufacturer.

Jobs officially unveiled the Macintosh in 1984, and it was the first computer to integrate a graphical user interface and a mouse. The machine came out with a massive media campaign spearheaded by a minute-long TV commercial.

In the same year, the company also released the Apple IIc, which was a slimmed-down version of the Apple II and was much more portable.

You’re Fired!

But unfortunately, the Mac did not record good sales numbers initially. This was one of the things that put Jobs in jeopardy at Apple. The other problem was his managerial shortcomings. In 1985, John Sculley, who was running Apple at the time, fired Steve Jobs.

Jobs later said, “You’ve probably had somebody punch you in the stomach and it knocks the wind of you and you can’t breathe. That’s how I felt”.

Although there were problems in Steve’s professional career, his personal life seemed to go well. He married Laurene Powell. He was a proud father of four children, three from his marriage to Laurene.


Career Changes


But career problems never let him down. Jobs refused to stay down and started Next which was a company that designed and sold next-generation workstations. But the Next computer never became popular, although its operating system was impressive.


Later on, Jobs paid $5 million to George Lucas and bought a computer graphics studio which was to be called Pixar. Jobs invested $5 million of his own money into the company and it was morphed from a software company into an animation studio.


Pixar churned out a string of hit family films such as Toy Story (1995), which was the first blockbuster, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. Eventually Jobs sold Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion in 2006.


Return to Apple

But it was Next that helped Jobs to get back into Apple. Apple bought Next and Jobs came back into the fold in 1996.

In 1998, Apple unveiled the candy-colored iMac and it was a runaway hit. The all-in-one design is still used by today’s iMac. The new machine had sent out the message that simplicity, beauty and power would be behind the company’s comeback.


Later, Jobs encouraged Apple designer Jonathan Ive to work the cube shape into the Power Mac line, and in 2000 the company unveiled the Power Mac G4 Cube. That machine was perhaps the most beautiful computer ever. But unfortunately it was a rare failure. The reason might be because Jobs let his aesthetic instincts overwhelm his sense of the marketplace. And also it came with a price tag of $1,800, its disk drive had problems, and the case developed stress cracks easily.


Not Just Computers Anymore: iPod

But it was from 2001 onwards that Jobs really showed his brilliance. That year, everyone witnessed the unveiling of the Apple iPod, which was a small music player. The first player came with a 5 GB hard drive and a mechanical scroll wheel. The device didn’t sync to Windows machines. Nobody would have ever thought that the device would completely change the music industry.


As you might know, Jobs had a tremendous ability to locate and hire brilliant talent. The team that he had brought together produced the iPod in less than a year. But the device’s hardware had its problems, but further innovations were incorporated into it such as the touch-wheel, a color screen for watching videos and eventually, the touchscreen.


And to add to all that, Jobs also began the iTunes music store which was the first successful service that sold music over the internet. The iTunes store has now sold billions of downloaded songs.


In 2001, we also witnessed the surfacing of Mac OS X which was a complete departure from earlier Mac OSs and definitely a next generation OS. It was appealing to those who were fluent in Windows, but it came with enough of Apple’s well-established interface conventions to keep the Apple fans interested.


Apple Stores

Apple retail stores also began opening in 2001. Now, there are over 300 Apple Stores around the world. These stores not only help in boosting Apple sales but also fuel the Apple culture.

Fight With Cancer Begins

In 2004, Steve Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. After what appeared to be a successful initial surgery, Jobs gave an address to the Stanford graduating class of 2005. That speech is considered by many as the best commencement address in history.

No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there”, he said. “And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new … Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”.

iPhone And The Apps Store

After the treatment of his cancer, Steve took Apple’s biggest risk yet — the developing of a mobile phone. He wanted to come out with a device that combined the media savvy of the iPod, with the interface wizardry of the Macintosh, and a beautiful design.

And the iPhone was nothing but spectacular. The device was unveiled in 2007, and now Apple’s handsets have completely changed our expectations of how a smartphone should look, feel and perform. (Although the iPhone 4S was a bit of a disappointment. But that was because all the other iPhones were that good).


At first, Jobs had an initial idea that only a limited number of developers should be allowed to develop applications for the iPhone. But in 2008, Apple released the iPhone SDK which allowed developers to create their own apps for the handset and sell them through the App Store.

More Health Problems: Liver Transplant

But in the coming years everybody noted that Jobs was getting thinner, and seemed weaker. He was definitely suffering from health problems. But that didn’t stop him from keeping his company on a steady pace of innovation. After a liver transplant, he returned to Apple and his first appearance was in an iPod event. And rumors were that the company was coming up with something big.

The iPad Introduced And A Big Success

And indeed it was big. Jobs introduced the iPad, the tablet computer, in April 2010. The shockwaves of that introduction are still evident even now as manufacturers are churning out iPad rivals of their own. But so far, they haven’t brought out anything that can match Apple’s greatest device.


Jobs appeared to be sentimental at the unveiling ceremony of the first iPad. He said that the iPad was a culmination of years of work, starting with OS X, then iTunes, then the iPhone, and the App Store.

Steve Jobs Steps Down

Earlier this year, Tim Cook became the temporary CEO and Jobs freed himself from everyday responsibilities. But he would still be involved in product design and strategic direction. He gave his last public speech in June, talking about iCloud. And on August 24, he let the company’s board know that he could not resume the CEO role.

He might have felt that he was nearing the end that came today. People who were near him and many millions who never met him will definitely miss him dearly.

R.I.P. Mr. Jobs – the world already misses you.

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