Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011
No doubt the biggest news in tech this year was the passing of Apple co-founder and tech visionary Steven Paul Jobs. Born in 1955, ‘Steve’ as he was known, went on to create some of the most loved, hated, admired and copied devices in the history of mankind. He was a man that was driven by a desire to be beautiful, perfect and… intuitive. Those who worked around him knew that Steve wanted the best in people and always pushed them to achieve it
Steve Jobs was known to be ‘tinkerer’ – a man that saw the potential in products and ideas. He often used to joke with Jonathan Ive (close and long-time friend and Senior Vice President of Industrial Design) about ideas that were ‘stupid’ and others that have earned millions for Apple Inc. Others say that Jobs ‘stole’ from others and made them his own. But regardless of what you think, one this is certain: you can’t ignore the impact that one man had on the world we know today.
Jobs had a considerable impact on many lives – maybe even everyone. He was a man who revolutioned technology not once or twice, but four times. He emphasised the personal in personal computer, pushed the music industry towards digital distribution with the iPod, popularised the smartphone with the iPhone and reinvented the dying tablet industry with the iPad. He also influenced so many people who also were instrumental to the level of technology today.
The Early Years
Steve Jobs was on 24 February 1955, to two university students, Joanne Carole Schieble and Syrian born Abdulfattah “John” Jandali who placed him up for adoption due to financial and cultural reasons. He was adopted to Paul Reinhold and Clara Jobs. His “adoptive parents” raised him in the Paolo Alto area of California which allowed him to attended HP after-school lectures where he met Steve Wozniak (the second co-founder of Apple). Whilst in his early 20s, Jobs decided to visit India in search of spiritual enlightenment. He ‘tripped’ on LSD (which he later stated was one of the most important things of his life) and became a serious practitioner Zen Bhuddhism.
Apple/YouTube (uploaded by seancollier)
In the 1970s and 1980s, Apple became Apple and entered into a turbulent time when stock prices fell and overall company outlook changed. In 1976, Jobs’ first product was the Apple II which created a path for personal computing into the future. Jobs became well-known after the launch of Apple II as it ignited the path for the personal computing revolution by introducing the graphical interface. In 1984, the world was introduced to the one product that propelled Apple – and Steve with it – into the history books: the Macintosh. It was made famous by the Superbowl XVIII advertisement “1948”.
Unfortunately for Jobs, this would also mark the beginning of the end for his time at Apple. In 1985, he was removed from all managerial aspects of Apple.
Jobs’ journey in the computing world continued despite his disassociation with Apple. Together with US$7 million, he created NeXT computer. The first computer was priced too high for education systems, so academic, scientific and financial industries became his selling focus. This was an important step for Jobs as NeXT would have an indirect effect of transforming the world: Tim Berners-Lee (the “Father of the Internet”) would create the World Wide Web on a NeXT computer and change communications forever.
1986 also saw Jobs acquire Pixar from Lucasfilm and this acquisition gave NeXT the industrial leverage to ‘show-off’ its skill. In 1996, ‘Toy Story’ was released and was the first fully-animated computer-made film and became a Disney classic. Disney and Pixar continued the partnership, giving Disney titles such as ‘Cars’, ‘Finding Nemo’ and the sequels to ‘Toy Story’. Disney then bought Pixar in 2006, making Steve Jobs the largest shareholder in Disney.
The Second Coming of Apple
In 2005, at his famous Stanford commencement speech, Jobs stated that his time away from Apple allowed to to refocus himself and his creative energies into the products we know today. In 1998, he terminated a lot of money-losing projects at Apple and focused the resources of Apple towards the ‘iMac’ and the best-selling version of Mac: OS X (which has roots from NeXT).
In 2001, he oversaw the design of the iPod and the beginning of the musical revolution. It was a tough battle to bring the music studios onboard with the iTunes Store but Steve understood how people perceived computers and by allowing US$0.99 songs, the digital age of music began. In 2007, after transforming TWO industries, Jobs turned mobile computing on its head with the introduction of the iPhone. Suddenly, people had a reason to be trendy and intuitive and Steve Jobs was the guy who could see all about it.
Finally, in 2010, the iPad was introduced to the world, creating an industry that we didn’t know even existed! These products allowed Steve Jobs to channel his inner artist and ship the end result to millions of people to the world. Whilst many thousands worked under him, Jobs would never want to place anyone done, but only push them to their best and give to the customer something the customer didn’t even know existed. Whilst on his last legs, Steve Jobs remarked to Walter Isaacson (author the official, authorised biography) that he had ‘cracked’ the TV and that he had left a path for Apple into the near future. The long term – like many things in life – is still unknown.
Cupertino City Council/YouTube
In Sickness and In Health
When he announced his medical leave in January, the stock fell. It was his third leave since 2000 – and a year and a half later after his second leave that saw a liver transplant, and there was some concern about his health. However, we did not know how severe it was – he still made his appearances, even announcing the iPad 2 and the presentation before the Cupertino City Council.
But the questions of severity were put to rest. Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple on August 24.
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know,” he wrote in a letter to employees. “Unfortunately that day has come.”
It was the day everyone knew how ill he was. It was also the day when Apple finally had to implement their succession plan. Jobs’ presence hadn’t left altogether from Apple – he was made chairman of the board up until his death a few months later.
Love was Everything
Mona Simpson, the biological sister of Jobs, recounted in her eulogy that:
Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.
Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”
I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”
When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored”
To simply put it: Steve Jobs was both a pioneer and very well-known and authorative figure and a family man. He was a man who was passionate about all that he did and worked hard for his success. His never-ending care for his family can be found in the simpletons of his home (detailed in his biography) and by the simple fact that all his four children knew him as ‘Dad’ and grew up in a normal neighbourhood, in a normal suburb like normal kids – something which Steve was very much and very much not.