Steve Jobs Biography and Legacy
Apple is one of the most well-known technology companies in the world, and its popularity continues to grow with each passing year. The name “Steve Jobs” has become practically synonymous with the company; he was the CEO of Apple, which he co-founded in 1976. Jobs led an interesting and eventful life as an entrepreneur, inventor, and designer.
Steve was born February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. He grew up with one sister, Patty. Paul Jobs was a machinist and fixed cars as a hobby. Job's biological parents married and had another child, a daughter named Mona, and Steve knew nothing about his biological family until he was 27 years old.
After graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for two years. He dropped out to visit India and study Eastern religions in the summer of 1974.
In 1975 Jobs joined a group known as the Homebrew Computer Club. One member, a technical whiz named Steve Wozniak, was trying to build a small computer. Jobs became fascinated with the marketing potential of such a computer. In 1976 he and Wozniak formed their company, funding it by selling Job's Volkswagen bus and Wozniak's prized scientific calculator. They called their new venture Apple Computer Company.
Jobs and Wozniak sold their first computer, the Apple I, generating almost $775,000 in sales. They redesigned their computer with the idea of selling it to individual users, and the Apple II went to market in 1977 with impressive first-year sales of $2.7 million. The company's sales grew to almost $200 million within three years. Jobs and Wozniak had opened an entirely new market—personal computers.
In 1984 Apple introduced a revolutionary new model, the Macintosh. The on-screen display had small pictures called icons. To use the computer, the user pointed at an icon and clicked a button using a device called a mouse.
This process made the Macintosh very easy to use. The Macintosh did not sell well to businesses because it lacked features other personal computers had. The failure of the Macintosh signaled the beginning of Jobs's initial downfall at Apple. He resigned in 1985, though he retained his title as chairman of its board of directors.
Jobs soon hired some of his former employees to begin a new computer company called NeXT. In late 1988 the NeXT computer was introduced at a large gala event in San Francisco, aimed at the educational market.
The product was very user-friendly and had a fast processing speed, excellent graphics displays, and an outstanding sound system. Despite the warm reception, however, the NeXT machine never caught on. It was too costly, had a black-and-white screen, and could not be linked to other computers or run common software.
In 1986 Jobs purchased a small company called Pixar from filmmaker George Lucas. Pixar specialized in computer animation. Nine years later Pixar release Toy Story, a huge box office hit. Pixar later went on to make Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life, which Disney distributed, and Monsters, Inc., among other hits. In 2006, Pixar merged with Disney, and as a result, Jobs became the largest shareholder of Disney stock.
In December 1996, Apple purchased NeXT Software for over $400 million. After more than 10 years away from the company, Jobs returned to Apple as a part-time consultant to the chief executive officer (CEO).
Back at Apple
Over the next six years, Apple introduced several new products and marketing strategies.
In November 1997 Jobs announced Apple would sell computers directly to users over the Internet and by telephone. The Apple Store became a runaway success. Within a week it was the third-largest e-commerce site on the Internet. In September 1997 Jobs was named interim CEO of Apple.
In 1998 Jobs announced the release of the iMac, which featured powerful computing at an affordable price. The iBook was unveiled in July 1999. It includes Apple's AirPort, a computer version of the cordless phone that would allow the user to surf the Internet wirelessly. In January 2000 Jobs unveiled Apple's new Internet strategy. It included a group of Macintosh-only Internet-based applications. Jobs also announced that he was becoming the permanent CEO of Apple.
Apple also became a leader in the digital music revolution, having sold over 110 million iPods and over three billion songs from its iTunes online store. Apple then entered the mobile phone market in 2007 with its revolutionary iPhone.
Steve Jobs’ Final Years
In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Initially, he delayed surgery, wanting to treat his illness with holistic methods, but eventually had an operation to remove the tumor in 2004. The surgery was deemed successful, and in following years Jobs disclosed little else about his health.
Jobs’ health started to decline noticeably in 2009. In January of that year, he announced a six-month leave of absence, and in April he underwent a liver transplant, after which his prognosis was called “excellent.”
However, a year and a half after the transplant, Jobs took another medical leave of absence. He announced his formal resignation as CEO on August 24, 2011, but continued to work as chairman of the board until October 4, 2011, the day before his death.
On October 5, Jobs died of complications related to his pancreatic cancer. He was 56 years old.
Following Jobs’ death, there were outpourings of support across the tech community. He was, posthumously, the subject of a film, an authorized biography, and a number of other books.
Although none of the works covering Jobs’ life depict him as a perfect man, on one thing they agree: Steve Jobs was a genius, and he died too soon.