He is the Walt Disney for our age. In that Walt Disney truly turned cinematic arts into an entertainment industry, Steve Jobs has turned technology into a catalyst for invention and human connection.
Without a doubt, Steve Jobs has done more than any other person to impact technological change and its advancement. Steve Jobs resignation letter to Apple sent shock waves through the tech community. And at the same time, it prompted comments from fans and business associates alike.
Words like “genius,” “innovator” and “visionary” were used to describe the co-founder of the most valuable and most admired company in the world. And like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs came from meager roots, to not only build an empire but innovate an industry.
The Man In Black
Forty years ago, Steve Jobs looked nothing like the skinny guy in the black turtleneck that people have come to know as Apple’s CEO. He was a college dropout with a thick mop top and an affection for calligraphy. In those days some may have even called him unmotivated: He quit one of his very first gigs – a job designing video games for Atari – to backpack around India. But he was very motivated, and those experiences Jobs would say years later shaped him as a person. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
In the early days of Apple, Jobs walked to meetings barefooted, and saw computers as much more than just machines. He was very much a driver of the “think different” mentality. In his Stanford University 2005 commencement speech, Jobs said, “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Steve Jobs was born February 24, 1955. He was given up for adoption and grew up in a quiet little Northern California valley town called Cupertino. As a teenager, he tracked down the phone number for William Hewlett, the president of Hewlett-Packard. Jobs simply wanted a few parts for a school project. Mr. Hewlett was taken by the young man’s attitude and gladly sent over the parts, along with an offer for a summer job at HP.
The Genesis of Apple
At HP, Jobs became fast friends with a co-worker, Steve Wozniak. Wozniak impressed Jobs, “He was the only the only person I met who knew more about electronics than me,” Jobs would later say. They would soon form a company together and in the garage of Jobs’ parents home at 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, they built the first Apple Computer in 1976. This was the same year Microsoft started making software. By today’s standards, the machine, which sold for $666.66, practically came from the Stone Age: It came with no keyboard or monitor, and customers had to put it together themselves.
The following year Jobs and Woz introduced the Apple II at the very first West Coast Computer Faire. The machine which featured a mouse and monitor let users control it by clicking on graphics instead of writing text – the first shot in the computer revolution had been fired.
Introducing the Mac & Saying Goodbye to Steve
“When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there,”Jobs told Newsweek in 2006. “But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.”
For Steve Jobs, that “elegant solution” was Apple’s groundbreaking Macintosh computer. Launched in early 1984, the Macintosh was a computer that Jobs (a multimillionaire by age 30) wanted for himself.
The Macintosh was introduced to the world via this now-iconic, Orwellian-inspired Super Bowl ad.
The machine sold well, but Jobs butted heads with other high-ranking executives at the company he built and in 1986 he was shown the door. The event would become a life-changing experience for Jobs. He reflected it on it during his speech to Stanford graduates in 2005. “I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.”
The NeXT Step
After he was ousted from Apple, Steve Jobs spent the next 10 years doing what he liked to do best, developing incredible technology. In 1988 he launched the NeXT Computer. This was the computer that hosted the world’s first web server software, and was also used to write the first web browser. The NeXT Computer also had the distinction on being the first computer to act as a web server for the Internet.
The cube-shaped computer had a quaint 256MB storage capacity and sold for $6,500, in 1988. It was adored by hobbyists but shunned by the average consumer. During this same period, Jobs also bought a struggling computer animation company called Pixar from George Lucas (he still sits on its Board of Directors).
In 1996, Apple bought NeXT and Steve Jobs was brought back into the Apple fold. He returned to the company he founded, but Apple was struggling in the marketplace and without direction. This was the emerging age of PC gaming, and then Apple computers were considered best used as tools for artists and magazine publishers.
Jobs was back running the company in less than a year, and four years later he was standing before a small audience introducing a device called the iPod. The tiny white music player turned the music world upside down, and marked the start of Apple’s comeback and massive growth. For the next decade, when Steve Jobs took the stage he blew audiences and the tech industry away.
In 2003, with iTunes. In 2006, with the MacBook. In 2007, with the iPhone. In 2010, with the iPad, and most recently, in 2011, with the iCloud and Apple’s new space age business complex.
A Dollar & A Dream
Steve Jobs will be remembered for many things: his ability to inspire a religious-like following, his skill as a pitchman, his “one more thing.” He sold people on ideas, his vision for tomorrow, and technology that truly made the future come to life in present day. He also did it on an annual salary of $1.
Money didn’t matter to Steve Jobs, who seemed truly happy when he was at Apple. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do,” he told the Stanford graduates in 2005.
Steve Jobs doesn’t give many interviews, but he did sit down with Walter Isaacson for his first (and most likely, only) authorized biography, which is scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster in November. Even Jobs seems mindful of his legacy considering his health (he was diagnosed and treated for pancreatic cancer in the mid 2000s, and his recent resignation from Apple would indicate his health is, sadly, not improving).
Jobs, now 56 and married with four children, had a liver transplant in 2009 when he took a six-month medical leave from Apple. His obituary has been accidentally published by more than one wire service.
Jobs has always been a renegade. According to The Wall Street Journal, he once famously said, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.” And like a pirate, maybe he’s looking for one last port to pillage before he sails into the sunset. We don’t believe treasure is what Steve Jobs is focused on now: Apple has more than $70 billion in cash reserves and has recently overtaken Exxon to become the world’s most valuable company.
As Steve Jobs turns toward the sunset, he continues to inspire generations, and we have to believe that’s truly what he always intended. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”
We wish you the best, Steve, and thanks for the inspiration.
SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT – or – SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS: