Today marks the anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs, co-founder of the almighty Apple Inc. and one of the most prolific characters in Information Technology, ever. Apple marked the anniversary with a video homage on their website, featuring black and white still shots and quotes from their former figurehead. A look at the career of the technology genius seemed appropriate at this time, not only because of the date in question, but also on account of the many developments that Apple has undertaken of late.
Jobs, who died of cancer on the 5th October 2011 at the age 56, was undeniably one of the most important men in the history of computing. For a man who had no formal training in engineering after dropping out of college to find ‘spiritual enlightenment’ and join hippie communes, Jobs always seemed to know what he wanted. He called up Bill Hewlett to get a summer job at the HP factory at just thirteen and got his first job at video game maker Atari, after spending his spare time building and selling illegal ‘blue boxes’ that allowed people to make free phone calls. Meeting similarly-minded people was a big part of his success and it was a high school friend, Steve Wozniak, who he started Apple Inc. with, in a976 at the tender age of 21.
After numerous unsuccessful pitches, they finally found an investor, although earlier versions of the Apple computer were too expensive to be commercially viable and ended up being the luxury of industry hobbyists and monied geeks. That all changed in 1978 when the Apple II became the first mass-market personal computer. Sales were impressive and the company that had humble beginnings in the Jobs family garage went public in1980, increasing Steve Jobs’ net worth to over $200 million. There were many hits and misses along the way, in business as well as in his personal life. Sales sky-rocketed with some models and completely flopped withy others. Jobs had a daughter who he never acknowledged except by naming the ‘Lisa’ computer after her.
Internal power struggles, attempted coups, hiring’s and mass firings were all part of the journey. Jobs even left the business for a time and started NeXt with other ex-Apple employees, acquiring the computer division of George Lucas’ ILC in 1986, to create Pixar which subsequently creates Toy Story. Jobs’ net worth rise to $1.5 billion after Pixar goes public.
Jobs re-joined Apple and spearheaded the development of revolutionary products like the iMac computer, the iPod, iTunes and the iPad, which he called ‘the biggest thing Apple’s ever done.’
The thread that ran through all Jobs’ career and truly made him a visionary was the desire to push boundaries and approach his life’s work as a revolution rather than an improvement on current offerings. The same can be said of Apple today. The company has more to offer by way of newness than any other technological firm and the theme for Apple seems to stem from an address Jobs made to Stanford University students back in 2005. He stated ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish‘, a motto he definitely encompassed.