Steve Jobs – 1955–2011

Image by Matt Yohe
Image by Matt Yohe

Previous reports of Steve Jobs’ death were, like Mark Twain’s, an exaggeration. Sadly, this morning, they are all too accurate. The man who gave the world the iPod, iPhone and iPad, has died aged 56.

Steve’s health issues were well publicised. He suffered with pancreatic cancer, and rumours of his deteriorating health started to circle when he appeared in public, after a long absence from the limelight, looking skeletally thin several years ago. Despite this he seemed to recover and presented several keynote speeches and launch events for Apple’s iPhone and iPad products.

Jobs, who was half-Syrian and raised by his adoptive American parents, was born in San Francisco. He attended high school in Cupertino, California and was a regular attendee at extra-curricular lectures at the Hewlett Packard Company in Palo Alto; he was later hired there and hit it off particularly well with one colleague in particular – Steve Wozniak. And so the first seeds of Apple were sown.

After graduating high school in 1972, and briefly attending Reed College in Portland, Oregon, he returned to California and took a job with Atari before taking a spiritual retreat to India. Shortly after his return he went back to Atari, and enlisted the help of his friend Wozniak in creating a new circuit board for the classic video game Breakout.

Wozniak excelled at the task, eliminating 50 chips from the original Atari design. Noting his friend’s prowess with electronics, Jobs convinced Wozniak that they should build and sell a computer. In 1976, Apple was officially founded by Jobs, Wozniak and their Atari colleague, Ronald Wayne.

Jobs left Apple in 1985 having been relieved of his duties by then-CEO, John Sculley, following the famous internal power struggle and a year of disappointing sales. He went on to found a new company, NeXT Computer, that same year.

NeXT built technologically advanced workstations for the academic and scientific communities but in 1993, struggling after having sold only 50,000 machines, the company abandoned its hardware offering. Jobs switched NeXT’s focus to pure software development and in less than a year turned its first profit of $1.03 million.

In 1996 Apple acquired NeXT for $429 million, and in 1997 Steve Jobs returned as CEO of the company he had founded 20 years earlier.

With Jobs back at the helm Apple’s sales increased dramatically as the iMac and other products underwent a radical redesign, making them not only powerful, but stylish and fashionable to own. The creation of the iPod in 2002 marked the beginning of a branching-out for Apple, and having revolutionised the way we listen to music, Jobs turned his attention to the mobile phone market.

June 2007 saw the launch of the iPhone, which led to the iPod Touch and the iPad and all the Apple products we see on trains, Airports and in offices and living rooms across the world.

In August of 2011 he resigned as CEO of the Cupertino based company, citing health issues. He stayed on as chairman of Apple’s board of directors, and named Tim Cook as his preferred successor – a wish the board happily granted.

Late in the evening of 5 October, it was confirmed that Steve had passed away. He leaves behind a wife, Laurene, and four children.

Everyone who has ever used a smartphone or tablet computer and loves technology owes Steven Paul Jobs a debt of thanks. And we are in mourning.

Rest in peace, Steve.

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