Dubbed as one of the greatest businessmen ever, Steve Jobs died two years ago today. But his legacy, Apple Inc., is still among us. This article is about Steve Jobs’ life, his achievements, failures, and how he became from a guy in college to one of the biggest and most famous rockstars in the world.
From a garage…
It was the ’60s, Steve Jobs was still young and was used to listen to Bob Dylan and The Beatles. He traveled to India on a spiritual guide and became a Buddhist. He lived in Mountain View, California with Paul and Clara Jobs, the couple that adopted Steve Jobs when he was born. It was during his teenage he was introduced to an older guy, Steve Wozniak, who was a hacker known as “Woz”. They became friends. For the first personal computer from Apple, Woz did the wiring, Jobs did the dreaming and behold, the Apple I, the very first Apple Computer’s (now Apple Inc.) personal computer. It was 1976 and the process that would reduce size of computers from a room to a 4″ hand-held device had just begun, initiated not in the R&D Department of a firm like IBM, but inside the house of a computer geek and an occasionally high hippie. And so it began as Jobs anticipated: computers became a personal accessory, an extension of oneself.
A year after launching Apple I, Apple Computer, Inc. had an angel investor Mike Markkula to feed dollor-hungry Apple so Steve Jobs, Woz, and initial employees of Apple Computer so they could come up with better and more sleek personal computer, and so they did. Lo and behold, Apple II, the PC with colored user interface and graphics so a common user can work on them easier instead of memorizing and typing commands to complete their tasks. And it was a boom. Jobs and Woz got more than 300 orders of Apple II within months of launching it in April 1987 in a West Coast Computer Fair. In three years, they had sold more than 120,000 units of Apple II.
Riding the wave of success
Two Steve’s didn’t stop there, it was always Jobs’ thing to move forward and innovate continuously And with Apple Computer’s newly incorporation as a public company, Jobs had both money and people to push the revolution. During this time, the future of computing was forming inside the Palo Alto Research Company (formerly Xerox PARC) in the form of a mouse, a simple device that would shape how users interaction with computers. In exchange for shares worth $1 million in Apple Computer, PARC gave Steve Jobs and his team access to their crown jewel. Jobs went in, stole the concept and included it in one of the most anticipated personal computers of that time: Macintosh.
Even though Macintosh never hit the market, it was a PC Apple spent a fortune on. Due to Steve Jobs’ nature of doing things perfectly the first time, they had left behind in launching the Macintosh and Microsoft came up with its own personal computer and an operating system that would dominate the global PC market for the next few decades.
The Extraordinaire: “1984”
“1984”, a multi-million dollars advertisement that introduced the world to Macintosh and challenged IBM, one of the biggest companies in computing. The ad has been dubbed as the best advertisement on television. Its only U.S. daytime televised broadcast was on January 22, 1984, during and as part of the telecast of the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII by CBS.
It was October 1983 and Apple’s staff meeting, confident and determined Steve Jobs took the stage and blatantly attacked IBM, one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world
IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?
said Steve Jobs. He then turned to the screen, lights got dimmed, and the ad started playing.
Steve Jobs was a young visionary who, at that time, wanted to change the world of computing. But, ever since Apple became a public company, it had the board of directors who were very much concerned with the company’s profitability and not its ability to develop the next big thing. They asked Jobs to hire a senior and more experienced professional to run the company. Jobs went to see the CEO of Pepsi, John Scully and lured him away by asking him a simple question: “Do you want to sell sugar-water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Thus Scully becomes the President of Apple Computer Inc.
In the beginning, both Jobs and Scully was fine with each other but the board of directors intervened again. They thought that Macintosh had gone out of has suffered losses in Millions to the company. In an internal meeting among Jobs, Scully, and the board of directors, they ruled out Steve Jobs from the company he built from the ground up. “I was out and very publicly out,” says Steve Jobs in his Stanford University commencement address in 2005.
Steve Jobs took this action pretty personal. He thought he failed publicly and let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down. He revealed in Stanford commencement address that even thought about running away from the Valley. But as he cooled down, he started realizing that he still loved what he did. So he stood up again and bought a company ‘Next Computers’ in trying to making the world’s best computer.
He realized that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that had happened to him. Those years were the most calming years of his life, according to him. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by lightness of being a beginner again,” says Steve Jobs recalling the time he almost lost his purpose.
The rise of the fallen
Steve Jobs’ Next couldn’t get market traction. It was a great hardware but the world wasn’t ready to buy a personal computer worth more than five grand. It later began to dawn on him that the software/operating system that powered the beast was the real attraction.
It was November 22, 1995, and people across America were lining up to watch a computer-generated movie made by an unconventional film studio, Pixar. With Steve Jobs in the house coupled with the limitless power of Next Computer, Pixar was able to develop a computer-generated feature film, Toy Story. A film that made Pixar worth 100 times more than it was. Walt Disney showed interest in Pixar and bought it for $7.4 billion dollars.
Apple, however, was bleeding millions. They had no new product to make and Microsoft was ruling the personal computer and operating system industry. Apple had reduced from the being the next big thing to a company that would manufacture useless computers. Jobs, on the other hand, became a billionaire. In a surprising turn of events, Apple bought Next Computer and Steve Jobs came with the package. It was 1997 and Steve Jobs was back in the company he started as an advisor.
The operating system Steve brought with him in the form of Next Computer became the life saver for Apple.
The board of directors at Apple had asked him to become the interim CEO and Jobs agreed. He knew his direction now. He knew what he wanted to do and how he was going to do it.
The Extraordinaire: “Think Different”
This ad campaign was launched by Steve Jobs after his comeback at Apple. It featured people who used to think differently and people who changed the industry they belonged to. The ad featured Bob Dylan, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, Alfred Hitchcock, Mahamtma Ghandhi, Martha Graham, Jim Henson, Maria Callas, and Pablo Picasso.
… To world’s most valuable company
After Steve Jobs came back to Apple, he made fundamental changes to the way Apple would conduct business. He cut off other projects and focused on the development of a new Mac computer, the iMac. With the powerful operating system of Next Computer up his sleeves, Jobs and his team start developing a sleek, beautiful, egg-shaped, and sexy personal computer. One that would work like an appliance. And it was a big success.
Now with cash flowing in the company, Steve Jobs looked back at this passion towards music in general and Bob Dylan and the Beatles in particular and decided to give a personal touch to the music industry. And thus came into being one of the most successful music and video playing device, an iPod. But, iPod came with a downside: it was the era of Napster and everyone was downloading illegal songs. Steve Jobs came with a ridiculously smart idea of iTunes: selling songs separately on an online forum for just $0.99. It boomed exponentially and so did the sales of iPod.
Steve Jobs didn’t just stopped there, he continued innovating, introducing new models of iPods with enhance capabilities. Each model was sleeker and sexier, the hallmark of products from Apple.
The Extraordinaire: “Stanford commencement address”
Steve Jobs gave a commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. In this commencement speech, he disclosed details of his personal life, his struggle with pancreatic cancer, and many of his life philosophies. It is considered to be one of the most impactful commencement speeches.
Steve Jobs was unstoppable. He kept pushing himself and his team to the limits and beyond. After revolutionizing the music industry, Jobs saw the potential in mobile devices. On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs in his signature turtle neck, a pair of jeans, and sneakers, dropped a bomb: a smartphone that would now set a benchmark for smartphones to come for many years.
Jobs didn’t just reinvent things; he also, out of thin air, created devices no one has ever thought about before. Lo and behold, the iPad, a completely revolutionary device with the best web browsing experience ever. The acceptance of a device like iPad was the fastest among consumer technology products.
The innovation was not just in terms of hardware. Steve Jobs did way more than creating devices; he created an eco-system. An eco-system of content, apps, books, music, movies, games, the iTunes, the App Store, the Mac Store, there are so many things you can do with these devices.
In September 2012, Apple became the planet’s most valuable company bigger than Microsoft and Intel combined, proving a point that Steve Jobs had always been the right person to lead the company.
Inner fights and demise
Not only was Steve Jobs fighting in the business arena, he was also fighting an inner battle, the battle of pancreatic cancer. This cancer tumour was discovered in 2003. Although people with pancreatic cancer die in a few years of the disease, Jobs lived with this disease for almost a decade. Over 9 years, Jobs underwent surgeries and a liver transplant. But even though with a cancerous tumor growing in his pancreas, Steve Jobs didn’t give up. He showed up at launch events of Apple products in his signature outfit, smiling, and with cheerful attitude.
The legend that changed the world died on October 5, 2011,
Although he’s not among us today, Steve Jobs will be remembered as one of the great entrepreneurs, innovators, and change agents the world has ever saw.
Here’s to the crazy ones.