On October 5th, 2011, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away from pancreatic cancer. The innovative and forward thinking former CEO of Apple was one of the founding fathers of the personal computing revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Along with Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne, Jobs created Apple Computing on April 1st, 1976. Wayne stepped away less than two weeks later, and Wozniak and Jobs became the leaders of the fledgling company. Jobs stayed with company until he was forced out in September 1985 after a failed takeover attempt.
During his time away from Apple, Jobs was a very busy man. He approached George Lucas in 1986 about buying a small animation studio from him. Lucas sold him Pixar for less than 10 million. 20 years later, Jobs sold to the groundbreaking animation studio to Disney in 2006 for 7.4 Billion in stock, making Jobs the leading stockholder and a member of its board of directors. He also started a company called NeXT Computing, with the purpose of selling business computers. The company failed, but Jobs created the NeXT operating system, which eventually became OSX. NeXT was eventually bought out by Apple, who eventually made Jobs interim CEO.
Jobs, along with a handful of others including Bill Gates and Wozniak, can easily be called one of the fathers of the modern personal computing industry. These early visionaries were instrumental in the development of our modern digital age, and without them the idea of how this article is being shared most likely would not exist.
Jobs became synonymous with Apple during his second tenure with the company. His trademark black turtleneck and jeans are seen as emblematic of Apple and its consumers. In fact, Apple is unique in the modern era for being a company that has enthusiastic loyalists, which is unheard of for a technology company. The technology industry is, by its nature, very much a what have you done for me lately marketplace, and several companies and technologies have come and gone since Jobs returned to Apple in 1996. However, since Jobs return, Apple has innovated and increased its market share in several fields. The focus of the company has expanded beyond personal computing and into personal electronics (which was made evident by the “i-” prefix on its products). The Ipod, originally released in 2001, revolutionized personal audio and created the mobile mp3 player market, and the iPhone, released in 2007, created the modern smart-phone marketplace. In addition, the OSX operating system, another Jobs innovation, has moved to second place in the Operating System marketplace, behind Windows.
But Jobs was singular in his vision and cult of personality surrounding his place with the company he started. While Bill Gates is the face of Microsoft, he doesn't hold the cultural sway that Jobs held. Simply put, each Apple event hosted by Jobs was an event larger than the computing world, even to those who weren't Apple enthusiasts. Some Apple users are a tad evangelical in their zeal; Jobs energy and enthusiasm for his products and futurist vision made it somewhat understandable. Apple under Jobs was as much about futurist lifestyle marketing as it was about marketing products. With his passing, we are starting to gain some perspective on the scope of the last great American period of innovation: the birth of the Digital Age.