Steve Jobs, born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, was a transformative figure in the world of technology and business. As the co-founder of Apple Inc., Jobs played a pivotal role in shaping the personal computer era, revolutionising multiple industries, and leaving an indelible mark on the world.
In 1978, when he was just 23 years old, Jobs had already amassed a wealth exceeding $1 million (equivalent to $4.49 million in 2022). By the time he reached 25, his net worth had expanded to an estimated $250 million (equivalent to $805 million in 2022).
Raised by adoptive parents in Cupertino, California, Jobs' early life was marked by curiosity and a diverse range of interests. He dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1974, eventually securing a job as a video game designer at Atari Corporation. His desire to seek a deeper purpose led him to India, where he explored Buddhism.
Returning to Silicon Valley in 1974, Jobs reconnected with his high school friend, Stephen Wozniak, who worked at Hewlett-Packard. Jobs saw an opportunity in Wozniak's design for a personal computer and suggested they start a business together. In 1976, they co-founded Apple Computer, Inc., with the creation of the Apple I.
The Apple I, built in Jobs' family garage after selling his Volkswagen minibus and Wozniak's programmable calculator, was just the beginning of a journey that would redefine the tech industry.
Steve Jobs was one of the first visionaries to understand that personal computers could have mass appeal, provided they were well-designed and user-friendly. His influence on Apple's success was profound, as he encouraged Wozniak to design the Apple II, a complete personal computer with a keyboard and sleek moulded plastic casing. This computer quickly became synonymous with the personal computer revolution.
In 1977, the same year Apple Computer was incorporated, the company went public with a record-setting stock offering. Apple made its debut on the Fortune 500 list in 1983, following a period of rapid expansion.
Jobs' ability to infuse his company with a sense of innovation and the belief in the potential of personal computing marked his tenure at Apple. His emphasis on making the Macintosh "insanely great" became the driving force behind Apple's products. The Macintosh's graphical user interface was influenced by a visit to Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, which demonstrated the ease of using the graphical interface.
However, the early Macintosh struggled due to high costs and limited software support. Tensions arose within the company, leading to Jobs' departure in 1985 after John Sculley, Apple's CEO, removed him from the company he co-founded.
Jobs' departure from Apple did not mark the end of his entrepreneurial journey. In 1986, he founded NeXT Inc., a company that initially designed high-end workstations for the education market. Although NeXT hardware did not achieve widespread success, its software system, NEXTSTEP, became influential and was later acquired by Apple.
Another significant venture during Jobs' hiatus from Apple was his acquisition of a majority stake in Pixar. Over the years, Pixar became a prominent animation studio responsible for groundbreaking computer-animated films, including the first-ever feature-length computer-animated film, "Toy Story."
In the late 1990s, Apple was in dire straits. The company's fortunes were fading, and it was on the brink of collapse. In 1997, Apple's board of directors, faced with financial losses and a shrinking market share, sought Steve Jobs' expertise.
Jobs returned to Apple, forming a partnership with erstwhile rival Microsoft and bringing innovative ideas to the company. He simplified Apple's product line, scrapped Mac-clone agreements, and introduced a fresh advertising campaign that urged consumers to "think differently." These efforts brought Apple back from the brink of failure.
In the early 2000s, Jobs began reinventing Apple for the new millennium. Apple introduced iTunes, a program for playing and organising music, and the iPod, a portable MP3 player that quickly became a market leader. In 2003, Apple made a historic move by selling downloadable songs through the iTunes Store, selling over a billion songs by 2006.
In 2007, Jobs unveiled the iPhone, a game-changing combination of a mobile phone, an MP3 player, and an internet communication device. Apple's expansion into telecommunications was a resounding success.
In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which he initially attempted to treat with alternative medicine. However, he eventually underwent surgery. Throughout the years, Jobs faced multiple health issues and took a medical leave of absence.
Steve Jobs' health became a matter of public concern as Apple's stock performance was closely tied to his well-being. In 2011, Jobs stepped down as Apple's CEO and assumed the role of chairman. He passed away on October 5, 2011, leaving a profound legacy in the world of technology and entrepreneurship.
Steve Jobs received numerous honours and awards during his lifetime and posthumously, recognising his contributions to the tech industry and society as a whole. In 1985, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan. In 2012, he was posthumously awarded a Grammy Trustees Award and an Edison Achievement Award for his innovation. In 2022, Jobs was posthumously honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Joe Biden, the highest civilian honour in the United States.
Steve Jobs' life and work continue to inspire entrepreneurs, innovators, and anyone who believes in the power of thinking differently to shape the future. His legacy lives on through the iconic products he created, his vision for the intersection of technology and art, and the enduring influence he had on the world of technology and beyond.