On October 5, 2011, we lost one of America’s great innovators, Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple.
[Image source: MacDesktops]
From the beginning, Steve Jobs seemed to “Think Different” than everyone else, which made Apple’s 1994 ad campaign so appropriate. The ad began with these words:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers… the ones who see things differently… [T]he only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
I can remember each time I first used one of Apple’s products. While working for IBM as systems engineer right out of college and working with both mainframe systems and some not-so-friendly PC software, I got to use a friend’s Macintosh and was blown away by how easy it was to use. Fast forward to the iPod, the iPhone and now the iPad, and we now have a world that couldn’t conceive of life without the innovations resulting from Steve Jobs vision and perseverance.
A Timeline for a Lifetime of Innovations
[Image source: BBC]
- 1976: At age 21, Jobs leaves Atari where he was a game programmer and co-founds Apple Computers with friend Steve Wozniak in his family’s garage in Silicon Valley. They produce the Apple I computer, the first single-board computer with a video interface and onboard Read Only Memory (ROM) that told the machine how to load programs from an external source.
- 1977: Apple II becomes one of the first successful personal computers
- 1984: The Macintosh, with graphical interface, launched. It reintroduced the innovative Xerox invention of a user-friendly interface with picture-like icons accessed with a computer mouse, now the standard for all computers large and small.
- 1985: Jobs leaves Apple after a boardroom coup and founds NeXT Software.
- 1986: Buys Pixar from Lucasfilms and transforms animated filmmaking. Pixar won an Academy Award for computer-animated short film “Tin Toy.
- 1995: Pixar releases Toy Story in conjunction with Walt Disney Pictures, the first animated feature created entirely by computer. It was the highest domestic grossing film that year and the third highest grossing animated film of all time.
- 1997: Apple buys NeXT Software for its innovative NeXT Step Operating system which introduced a new technology called object-oriented programming (OOP) which allows programmers to write complex software programs in a fraction of the usual time. Jobs returns to Apple.
- 1998: Saves Apple with the iMac, a computer with integrated monitor and system unit.
- 2001: Launches the iPod, the first successful digital music player with a hard drive, along with iTunes software. Also introduces computers with OS X, the modern Mac operating system based on NeXT OOP software.
- 2003: Apple launches the iTunes Music Store with 200,000 songs at 99 cents each, giving people a convenient way to buy music legally online. It sells 1 million songs in the first week.
- 2004: Is treated for a rare form of pancreatic cancer
- 2005: Apple expands the iPod line with the tiny Nano and an iPod that can play video.
- 2007: Unveils the iPhone.
- 2008: Introduces Macbook Air, the world’s thinnest ultralight laptop computer.
- 2009: Goes on medical leave to treat an “undisclosed medical condition”, and 6 months later returns to work after receiving a liver transplant.
- January 2010: Unveils the iPad, creating a new computer category of touchscreen tablets, selling 15 million in 9 months.
- May 2010: Apple becomes the world’s most valuable tech company and rivals Exxon Mobil as the world’s largest company.
- January 2011: Takes medical leave but remains chief executive
- March 2011: Unveils the second-generation iPad in a surprise appearance to standing ovation
- August 24, 2011: Resigns as chief executive of Apple.
- October 5, 2011: Apple confirms Jobs’ death at the age of 56.
Wired magazine summed up Jobs’ contributions in an article by Michael Calore:
With Steve Jobs’ passing, we have lost one of the greatest technological innovators of our time.
Jobs wasn’t just a savvy businessman, he was a visionary who made it his mission to humanize personal computing, rewriting the rules of user experience design, hardware design and software design. His actions reverberated across industry lines:
- He shook up the music business,
- dragged the wireless carriers into the boxing ring,
- changed the way software and hardware are sold and
- forever altered the language of computer interfaces.
Most importantly, Jobs remembered to focus on what most technology companies forget; he focused on the people, you and me, and created technology for everyman that you didn’t have to be an engineer to use. And he made tech gadgets that not only blew us away with their function but were also oh, so cool and stylish that we all fell in love with them.
Steve Jobs made “Think Different” more than an ad slogan, he made it a mantra that changed the world forever. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on in all of us who dare to “see things differently“.
[Image source: PopsOp.com]