Steve Jobs: 1955-2011
Steve Jobs, the man who steered Apple from the verge of bankruptcy to become the world’s biggest technology company, has died.
Passionate, prickly, and deemed irreplaceable by many Apple fans and investors, Steve Jobs made a life defying conventions and expectations.
Under his leadership Apple didn’t only create one iconic product, but several. The iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad – all market-defining products, and all part of Jobs’ legacy.
Sometimes life’s gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith
Yet, Jobs’ road to success wasn’t without its pitfalls and fall-outs.
Jobs grew up with an adopted family in Silicon Valley, which was turning from orchards to homes for workers at Lockheed and other defence and technology companies.
A college dropout, Jobs floated through India in search of spiritual guidance prior to founding Apple – a name he suggested to his friend and co-founder Steve Wozniak after a visit to a commune in Oregon he referred to as an “apple orchard.”
Electronics friend Bill Fernandez introduced him to boy engineer Wozniak, and the two Steves began a friendship that eventually bred Apple Computer. “Woz is a brilliant engineer, but he is not really an entrepreneur, and that’s where Jobs came in,” recently remembered Fernandez, who was the first employee at Apple.
Wozniak earlier this year said that his goal was only to design hardware and he had no interest in running Apple.
“Steve Jobs’ role was defined – you’ve got to learn to be an executive in every division of the company so you can be the world’s most important person some day. That was his goal,” joked Wozniak, who is still listed as an employee, even though he has not worked at Apple for years.
Two bites of the Apple
Jobs created Apple twice – once when he founded it and the second time after a return credited with saving the company, which now vies with Exxon Mobil as the most valuable publicly traded corporation in the United States.
Every day to him was “a new adventure in the company,” Jay Elliot, a former senior vice president at Apple who worked very closely with Jobs in the eighties, said earlier this year, adding that he was “almost like a child” when it came to his inquisitiveness.
He was highly intolerant of company politics and bureaucracy, Elliot noted.
But the inspiring Jobs came with a lot of hard edges, often alienating colleagues and early investors with his my-way-or-the-highway dictums and plans that were generally ahead of their time.
Elliot was a witness to the acrimony between Jobs and former Apple Chief Executive John Sculley who often clashed on ideas, products and the direction of the company.
The dispute came to a head at Apple’s first major sales meeting in Hawaii in 1985 where the two “just blew up against each other,” Elliot said. Jobs left soon after, saying he was fired.
“It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it,” Jobs told a Stanford graduating class in 2005. “Sometimes life’s gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”