Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” — Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, The Co-Founder of Apple, Inc. whose death was announced on Wednesday night (Oct 5,2011), wasn’t a computer scientist. He had no training as a hardware engineer or an industrial designer. The businesses that Apple entered under his leadership — from personal computers to MP3 players to smartphones — all existed before the company got there.
But with astonishing regularity, Jobs did something that few people accomplish even once: he reinvented entire industries. He did it with ones that were new, like PCs, and he did it with ones that were old, such as music. And his pace only accelerated over the years.
He was the most celebrated, successful business executive of his generation, yet he flouted many basic tenets of business wisdom. (Like his hero and soulmate, Polaroid founder Edwin Land, he refused to conduct focus groups and other research that might tell him want his customers wanted.) In his many public appearances as the head of a large public corporation, he rarely sounded like one. He introduced the first Macintosh by quoting Bob Dylan, and took to saying that Apple sat “at the intersection of the liberal arts and technology.” (See photos of the long and extraordinary career of Steve Jobs.)
Jobs’ confidence in the wisdom of his own instincts came to be immense, as did the hype he created at Apple product launches. That might have been unbearable if it weren’t for the fact that his intuition was nearly flawless and the products often lived up to his lofty claims. St. Louis Cardinals pitching great Dizzy Dean could have been talking about Jobs rather than himself when he said “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”
Jobs’ eventual triumph was so absolute — in 2011, Apple’s market capitalization passed that of Exxon Mobil, making it the planet’s most valuable company — that it’s easy to forget how checkered his reputation once was. Over the first quarter-century of his career, he was associated with as many failed products as hits. Having been forced out of Apple in 1985, he was associated with failure, period. Even some of his admirers thought of him as the dreamer who’d lost the war for PC dominance with Microsoft’s indomitable Bill Gates.
Until the iPod era, it seemed entirely possible that Jobs’ most lasting legacy might be the blockbuster animated features produced by Pixar, the company which he founded after acquiring George Lucas’s computer-graphics lab in 1986. Instead, Pixar turned out to be, in Jobs’ famous phrase, just one more thing. (See photos of Steve Jobs’ TIME covers.)
Pixar’s most famous characters
Born in 1955 in San Francisco to an unmarried graduate student and adopted at birth by Paul and Clara Jobs, Steven Paul Jobs grew up in Silicon Valley just as it was becoming Silicon Valley. It proved to be a lucky break for everyone concerned.
He was only 21 when he started Apple — officially formed on April Fool’s Day 1976 — with his buddy Steve “Woz” Wozniak, a self-taught engineer of rare talents. (A third founder, Ron Wayne, chickened out after less than two weeks.)
Apple computer’s Steve Jobs with new LISA computer during press preview in 1983. Lisa was a name after his daughter from his first marriage.
But Jobs had already done a lot of living, all of which influenced the company he built. He’d spent one unhappy semester at Portland’s Reed College and 18 happy months of “dropping in” on Reed classes as he saw fit. He’d found brief employment in low-level jobs at Silicon Valley icons HP and Atari. He’d taken a spiritual journey to India, and dabbled with both psychedelic drugs and primal scream therapy.
Below are a few comments made in the early years of Apple :
February 15, 1982
“Steven Jobs, 26, the co-founder of five-year-old Apple Computer, practically singlehanded created the personal computer industry. This college dropout is now worth $149 million.”
—Alexander L. Taylor III, writing about “a new breed” of tech entrepreneurs who were not afraid to take risks
October 18, 1999
“For many employees, the boss’s volatile demeanor is a small price to pay for that passion. ‘Steve might be capable of reducing someone to tears,’ says John Patrick Crecine, an academic turned entrepreneur and Jobs friend of long standing, ‘but it’s not because he’s meanspirited; it’s because he’s absolutely single minded, almost manic, in his pursuit of quality and excellence.’ Indeed, Jobs’ most potent weapon is still his messianic zeal to fulfill his original vision of Apple as the bridge between the average citizen and the mysterious world of the computer. ‘His DNA was built into this company,’ says Heidi Roizen, a partner at the Softbank venture-capital firm who has known Jobs since the beginning.”
TIME staff reporters, on Jobs’ micromanaging in his dual roles at Apple and animation studio Pixar.
September 30, 1985
“In a characteristically petulant move, the chairman leaked his letter of resignation to the press hours before delivering it to Apple on Sept. 17. ‘The company’s recent reorganization,’ Jobs wrote, ‘has left me with no work to do and no access even to regular management reports. I am but 30, and want still to contribute and achieve.’ Apparently intended to arouse sympathy, the tone of the letter and its public release struck some Apple executives as a clear attempt to embarrass them. Said Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder who left the company last February to establish his own electronics firm: ‘Steve can be an insulting and hurtful guy.’ One wag dubbed Jobs the John McEnroe of business.”
—Barbara Rudolph, on Jobs’ resignation as Apple chairman in 1985, after a much-publicized conflict with then-president John Sculley
Rest in peace Steve!
You had done a great job for us !