Home Featured Story Steve Jobs — A Computer Industry Visionary
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Steve Jobs — A Computer Industry Visionary

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“What I'm best at doing is finding a group of talented people and making things with them. I respect the direction that Apple is going in. But for me personally, you know, I want to make things. And if there's no place for me to make things there, then I'll do what I did twice before. I'll make my own place. You know, I did it in the garage when Apple started, and I did it in the metaphorical garage when Mac started.”-- Steve Jobs

Steven Jobs was born February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.

In 1961 the family moved to Mountain View, California. This area, just south of Palo Alto, California, was becoming a center for electronics. Electronics form the basic elements of devices such as radios, televisions, stereos, and computers. At that time people started to refer to the area as "Silicon Valley," due to the silicon used in the manufacturing of electronic parts.

APPLE BEGINS

After graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for two years. In 1975 Jobs joined a group known as the Homebrew Computer Club. One member, a technical whiz named Steve Wozniak was trying to build a small computer. Jobs became fascinated with the marketing potential of such a computer.

Apple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne to sell the Apple I personal computer kit. Steve Jobs was said to own 45% of the company, Steve Wozniak with 45% and Wayne the remaining 10%. While Jobs and Wozniak were young with little to no assets, Ronald Wayne was older with personal assets and was scared to put these at risk. This resulted in Wayne selling his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak for a reported $800. Today Wayne’s share of the company would be worth over 3 billion dollars.

At first they sold circuit boards (the boards that hold the internal components of a computer) while they worked on the computer prototype.

At that time almost all computers were mainframes. They were so large that one could fill a room, and so costly that individuals could not afford to buy them. Advances in electronics, however, meant that computer components were getting smaller and the power of the computer was increasing.

Jobs and Wozniak redesigned their computer, with the idea of selling it to individual users. The Apple II went to market in 1977, with impressive first year sales of $2.7 million. The company's sales grew to $200 million within three years. This was one of the most phenomenal cases of corporate growth in U.S. history.

By 1980 the personal computer era was well underway. Apple introduced the Apple III, but the new model suffered technical and marketing problems. It was withdrawn from the market, and was later reworked and reintroduced.

In 1983 Jobs unveiled the Lisa. It was designed for people possessing minimal computer experience. It did not sell well, however, because it was more expensive than personal computers sold by competitors.

In 1984 Apple introduced a revolutionary new model, the Macintosh. The on-screen display had small pictures called icons. To use the computer, the user pointed at an icon and clicked a button using a new device called a mouse. The Macintosh did not sell well to businesses, because it lacked such features as a high quality printer. The failure of the Macintosh signaled the beginning of Jobs’ downfall at Apple. Jobs resigned in 1985, but retained his title as chairman of its board of directors.

NEXT

Jobs soon hired some of his former employees to begin a new computer company called NeXT. In 1988 the NeXT computer was introduced and marketed to the educational sector. Despite a warm reception, the NeXT machine never caught on. It was too costly, had a black-and-white screen, and could not be linked to other computers or run common software.

PIXAR

In 1986 Jobs purchased a small company called Pixar, a company that specialized in computer animation, from filmmaker George Lucas. Nine years later Pixar released Toy Story, a huge box office hit that was followed by Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, which Disney distributed, and Monsters, Inc.

NEXT AND APPLE

In 1996 Apple purchased NeXT Software for over $400 million. Jobs returned to Apple as a part-time consultant to the chief executive officer (CEO).

In 1997 Jobs announced Apple would sell computers directly to users over the Internet and by telephone. The Apple Store became a runaway success. Within a week it was the third-largest e-commerce site on the Internet. In September of 1997 Jobs was named interim CEO of Apple.

”My philosophy is that everything starts with a great product. So, you know, I obviously believed in listening to customers, but customers can’t tell you about the next breakthrough that’s going to happen next year that’s going to change the whole industry. So you have to listen very carefully. But then you have to go and sort of stow away – you have to go hide away with people that really understand the technology, but also really care about the customers, and dream up this next breakthrough. And that’s my perspective that everything starts with a great product.”—Steve Jobs

NEW PRODUCTS

In 1998 Jobs announced the release of the iMac, which featured powerful computing at an affordable price. The iBook was unveiled in July 1999. This is a clam-shaped laptop that is available in bright colors. It includes Apple's AirPort, a computer version of the cordless phone that would allow the user to surf the Internet wirelessly. In January 2000 Jobs announced that he was becoming the permanent CEO of Apple.

In mid-2004, Jobs announced to his employees that he had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. Jobs underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy that appeared to successfully remove the tumor.

In recent years, Apple product releases have included the Macintosh line of personal computers and related peripherals, the iPod line of portable media players, the iPhone and the iPad.

Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads in nine months of 2010, two or three times as many as analysts had predicted. The company is expected to sell 30 million or more this year, which would generate close to $20 billion in sales.

On January 17, 2011, Apple announced that Jobs had been granted a medical leave of absence.

Apple unwrapped a sleeker iPad 2 on March 2, and Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco to a standing ovation.

Phil Robertson, Editor

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