Even as details begin to eke out from the notoriously secretive Apple, no one could avoid the fact of the matter. Steve Jobs, one of the most prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs the world over, had passed away late Wednesday, according to statements offered by his family and Apple. Reasons weren’t clear, but it is heavily suspected that he had succumbed, too soon, to the pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with in 2004.
Yet, let’s not dwell on his death and instead celebrate his legacy. Jobs, who only had a single semester of college under his belt, built Apple in his garage with an old friend, Steve Wozniak. Banking on ease of use and mass production, Apple grew from those frugal beginnings to become a front runner in the computer market, a market which they had helped start.
Jobs convinced Pepsi-Cola CEO John Sculley to lead Apple in 1983, and saw the launch of the Mac the following year. The Mac, which was the first commercially successful computer to allow the user to interact with it via graphical representations in lieu of just text, took off at a pace never seen before.
But, like most great stories, it wouldn’t be all about success. Jobs, who was leading the Mac division, felt the brunt of the 1984 slump, and this only made his relationship with Sculley worse. These issues grew until mid-1985, when Sculley took over the division and Jobs was left out, kicked out of the company he had started.
Of course, that didn’t deter him in the slightest. Jobs would go on to make NeXT computers, developing competing software to go against his former company. However, most of us will remember him for setting up a small computer graphics production company in 1986, a little entity known as Pixar, which is today the marquee animation studio.
Jobs’ NeXT would eventually prove big enough that it would be bought out by none other than his former company, Apple. In 1996 the merge was finalized, bringing Steve and his obsession with aesthetics back to the company he had such a big hand in as interim CEO. This time, he had better business acumen and a better idea of how to get back into the fold of customers. He cut several confusing computer lines and changed the operating system to disallow clones. By 2000, he was the CEO; no interim about it.
This wasn’t the end though. In 2001, he singlehandedly changed music forever with the release of the iPod, quickly making music CDs irrelevant. With the accompanying iTunes store, labels suddenly had a way to sell their songs online. I don’t believe I need to expand on the success of the iPod, but suffice to say that over 297,000,000 of the devices have been sold at the time of this writing. In 2007, the iPhone came along, having a similar effect on the telecoms industry. No matter what he touched, Jobs and his nigh-fanatical eye for the “intersection of art and technology” proved that he knew what people wanted even more than they did.
By now, Apple has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Hundreds of millions of Apple products have been sold thus far and the company is known as much for its sleek design as its high quality products it churns out. This is Jobs legacy. So don’t focus on the end. Focus on the fact that a good number of you read about Jobs’ sad departure on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and remember how Jobs created one of the most innovative companies ever to exist in the United States.