Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and mind behind the company’s visionary products, passed away at the age of 56. (Oct. 5)
He knew best of all how to market: “Mac or PC?” became one of the defining questions of the late 20th century, and although Apple sold a mere 5 percent of all computers during that era, Mac users became rabid partisans.
Mr. Jobs was the first crossover technology star, turning Silicon Valley renown into Main Street recognition and paving the way for the rise of the nerds, such as Yahoo founders Jerry Yang and David Filo, and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
And by changing the way people interacted with technology, Jobs and Microsoft founder Bill Gates transformed their era in much the same way Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller revolutionized theirs with the mass-produced automobile and the creation of Standard Oil.
As a 21-year-old college dropout in 1976, Mr. Jobs founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak. He led the company to multimillion-dollar success within five years but was forced out by the time he was 30.
Mr. Jobs started another computer firm, Next, whose technology was used to create the World Wide Web. He later took over a foundering computer animation companyand turned it into the Academy Award-winning Pixar, maker of “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.”
Returning to Apple in his 40s, Mr. Jobs restored the company to profitability by paring down the product line and being a leader in innovation.
Known for his complex and combative temperament, Mr. Jobs was a private man. But in aJune 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, he talked openly about his pancreatic cancer, diagnosed in 2004, in a video that became an Internet sensation. He later became furious about speculation over his health in mid-2008, when he appeared in public looking gaunt. Later that year, he took a leave of absence from the company to have a liver transplant.
In January, he took another medical leave. On Aug. 24 he stepped down as Apple’s chief executive, becoming chairman of the board. Apple’s share price immediately dropped 5 percent on the news, but it rebounded the next day. “Steve Jobs running the company from jail would be better for the stock price than Steve Jobs not being CEO,” one stock analyst told Fortune magazine in early 2011.