One of the legendary Silicon Valley visionaries who revolutionized the tech landscape, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Inc., redefining the world's relationship with computers and technology. After being ousted from Apple in 1985, Jobs founded a new computer company, NeXT, which Apple acquired in 1996. He also served as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, whose success creating critical and commercial blockbuster animated films, including "Toy Story" (1995), "A Bug's Life" (1998) and "Finding Nemo" (2003), led to Disney purchasing it in 2006 and Jobs becoming the Mouse House's largest single shareholder. Returning to Apple in triumph in 1996, Jobs took over as its full-fledged CEO in 1997, a position he held until 2011. Famous for his temperamental nature as well as the amazing results he demanded, Jobs' larger-than-life personality and success made him a legendary and controversial figure. Determined to continually perfect Apple products like iTunes and the iPod, iPhone and iPad, especially in terms of building a brand loyalty exemplified by the company's blend of functional elegance and high-end design, Jobs was the ultimate ambassador for the company and its lifestyle. Plagued by ill health brought on by pancreatic cancer, Jobs underwent a liver transplant and subsequent treatment but died on Oct. 5, 2011. Glowing tributes from around the world acknowledged his place among the all-time great innovators like Thomas Edison, and his legacy lived on at the fingertips of millions around the world.
Born Feb. 24, 1955 in San Francisco, CA, Steven Paul Jobs was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs when his biological parents, Abdulfattah John Jandali and Joanne Simpson, gave him up. (The two would later marry and give birth to a daughter, novelist Mona Simpson, although Jandali would soon abandon the family for good. Simpson would not discover that she had a brother until she was an adult). Highly intelligent but chafing at the discipline required for school, Jobs dropped out of Reed College after one semester. He had a genius for technology, however, and began working at Atari before quitting to focus on Buddhist spirituality, a pilgrimage to India and psychedelic drugs. Upon returning to his position at Atari, he was tasked with creating a new circuit board for the game "Breakout," a challenge he farmed out to fellow computer genius and longtime friend Steve Wozniak, whom he had met when the two were summer employees at Hewlett-Packard and had later both become members of the Silicon Valley Homebrew Computer Club.
While Wozniak proved his amazing ability by acing the circuit board challenge, Jobs revealed a duel nature: his ability to get amazing results was shadowed by his willingness to take advantage of a friend by shorting him the subsequent prize money. The two remained on good terms, however, and in 1976, Jobs convinced Wozniak to create a new computer, the Apple II, and the two joined with Ronald Wayne to found Apple. Showing the business acumen and ruthlessness that would define him, Jobs first recruited Mike Scott from National Semiconductor to serve as Apple's CEO, and then replaced him with John Sculley, whom he lured away from Pepsi. The iconoclastic nature of Apple and its products was most evident with its iconic Super Bowl commercial "1984," which depicted the company as a bastion of independence and cutting-edge vision. The introduction of the Macintosh revolutionized the home computer industry, and it became the first commercially successful graphics-based home computer. Although Jobs was a passionate and unswerving ambassador for all things Apple, he could also be temperamental. His difficult-at-times nature, coupled with a sales slump, resulted in his dismissal from the company in 1985.
Jobs founded another company, NeXT Computer, which provided an incredibly sophisticated but cost-prohibitive workstation. In many ways, his work with the company exemplified some of his greatest strengths, including a focus on aesthetics and elegance rarely associated with home computers. In 1986, Jobs inked a deal with Lucasfilm to buy The Graphics Group (later known as Pixar) for $10 million. Originally intended to sell the Pixar Image Computer and similar graphics hardware, the company eventually contracted with Disney to make use of its own technology to create computer-animated films. In a happy ending straight out of Hollywood, Pixar become an unparalleled critical and commercial powerhouse, spinning out smashes including "Toy Story" (1995), "A Bug's Life" (1998), "Toy Story 2" (1999), "Monsters, Inc." (2001), "Cars" (2006), "Cars 2" (2011) and the Oscar-winning favorites "Finding Nemo" (2003), "The Incredibles" (2004), "Ratatouille" (2007), "WALL-E" (2008), "Up" (2009) and "Toy Story 3" (2010).
So valuable and beloved was the Pixar shingle that when Jobs announced in 2004 that the company would seek a new distribution partner once its Disney contract ran out, new Disney chief executive Bob Iger purchased Pixar two years later for $7.4 billion dollars. The deal multiplied Jobs's power exponentially, making him The Walt Disney Company's largest single shareholder and landing a seat on the company's board of directors. In the meantime, Jobs's portfolio and profile had received an immense boost when, in 1996, Apple announced they would buy NeXT for $429 million. Returning to the Apple fold, Jobs became de facto chief after the ouster of Gil Amelio and was formally named interim CEO in 1997. Fearlessly slashing budgets and projects to help the company escape its slump, Jobs's willingness to terminate employees added to his growing legend and made him an almost frightening figure in certain circles. His methods worked, however, and with such developments as Mac OS X and the iMac, Apple sales soared, in great part due to his insistence on sleek product designs and lifestyle branding.
The company's rise continued with the rampant, industry-changing successes of the iTunes, the iPod, iPhone and iPad, which continued to improve on Jobs's vision for Apple to become synonymous with intuitive elegance in both design and usage. A world-class ambassador for the Apple lifestyle and company, Jobs frequently delivered keynote speeches that were widely covered in the mainstream media and the full force of his personality, both negative and positive, was considered a major factor in Apple's success in redefining the industry. As reports continued to increase of his health problems, Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple in August 2011 to remain as chairman of the board, but the news revealed just how closely tied he was with consumer confidence: shares of Apple and The Walt Disney Company both dropped slightly on the day of the announcement. Although he only earned $1 per year in the CEO driver's seat, Jobs's shares in both companies helped him notch an estimated $8.3 billion in 2010.
More than just a charismatic leader, Jobs's demanding, aggressive personality and subsequently amazing results helped him achieve near-legendary status, spawning multiple articles, books and colorful quotes from colleagues, co-workers and competitors alike. Reports of his ill health seemed at odds with such a larger-than-life persona, but in 2004 he revealed to employees that he had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. He returned after treatments, but his appearance and demeanor at his 2006 keynote speech sparked rumors that his health was still on a downswing, which only gained momentum with his 2008 keynote speech. Although Apple spokespeople denied Jobs was in any danger, the flames were fanned further on Aug. 28, 2008, when Bloomberg accidentally published its obituary of Jobs. Although the mistake was quickly corrected, the morbid coincidence struck many as perhaps prophetic, and Jobs's decision not to deliver the 2009 keynote speech sent warning shocks through the industry.
He announced a six-month leave of absence that year to focus on his health, and underwent a liver transplant. After returning to work, Jobs lasted just a year and a half before taking another medical leave of absence. Although he made several appearances on behalf of Apple, Jobs announced his resignation as CEO on Aug. 24, 2011. On Oct. 5, 2011, Steve Jobs died, spurring a public outpouring of grief across the world. Apple's corporate website featured a tribute that read, "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple." Additional tributes from everyone from President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Walt Disney Company's Bob Iger soon followed. Named the CEO of the decade by Fortune magazine, awarded a slew of honors as well as pop culture immortality, and regarded as a modern-day Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs left behind a vibrant legacy in the form of Apple's world-changing ethos and products, blending functionality with high-end design: a legacy at the fingertips of practically every human being on Earth.
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Producer (Feature Film)
Built first computer with Steve Wozniak named Apple I at his parents' garage; computer sold for $666.66 retail
Along with Wozniak, introduced the Apple II computer at the inaugural West Coast Computer Faire
Took the company public, making Jobs a multimillionaire
Famously convinced PepsiCo executive John Sculley to become Apple CEO by asking: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?"
Apple made advertising history with an Orwellian-themed, Super Bowl commercial directed by Ridley Scott that introduced the Mac computer
Ousted by Sculley and Apple's board of directors; created a new company, NeXT Computer
Purchased the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm called The Graphics Group for $10 million; renamed it Pixar
Pixar released the blockbuster animated feature "Toy Story"; Jobs executive produced film
Gil Amelio, who took over the CEO spot from Sculley three years earlier, purchased NeXT for $429 million
After Amelio's departure, Jobs named interim CEO of Apple
Introduced the desktop computer iMac
Named permanent CEO of Apple
Apple introduced the portable music player called the iPod
Launched digital music service iTunes
Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion; named a board of director of The Walt Disney Company
Revolutionized mobile phone technology with the introduction of the iPhone
Apple introduced the multimedia tablet called the iPad
Apple surpassed Exxon Mobil as the world's most valuable company
Relinquished CEO title to Tim Cook due to his failing health; assumed role of Apple chairman of the board
Announced as the recipient of a Grammy Special Merit Award by the Recording Industry Association; awarded posthumously