The Steve Jobs Career Story

Thursday, August 25th 2011. | Software News

In a surprising turn of events, Apple on Wednesday announced the resignation of its CEO Steve Jobs, who had been on a medical leave of absence since January. Jobs will be replaced by longtime Apple exec Tim Cook, but is there an Apple without Steve Jobs? And how did he help propel Apple to such great heights? Jobs, a college dropout who started Apple Computer in his parents’ garage in 1976, turned the company into a multi-billion enterprise and amassed a personal fortune of $8.3 billion, according to the latest stats from Forbes. In December 2010, President Obama pointed to Jobs as an example of someone living the American dream. “We celebrate somebody like a Steve Jobs, who has created two or three different revolutionary products,” Obama said in response to a question about the divide between middle-class and wealthy Americans.

It was those middle-class and wealthy Americans who snapped up Apple products in droves – trolling the Web for tidbits about the company’s upcoming products and then waiting in long lines to get their hands on the newest iPhone or iPad. Journalists and fanboys alike waited with baited breath for Jobs’s famous “one more thing” announcement at the company’s press conferences, tweeting and live-blogging his every word. Jobs (temporarily) got the action figure treatment, a fake blog persona, and was known for his trademark uniform of black turtlenecks and jeans.

It wasn’t always that way, though.
In July 1976, the first device from Apple Computer, known as the Apple-1, was sold without a casing, power supply, keyboard or monitor, and cost about $700. It was notable because the motherboard was pre-assembled compared to the self-assembly kits available at the time. In November 2010, an Apple-1 in pristine condition sold for $213,600 at auction, but back in the day, Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak made about $20 each for every Apple-1 they sold, and they sold about 200 in total, according to a History Channel special on the duo.

Jobs and Wozniak had a bit more success with the second-generation Apple computer, the Apple II. With some funds from venture capitalist Arthur Rock, they built 1,000 machines at a local factory and unveiled the device at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1978. “My recollection is we stole the show, and a lot of dealers and distributors started lining up and we were off and running,” Jobs said in a 1996 interview with PBS. The company went public in 1980, and Jobs and Wozniak were millionaires. “I was worth about over a million dollars when I was 23 and over ten million dollars when I was 24, and over a hundred million dollars when I was 25 and … it wasn’t that important … because I never did it for the money,” Jobs told PBS.

After the Apple II came the Macintosh, but Jobs needed a more typical CEO to help run things. He poached Pepsi executive John Sculley in 1983 and the Mac launched on January 24, 1984 with a splashy ad campaign and an iconic commercial. But sales were not what Jobs had hoped they would be, and by 1985, Sculley convinced the Apple board to ditch Jobs. “He destroyed everything I spent ten years working for,” Jobs told PBS.

Jobs’ Next Big Adventure
Jobs went on to form NeXT Software, but it was never as successful as Apple. In the late 1980’s, Jobs pushed a NeXT-based computer that he imagined would land on the desk of every college student in America. When that didn’t happen, he turned his focus toward corporate America, introducing a $7,000 monochrome system that was defeated in the market by products from Sun and others. As PCMag said in a 1994 piece, “Jobs’s vaulting ambition and stunning egomania doomed him from day one.”

Despite the lackluster products, many people – from journalists to analysts to politicians – “were so easily captivated by Jobs’s unparalleled charisma,” PCMag said. By 1996, that charisma translated into a business deal, when Apple bought NeXT Software for $400 million and brought Jobs back into the fold. At the time, PCMag wondered if an Apple-NeXT system could compete against Microsoft’s Windows. In Jobs’s absence, Apple and Microsoft had been battling it out in court for years over copyright infringement issues; a fight Apple eventually lost. In that 1996 PBS interview, Jobs said that Microsoft had “absolutely no taste” and didn’t “think of original ideas.” The drama between Microsoft and Apple was even turned into a TV movie called “Pirates of Silicon Valley.” By September 1997, however, Jobs announced that Microsoft would invest $150 million in Apple.

During a 2007 joint-appearance at the “All Things D” conference with Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Jobs said the Microsoft deal came about because “there were too many people at Apple and in the Apple ecosystem playing the game of, for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. And it was clear that you didn’t have to play that game because Apple wasn’t going to beat Microsoft. Apple didn’t have to beat Microsoft. Apple had to remember who Apple was because they’d forgotten who Apple was.”

Apple’s Comeback?
When Jobs returned, Apple was largely considered to be flailing. By March 1998, however, PCMag published a story called “Apple’s Comeback,” pointing to strong sales of its G3 processor and new software titles coming out of the Microsoft deal. That year also saw the unveiling of the popular iMac personal computer, and when Apple debuted the multi-colored, next-generation iMacs the following year, it reportedly sold one system every 15 seconds. The following decade, however, saw Apple branch out and apply its computing knowledge to everything from personal music players to phones and tablets, vaulting Apple and Jobs to tech geek icon status. The iPod made its debut in 2001. “The 5GB Apple iPod MP3 player is so cool, you just might run out and buy a Mac,” PCMag said at the time. When Jobs appeared to give a keynote at the 2002 Macworld in New York City, it was “part rock concert and part fireworks display,” PCMag said. “Jobs’ entrance was met with thunderous applause, whistling, and feet stomping; new products inspired ooohs and ahhhs.” He introduced a Windows version of the iPod and the latest version of Mac OS X at the time, known as Jaguar.

Med Job Network

Related For The Steve Jobs Career Story