Steve Jobs - The Passing of an American Innovator

Do you remember where you were when you heard that Steve Jobs died? This is the kind of question we ask when we learn that a celebrated, iconic figure has passed away or a remarkable ...

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“Do you remember where you were when you heard that Steve Jobs died?”—this is the kind of question we ask when we learn that a celebrated, iconic figure has passed away or a remarkable historic event has taken place.  For Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, multitudes will have learned of his death from an iPhone, an iPad, or an iMac, all remarkable and legendary technologies that he pioneered. 

Steve Jobs died on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 from complications resulting from a rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor that he was diagnosed with in 2004.  Subsequently, he underwent surgery and reported that he had been “cured”.  Then, after a noticeable weight loss and an abrupt six-month leave of absence in 2009, Jobs underwent a liver transplant.  In January 2011, he went on another medical leave for an unspecified period, but continued to serve as chief executive of Apple until August when he handed the job over to Tim Cook, his personally-selected successor.  In a letter to Apple's board and the "Apple community" Jobs wrote "I always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know.  Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Likened to a modern-day Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, the co-founder of the $65 billion industry leader, will long be remembered as one of the most visionary and influential figures in the history of world commerce.  Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said of Jobs, "The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come."  Responding to the news of his passing, President Barack Obama said that Jobs "exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity."

In 1976, Jobs and his high school friend, Steve Wozniak, started Apple Computer Inc. in Jobs’ parents’ garage.  By 1977 they had created the Apple II, one of the first mass-produced microcomputer products.  Its popularity soared, and by the time he was 25 Jobs was worth $100 million.

In 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh with a graphical user interface, useful for design, which eventually led to desktop publishing.  Then, in 1989 Jobs started NeXT Computer and built a powerful workstation computer on which the world’s first Web browser was created.  Its software is the foundation for the Macintosh and iPhone operating systems that we know today. 

Introduced in 1998, The iMac was responsible for reinvigorating Apple as a strong market competitor after foundering for several years.  Its design was strikingly innovative--the monitor and computer were enclosed in a bubble of transparent blue plastic—and it was easy to set up.  When it arrived on the market, it captivated the attention of consumers who were beginning to understand the benefits of accessing the Internet and were considering purchasing their first home computer.

From that time, Jobs continued to transcend his rivals and delight consumers by introducing one astounding, innovative product after another, revolutionizing not only computers, but the cell phone and music industries as well.

In 2001 Jobs launched the iPod, the first successful digital music player with a hard drive, affording its users enough space for 1,000 songs.  The iPod's success prepared the way for the iTunes music store in 2003, offering music tracks from all the major labels.  By 2008 iTunes became the largest music retailer in the U.S.

In 2007 came the touch-screen iPhone, an internet and multimedia-enabled smartphone, doing for phones what the Macintosh did for personal computers.  A year later, Apple introduced its App Store, offering iPhone "apps" that transformed a telephone into a versatile, multi-function device, not only for making and receiving calls, but for managing money, playing games, editing photos, engaging in social networking, and, more recently, remotely accessing an increasing number of electronic functions.  And in 2010, Jobs introduced the iPad, a brand new category of all-touch tablet computers that took the market by storm.  Today, Apple holds the distinction of being not only the world’s most profitable maker of phones, but also the second-largest company of any kind in the United States by market value. 

            Steve Jobs, the man responsible for bringing technology from a backyard garage to our back pockets, revolutionizing the way we communicate and access our entertainment and information, and creating whole new industries, from downloaded music and television shows to mobile apps, was also a man reputed for his remarkable wisdom.

At his Stanford University commencement address in June 2005, Jobs was quoted as saying:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry.  Stay foolish."

We, the glad beneficiaries of his munificence and genius, revel in the fact that Steve Jobs wholly lived his message with abandon long before he died.

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This Article was Written by Vickie Moller-Pepe.

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[Photo Credit to Apple.com]