Among other things, he gave us:
- 1977: Apple II – the first successful mass-market personal computer
- 1984: Macintosh – the first mass-market computer with a graphical user interface
- 1995: “Toy Story” – the first hit film made completely by computer
- 2001: iPod – MP3 music player
- 2003: iTunes – digital music sold online
- 2007: iPhone – smartphone
- 2010: iPad – tablet computer
Jobs did not invent the MP3 player or the personal computer or any of it. Instead he took what he saw in computer labs and turned it into something cool and easy to use and priced for the middle-class.
He saw computers from the inside like an engineer and from the outside like the rest of us. Surprisingly few can. He understood the value of industrial design. He could attract, keep and lead top talent. His marketing judgement was better than any focus group, though sometimes he was ahead of his time.
He once said Bill Gates would have been
a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.
Jobs did both. He even learned calligraphy, which seemed completely useless at the time but would later help him to design the Mac.
Jobs’s birth parents were students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His father, Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, was from Syria. He wanted to marry his American girlfriend but her father was against it, so they went to San Francisco to put Jobs up for adoption. They later did marry and had a daughter, the writer Mona Simpson.
Jobs grew up in San Francisco and its southern suburbs, which he would later help turn into Silicon Valley. Apple is just down the road from his old high school.
In 1967 at age 12 he saw one of the world’s first desktop computers: a neighbour worked at HP and had taken Jobs under his wing.
In 1974 he worked at Atari for a while and travelled to India, where he begged and became a follower of guru Neem Karoli Baba. (Jobs was a Zen Buddhist.)
On April Fool’s Day 1976 he started Apple in his parents’s garage. There he and his friend Steve Wozniak made the first Apple computers. Six years later at age 26 he was worth $149 million (66 million crowns). He modelled himself after Edwin H. Land, inventor of the instant camera.
In 1979 Jobs visited Xerox PARC where Xerox was designing the Alto, a computer for the 1980s that would be easy enough for secretaries to use. Jobs was completely blown away. That became the beginning of the Mac, which he modelled on the Alto.
Since 2004 Jobs has been fighting cancer on and off. In August 2011 he became too sick to work any more. Two months later he was dead:
We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know?