Jobs Leaves The Job - The End of an Era
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written by Josh:
August 24, 2011
The technology world breaths a collective sigh today as Steven P. Jobs, announces his resignation from his position as CEO of Apple Inc.
“I have 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.” Jobs wrote in an open letter to the Board.
Steve Jobs is considered by many to be the single most important figure in the entire technology industry, Apple, the company to watch.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple back in the late seventies with the release of the Apple I, built and designed by Steve Wozniak, marketed and sold by Jobs from the garage of Jobs’ parents in Silicon Valley, California, or what was then Santa Clara Valley. Although the Apple I wasn’t nearly as successful as the two had hoped, it didn’t deter them from pursing their next product that would be a hit, the Apple II. The Apple II is seen by many as the product that really gave birth to the era of personal computing (prior to the legendary Macintosh) back in the days where computers filled entire rooms and were an enterprise-only solution. The Apple II brought fame and attention (not to mention considerable wealth) to Jobs, Wozniak, and the Apple name.
Apple became a public company in 1980. Four years later, in 1984, the two Steve’s would go on to release the international phenomenon that was the Macintosh. Not only did it build on the success of the Apple II, but brought in a whole new era of personal computing. It was (in its time) an elegant beige box that looked like a piece of art on a desk. It was an all-in-one machine (a design that Apple continues to capitalize on today with the iMac) that made owning a personal computer appealing, sexy even.
As successful as it was, however, by the end of the eighties and into the early nineties, the Macintosh had lost its steam, its appeal, and its customers. During a time when Microsoft was just dipping its toes into the world of personal computing with its Windows operating system, Apple loyalists were jumping ship, ditching their old Apple II’s and Macintosh’s (note that they hadn’t yet adopted the shortened “Mac” name).
In 1983, Jobs had persuaded John Sculley, then-CEO of Pepsi to come and run Apple, with his famous line, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" Needless to say, Sculley jumped at the chance and began work at Apple. Unfortunately, however, by 1985, Sculley’s ideas differed from Jobs’ and the board sided with Sculley, removing Jobs from his position at the head of the Macintosh division.
In his absence from Apple, Jobs not only found success in computing, but also in the theater – the digital arts theater, that is. While no longer bound to daily duties at Apple, Jobs bought and developed the graphic arts division of Lucasfilm (now known as Pixar) in 1986 which, nine years later, would go on to produce the smash-hit Toy Story. Jobs made a fortune (to add to his already substantial wealth) in 1995 when Pixar went public. In 1996, Jobs would sell Pixar to Disney, earning him a seat (which he still holds) on Disney’s board.
With Pixar off of his hands, Jobs set his sights back on Apple. While developing Pixar, Jobs had also founded and started up a smaller company, NeXT, whose goal was to produce the computer that Jobs had been dreaming of before being terminated by Apple. Although NeXT never came close to competing with Apple, Jobs used it as leverage to gain entrance onto the ship that had pushed him off the plank.
By 1996, Apple was in ruins in a state of total decay. Many of the loyal Apple followers had ditched the old Macintosh for the Windows machines, running the newly minted Windows 95 software (remember that?). Apple hadn’t put out a successful product in years and with its stocks in the toilet, was on the brink of collapse. Jobs was able to convince then-CEO Gil Amelio to adopt the technologies he’d developed at NeXT as the foundations for the future of the Mac operating systems.
Soon, Jobs was back at the helm and the Apple ship was back, steering away from the iceberg that would have turned it into the next Titanic. 1997 would mark Jobs’ first year back as CEO of Apple. One year later, in 1998, Steve Jobs and his team released the original iMac, a ground breaking, show-stopping (bondi blue) new product that immediately pulled attention away from Microsoft and its new Windows 98 operating system (the successor to Windows 95). The iMac was a hit and despite skepticism, Jobs and Apple were back -- to stay.
Apple wouldn’t have reached such success without the man who would become known by many as one of the world’s best businessmen. Steve Jobs was known by those he worked with to inspire both perseverance and fear. His skill as both a businessman and salesman gained him fame around the world (not to mention his signature look: the black turtleneck, Levi blue jeans, and New Balance walking shoes). Anyone who’s seen an Apple keynote knows of his legendary stage presence and ability to incite suspense, anticipation, and excitement for a new product. Some have gone as far as to say that if Steve Jobs raved about the benefits of ingesting poison, many would follow.
But it’s not just the skills as a businessman and salesman that put Apple and its CEO on the map. Jobs’ inner passion as an artist led Apple to design and ship devices that could very well be pieces of modern art. The all-aluminum and glass designs of the current line of Mac computers (not to mention the iPod, iPhone, and iPad) are proof of this. In fact, without Jobs’ focus on perfecting every last detail, producing products to the highest standard of elegance and simplicity in design and interface, many believe Apple would never have even gotten out of Jobs’ Silicon Valley garage.
Apple, without a doubt, is responsible for the technological foundations of the modern day, as we know it. In the early two thousands, Jobs was responsible for the evolution of the music industry with the iPod. In 2007, Apple would enter and revolutionize the mobile computing world with the iPhone (essentially knocking the Palm Treo out of the game and dealing a huge blow to BlackBerry's market share). In 2010, Apple introduced tablet computing to the world with the iPad, building on the successes of both the iPhone and the Mac.
It's hard to believe that in the short ten years from 200, Apple has grown to become the most valuable company in the world and the most admired as well. It's hard to believe that it's only been ten years since the first iPod launched, ten years since Apple opened up its first retail store, and ten years since Mac OS-X was unleashed on the world.
Imagine the world without any of the above. Although they may not seem so significant in a world now saturated with competitors, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad have truly changed the world, as we know it. Imagine if we were all still using Palm Treo and BlackBerry smartphones. Imagine how fewer people would be using smartphones. Imagine if there was no Mac OS-X. The Windows operating system would definitely look a lot different. Although Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS-X are competing products, it’s no secret that OS-X pushed Windows to make some of the improvements to its usability, not to mention elegance in design.
In his letter, Jobs states that “Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.” The world can only look on to the hazy horizons of the future to see what Jobs and company are cooking up in the highly guarded, secret labs of the Apple Campus.
As we say farewell to the Steve Jobs era of Apple, we also welcome in a new era of Apple, with Apple's now-former Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, succeeding him as CEO. But fear not, for the man is not fading out entirely into his retirement. Apple has confirmed that he will stay on as Chairman of the Board, Director, and Apple employee.
Jobs closes his letter with a short sentiment to the Board and the vast team of Apple employees, “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”
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