AutoTribute is for all intent and purposes exclusively automotive, and it isn’t everyday that we cover developments in the tech-industry. However, with Apple having announced that its inspiring Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56, we knew that this affected more than the tech industry. The grand visionary that he was, Jobs changed the way we live — the fruit of his work transcends all industries. It is for this reason that we pay tribute to the crazy one, a man who dared try and succeeded in doing so.
Birth of a Visionary
Jobs was born out of wedlock in San Francisco to a Syrian Muslim immigrant father, Abdulfattah John Jandali, and American, Joanne Schieble (nee Simpson). His biological parents gave him up for adoption, with Jandali claiming that Simpson’s parents did not approve of her marrying a Syrian. Job’s new parents Paul Jobs and Clara Jobs raised him in the apricot orchards of California, which would later become known as Silicon Valley.
A College Dropout
After high school, Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon for one semester in 1972 before dropping out. He still continued visiting classes at Reed, while sleeping on the floor in friends’ rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple. Jobs later said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”
Jobs met Steven Wozniak in high school, and they soon became good friends. He would later attend Wozniak’s “Homebrew Computer Club,” helping strengthen a friendship that would eventually lead to the beginning of Apple.
Jobs, Wozniak and a third-party, Ronald Wayne (who soon gave up his share of the new company for a total of $2,300), teamed-up in 1976 to sell personal computers assembled in Jobs’ garage. To get things going, the aspiring entrepreneurs sold off their most valuable possessions. This determination assured the beginning of Apple Computers, which would later revolutionized the computing industry and made both Jobs and Wozniak multimillionaires at very young ages.
In 1984, Apple rolled out the Macintosh, the first personal computer driven by a graphical user interface and the first commercially successful. But this success wouldn’t last.
An industry-wide sales slump towards the end of 1984 caused a deterioration in Jobs’ working relationship with Apple’s then CEO Sculley. At the end of May 1985, he was relieved of his duties as head of Apple’s Mac division amist a significant layoff at the company.
Job’s exist from Apple would lead him to start a new company called NeXT. While the hardware side of the company’s products did not pan out too well, the software would eventually become the basis for Apple’s OS X, which runs today’s Macs, iPhones, and iPods.
Reflecting on his off-time from Apply, Jobs would later claim that being fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him, stating “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
Steve’s first hit of the 90s wasn’t a computer, but a movie. He bought Pixar, an animation studio, from George Lucas in 1986. The studio’s 1995 movie, Toy Story, started Pixar’s streak of box-office hits. Pixar’s IPO added a billion to Steve’s net worth. Even so, it would be Apples purchase of NeXT in 1996 would pave the way for the Job’s return to the company he helped start.
Upon his return to Apple, Steve assumed the role as CEO and set out to reorganize the company, terminating several unpromising projects and, over the following year, integrating NeXT’s technologies with Apple’s products. A year after his return, Apple changed its slogan to “Think Different”, a reflection of Job’s uncanny ability to look at things differently.
In 1998, Jobs introduced the iMac, Apple’s Internet-focused computer that shipped without a floppy drive, but rather was the first computer to use a USB. This was only the beginning of things to come; as innovative as the iMac was, Jobs’ biggest game-changer was the iPod. Not only did it help Apple dominate the portable music players, it helped totally shake-up the music business.
The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 cemented Jobs’ reputation as a visionary and great business leader. Perhaps the best part of the iPhone’s introduction was when he prank called a Starbucks while showing off the phone’s Maps app. “I’d like to order 4,000 lattes to go, please. No, just kidding — wrong number.”
Of course, Jobs’ dominance didn’t end with the iPhone. With the introduction of the iPad in 2010, he demonstrated that Apple was more than a two-trick pony. As an inexpensive tablet computer, the iPad made tablets cool and demonstrated their true potential. His products had such an impact that they transcended industries. In the automotive world, many consumers have come to judge the intrinsic value of their cars based on how well they accommodate the iPad and iPhone. Moreover, automakers were inspired to pushed towards more user friendly interfaces for vehicle controls. Some went as far as to mimic Apple’s product design — aesthetically and functionally. Such was the prominence gained by Apple products.
As a visionary and leader, Job’s was consistent. The iPad would likely not have been his last innovation. But, alas, fate dictated him a short life.
The End of an Era
In mid-2004, Jobs announced to his employees that he had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. Initially taken lightly, the disease would eventually worsen, resulting in Jobs taking several medical leaves from his work Apple. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal cancers, and the disease took an unrecoupable tole on this body. Jobs died at his home on October 5, 2011.
Job’s death by no means marks the end of his contributions, which will live on forever in the simplicity of our technology and the way we use them. He arguably had more influence on technology in today’s cars than any other single man in recent times, making him — in a sense — the Henry Ford of his time. Although he had his critics, he is admired and respected by most.
When Apple’s original 1997 ad “The Crazy Ones” was redone with Steve Jobs as it’s narrator, Steve was unknowingly describing his future self. Indeed, Steve was the man who was crazy enough to think he could change the world, and he did:
The misfit. The rebel. The troublemaker. The round peg in the square hole.
The One Who Saw Things Differently.
He wasn’t fond of rules. And he had no respect for the status quo.
You can quote him, disagree with him, glorify or vilify him. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore him. Because he changed things.
He pushed the human race forward. And while some may have seen him as the crazy one, we saw genius.
Because the man who was crazy enough to think he could change the world, was the one who did.
Stay foolish. Stay hungry.