Thursday, December 1, 2011

Steve Jobs – 1955-2011 – RIP

This was to be my Nov.'11 Blog message, however some how it never got published. But here it is now...

I was never a fan of Apple, but I must say that the death of Steve Jobs on Oct. 5th at the age of 56 gave me pause. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a visionary.  It is amazing to look back on his life in the technology arena.

In 1974 Jobs worked for video game maker Atari and attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Wozniak, a high school friend. Two years later they formed Apple Computer operating out of a Silicon Valley garage and the Apple I computer went on sale by the summer for $666.66.

In 1977 Apple was incorporated and they unveiled the Apple II, the first personal computer to generate color graphics. In  1980 Apple went public, raising $110 million and in 1982 annual revenue climbed to $1 billion.

In 1983, the Lisa computer (named after his daughter) went on sale with much fanfare, only to be pulled two years later. Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsico Inc. to serve as Apple's CEO. And in 1984 the Iconic "1984" Macintosh commercial directed by Ridley  Scott airs during the Super Bowl. The Macintosh computer goes on sale.

In 1985 Jobs and Sculley clashed, leading to Jobs' resignation and Steve Wozniak also resigns from Apple that year.

In 1986 Jobs started Next Inc., a new computer company making high-end machines for universities. He also bought Pixar from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas for $10 million. In 1989 the first NeXT computer went on sale with a $6,500 price tag.

In 1991 Apple and IBM Corp. announce an alliance to develop new PC microprocessors and software amd Apple unveiled a portable Mac called PowerBook. In 1993 Apple introduced the Newton, a hand-held, pen-based computer. The company reported a quarterly loss of $188 million in July and Sculley was replaced as CEO.  

In 1994 Apple introduced Power Macintosh computers based on the PowerPC chip it developed with IBM and Motorola. Apple decided to license its operating software and allow other companies to "clone" the Mac, adopting the model championed by Microsoft Corp and in 1995 the first Mac clones went on sale. Microsoft releases Windows 95, which is easier to use than previous versions and is more like the Mac system. Apple struggles with competition, parts shortages and mistakes predicting customer demand. Pixar's "Toy Story," the first commercial computer-animated feature, hits theaters. Pixar goes to Wall Street with an IPO that raises $140 million.

In 1996 Apple announced plans to buy Next for $430 million for the operating system Jobs' team developed. Jobs is appointed an adviser to Apple and the next year Jobs becomes "interim" CEO. He foreshadows the marketing hook for a new product line by calling himself "iCEO." Jobs puts an end to Mac clones.

1998 saw Apple return to profitability and shakes up personal computer industry with the candy-colored, all-in-one iMac desktop, the original models shaped like a futuristic TV. In 2000, Apple removes "interim" label from Jobs' CEO title.

Apple then went on a tear: 2001saw the first iPod goes on sale, as do computers with OS X, the modern Mac operating system based on Next software. Apple also releases iTunes software. And in 2003 Apple launched the iTunes Music Store with 200,000 songs at 99 cents each, giving people a convenient way to buy music legally online. It sells 1 million songs in the first week.

In 2004 Jobs underwnets surgery for a rare but curable form of pancreatic cancer; Apple discloses his illness after the fact.

In 2005 Apple expands the iPod line with the tiny Nano and an iPod that can play video. The company also announces that future Macs will use Intel chips.  In 2006 Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion making Jobs Disney's largest individual shareholder.

In 2007 Apple released its first smartphone, the iPhone. Crowds camp overnight at stores to be one of the first to own the new device.

2008: Speculation mounts that Jobs is ill, given weight loss and in September he kicked off an Apple event and says, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," making a play off a famous Mark Twain quote after Bloomberg News accidentally publishes, then retracts, an obituary that it had prepared in advance.

In 2009 Jobs explained his severe weight loss by saying he had a treatable hormone imbalance and that he will continue to run Apple. Days later he backtracks and announces he will be on medical leave. He returned to work in June and later it is learned that he had received a liver transplant.

In 2010 Apple sold 15 million of its newest gadget, the iPad, in nine months, giving rise to a new category of modern touch-screen tablet computers.

On Jan. 17, 2011 in a memo to Apple employees, Jobs announced a second medical leave with no set duration but Jobs retained his CEO title and remains involved in major decisions.

On Aug. 24 Apple announces that Jobs is resigning as CEO and named Jobs chairman.

On Oct. 5, 2011 Steve Jobs died at the age of 56; Apple announced his death without giving a specific cause.

Looking back, I am in awe of the technological accomplishments made at Apple under Steve Jobs leadership.

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