Apple co-founder and two-time CEO Steve Jobs, recognized around the world as one of the most successful innovators in the history of American business, died Oct. 5 as the result of an eight-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.
Ironically, Jobs passed away less than 24 hours after the announcement of yet another new Apple product, the iPhone 4S. He is survived by his wife, Laurene, and three grown children.
Jobs and partner Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1977 and in the span of one generation changed the way the world uses personal information. He was a famous micro-manager with big ideas that resonated around the world and back millions of times.
Jobs was involved in every aspect of all of Apple's products, from early development to finishing touches. His personality permeated every part of Apple.
In almost an homage to Jobs' ability and dedication, Apple was recently recognized as the most valuable IT company and the second most valuable company in the world at $351 billion, ranking over GE, Microsoft, IBM and Hewlett-Packard and trailing only Exxon Mobile.
Jobs had left Apple for 11 years (from 1985 to 1996) after being fired by his own board of directors following a long internal battle. In the interim, he learned more about how to be a CEO and went on to work on other projects, including NeXT Computer and Pixar Animation Studios.
By the time he returned in 1996, Apple was nearly bankrupt. Sun Microsystems, now absorbed by Oracle but then in its heyday, was very close to announcing the purchase of the company, but legal red tape held up the deal and it was never consummated. (For more detail on this, read the Feb. 25, 2011 eWEEK article "How Apple Dodged a Sun Buyout: Former Execs McNealy, Zander Tell All.")
Over the next 15 years, Jobs then led the company out of the wilderness with the iMac, followed by the iPod, iPod Touch, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. The rest is business and cultural history.
Jobs revealed a great deal about his background and outlook on life -- and death -- in his June 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. Here is a YouTube video, provided by Stanford, of that 14-minute speech.
Jobs, who had been in failing health since being diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and undergoing a liver transplant in 2009, stepped down as CEO Aug. 24. COO Tim Cook took his place as CEO.
In a move that truly is a sign of the on-demand times, Wikipedia, within minutes of Jobs' death, had updated its Steve Jobs page.
The statement issued by Apple's board of directors was issued late in the afternoon:
"We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts."
Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman and CEO of DreamWorks, described Jobs as "the Thomas Edison of our time. And in the way that Edison affected so many businesses, so did Steve Jobs."
Jobs directly helped change not only the PC business (Macintosh, iPad), but also the music (iPod, iTunes), smartphone (iPhone), movie (Pixar) and online retail (App Store) businesses as well.