eWEEK at 30: Steve Jobs Returns in 1997 to Revive a Moribund Apple

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2013-11-08 Print this article Print

Meanwhile, Apple again went outside to hire former National Semiconductor CEO Gil Amelio to replace Spindler in 1996. However, Amelio wasn't able to restore Apple's fortunes, and perhaps his biggest contribution to the company was championing the acquisition of Job's second computer company, NeXT, for $425 million in February 1997, bringing Jobs back to Apple.

NeXT's intellectual property became the basis for the iMac desktop computer. When the Apple board finally came to its senses later that year and convinced Jobs to return as CEO and giving him the authority to run the company as he saw fit, the fortunes of the company changed for the better.

Jobs obtained an infusion of cash from Microsoft and other investors. He led development of the iMac with its landmark transparent PC casing design in multiple colors. He also started development on more connected products, such as the iPod and iPhone. Then he starting thinking about more ways for Apple to make money on the Internet.

Amid Turmoil, Core Apple Staff Held Fast

During the 12-year period when Jobs was away, and amid all the chief executive changes and the requisite department reformations, product decisions and business indecisions, a core group of dedicated Apple staff members remained. They had longed for the days of old, when there was clear direction from the top, a shared corporate vision and a similar operational style. None of those characteristics were evident in the 12 Jobs-less years, according to several sources contacted by eWEEK.

"We all were looking for the 'God particle,' so to speak, in the new leadership that came and went," a longtime Apple department manager, who asked not to be identified by name for this article, told eWEEK. "None of them had anything close to it. To be fair, not too many people have it."

"It was a miracle that we were able to evolve the brand in the face of that tumult," the manager, who worked at Apple from 1984 to 1997 and saw Jobs leave and return, said.

"Steve was really good at bringing out the best in people, in getting them to reach beyond what they even knew they could do."

Jobs, who brought that "God particle" back to Cupertino headquarters, stayed on as CEO until the summer of 2011, when he turned the job over to a fellow longtime Apple exec, Tim Cook.

Jobs died on Oct 5, 2011, at age 56 as a result of complications from pancreatic cancer, taking his "God particle" talent and determination with him. But before he left the scene permanently, he led development of Apple's now-iconic wireless devices along with iTunes, the App Store and numerous other successful products and services that are now part of the business and cultural legend that is Apple.



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