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Steve Jobs - taking a look back

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's chief executive, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.” This was the statement which was released a mere six weeks ago.

His death comes two days after the launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S, which showcases just how much can be done with a bit of creative thinking and the attitude to make it happen. Here is some of Steve Jobs’ finest moments in his career.

1. Jobs founds Apple - 1976

What were you doing in your early 20s? Most of it involved a beanbag, right? Not for Steve Jobs. Born in 1955, by 1976 he teamed up with his friend, handily a computer genius, Steve Wozniak and founded a new computer company, called Apple. By 1980 it had become the biggest stock market launch since Ford in the 50s.

2. What he wants, he gets - 1983

After a couple of turbulent years, Jobs was in need of a new experienced exec to become president of Apple, and so lured John Sculley, then president of PepsiCo, to his company with the immortal words: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” After throwing in a desk tidy and use of the executive washroom, we imagine, he accepted.

3. Jobs proves he’s bigger than Apple – 1985

A sales slump of 1984 and Jobs’ lack of business acumen caused tensions within Apple that led to a falling out with Sculley, as Jobs quit. Did he get a part time gig in a burger bar? Go on the dole? No, instead he bought a fledgling computer company called Pixar (which after Toy Story in 1995 made him worth $1.5 billion) and founded NeXT, which Apple bought for $400 million, bringing Jobs back in the game. Show off.

4. The prodigal son returns - 1997

As Apple’s new Interim CEO, Jobs immediately terminated Newton, Cyberdog and OpenDoc. Employees fear meeting him in case they are fired. But guess who was recruited? Yes, the British design wizard Jonathan Ive. The partnership caused aesthetic alchemy, and the pair began work on the most beautiful gadgets the world has ever seen.

5. iMac G3 being the first one… - 1998

In 1998, to take a computer and make it cool, to make it actually sexy, a design classic was no easy feat. The fully integrated computer with the funky transparent casing was the first computer to exclusively offer USB ports as standard and sold 800,000 in five months. Apple made a profit and by 2011 it would become richer than the USA. Not bad.

6. 1000 songs in your pocket – 2001

In 2001 all eyes were on the chubby little portable white box that held 1,000 songs and cost £349. Jobs proclaims: “Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player”. Many proclaim that it would be kaput by Christmas. 250 million units sold worldwide. Apple no longer belongs to the world of the geeks, everyone falls in love with the products. Jobs becomes known as a master of the presentation and the first Apple retail stores open.

7. The Phone is born – 2007

Not content with changing music storage forever, now the tireless Jobs decides to change mobile phones forever. He and Jonathan Ive manage to create a vision of minimalist beauty, the common man coos and queues outside Apple’s worldwide stores. Apple lovers (and those previously against the company) everywhere are in awe while sliding their fingers across a scratch resistant liquid crystal display, the word ‘iPhone’ is used more than ‘phone’.

8. There’s an app for that - 2008

When the iPhone platform became available for external app developers a whole new world was opened to a land of endless possibility. Over 16 billion apps have now been downloaded, and we bet the first one you remember downloading was Angry Birds, right?

9. Ain’t nothing gonna stop us now – 2010

In 2003 Steve Jobs was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, which has a horrifyingly low survival rate. He appeared to be on the up following a successful liver transplant, but things looked grave in 2009 when he took half a year medical leave. When he returned, looking gaunt, what did he do? He unveiled the iPhone 4, and the iPad, changing yet another area of technology forever.

10. “Just avoid holding it that way” - 2010

This is why Steve Jobs is cool. When a man called Aram emailed him in June 2010 complaining that when he held his new iPhone 4 a certain way the reception cut off – a situation the press referred to as Antennagate – Mr Jobs replied 2 hours later with six words – “Just avoid holding it that way”, thus delivering a refreshing dose of common sense in the hyperbolic land of tech.

Jobs was a true original. As he said at a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.


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