The revolution he created could most likely be traced back to the 1984 Super Bowl. Computer giant IBM was comfortably in the lead mid-way through the 3rd quarter. But a plucky underdog was about to launch the ultimate trick play. Viewers were captivated by a 90 second commercial, telling them nothing other than that the game was changing. The commercial immediately shifted Apple to the forefront of consumers mind in the mid-80’s. Almost 30 years later, Steve Jobs has left us, but not before ensuring Apple will always be a leader in the technology world.
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
Steve Jobs had ideas that could never be contained by the era he was living in. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, personal computers were non-existent. Computers were reserved for companies that not only had the massive rooms to put them in, but the cash to pay for them as well. Apple Computer blazed forward with the Apple II, a personal computer that was aimed directly at people instead of corporations. The Apple II led to the Macintosh, the true predecessor of what we use today, using a graphic user interface and a mouse. These computers brought true word processing and spreadsheet power to homes and schools. Soon programs such as Adobe Photoshop began being produced, entirely changing people’s ideas of what a home computer could accomplish.
“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
By now, everyone knows how the rest of the Apple story goes; 300 million iPods, 350 million iPhones, as well massive personal computer sales. Everyone dreams of revolutionizing the world, Jobs did it every time a new product was launched. He had a vision, like all great creators do, but had the foresight to constantly surround himself with other bright minds that had different personalities. At Apple, he had Jef Raskin and Steve Wozniak, and later at Pixar he let John Lassiter do what he did best, direct. By surrounding himself with creators with a similar dream, but different skill set, he was able to create earth shattering products that simply could not be done by him. But that did not mean that Jobs wasn’t a manager, he was well-known for his demanding leadership and blunt feedback. Knowing that Jobs would nearly always deliver harsh feedback, employees strove for excellence because they knew that approval from him was pure gold. Employees also tried to game Jobs’ feedback; when Tony Fadell was ready to show him the final iPod designs, he first showcased two poor designs. This let Jobs empty out his harsh critique early. Then Fadell unveiled his third design, which Jobs loved.
“I want to put a ding in the universe.”
After a hiatus from Apple (that had led to Next and Pixar), Jobs had returned to orchestrate his final symphony. Starting with the iMac, Apple continuously pumped out products that were sleek, innovative, and easy to use. After years of perceived technology confusion, consumers embraced these new Apple products that made it simple for everyone to use technology. In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While it slowed him, his vision and drive never took a back seat. Even with his failing health, he still found time to launch the most popular phone ever, the iPhone. The revolutionary cell phone has changed not only how people use the phone, but how industries operate. In August of 2011, he stepped down as CEO of Apple, freeing him of the day-to-day tasks. Here he was able to fine tune his vision, while spending more time with his family and allow him time to recuperate.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”
On October 5th, 2011, Billy Joel yet again predicted the future, as Steve Jobs passed away surrounded by his family. Apple will live on for much longer than his own life, the true mark of an artist. His ideas, vision, and creativity will remain that of legend. The innovation he crafted in his 56 years will never be duplicated.