Apple says goodbye to Jobs

Nathan Smith

     Steve Jobs, a titan of the computer industry and one of the most creative inventors to ever hit the industrialized world, passed away on October 5, 2011 at the age of 56 – Apple announced its patron’s death on the same day.  The next day, a Thursday, much of the world came together to mourn the death of the man who had given them such innovative devices as the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, all of which stand as edifices to the memory of Steve Jobs.

     “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius,” Apple stated in a eulogy of sorts on its website.  “Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor.  Steve leaves behind a company only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

     Jobs was born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955, and was subsequently adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, who promised his birth mother that they would send him to a university when the time came.  Growing up in Cupertino, California, Jobs received his diploma from Homestead High School.  During his high school career, he would frequently attend after school lectures in Palo Alto at the Hewlett-Packard Company (better known as HP), where he was eventually hired for a summer job, getting to work with Steve Wozniak.  In 1972 Jobs enrolled into Reed College in Portland, Oregon, fulfilling the promise Paul and Clara Jobs made to their adoptive son’s birthmother, however, Jobs dropped out of college after a semester.  After dropping out of Reed, Jobs still audited classes at the Portland college, sleeping on the floors of friends’ apartments, and living off of the money he received from recycling Coke bottles and the free weekly meals given out at the local Hindu Hare Krishna temple.  It wasn’t until autumn of 1974 that Jobs returned to his home state of California, where he got a job working at Atari, reuniting with Wozniak as his coworker.  After two years of working at Atari, which was interrupted at one point by a trip to India wherein Jobs was immersed in and later converted to Buddhism, Jobs and Wozniak left Atari, having bigger plans in mind.

     Together with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, Jobs brought Apple Computers to life in 1976.  Two years later, in 1978, Mike Scott from National Semiconductor was brought on to the team as CEO, inaugurating what would turn out to be troubling years for the still rising computer company.  Jobs replaced Scott with John Sculley in 1983 as Apple’s CEO, pulling the new member of the team from Pepsi-Cola with a single question: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”  Sculley later turned out to be almost no better than Scott, described as rather temperamental in the way he interacted with his fellow employees.  And after what Sculley deemed to be insufficient performance, Jobs was released from his position at Apple in May 1985.

     After working with Apple for a number of years, even introducing the Macintosh line of computers in 1984, revolutionizing the way the world thought about personal computers, Jobs was fresh out of work in 1985, founding NeXT Computer that same year.  NeXT was later purchased by Apple for $429 million in 1996, thus bringing Jobs back into the fold.  During NeXT’s lifetime, Jobs was also involved with Disney and Pixar, of which he was a significant investor, to the point of being listed in the credits for Toy Story just before returning to Apple.  It was in 1993 that Sculley was at last forced out of Apple after the company’s years of eroding value; he was replaced by Gil Amelio, who was in turn replaced by Jobs as CEO of Apple upon his return in 1996.  Wasting no time, Jobs hit the ground running in once again revolutionizing the computer world: in 1998, the iMac was finally introduced, sparking a greater interest in personal computers; in 2001 the iPod and its complementary iTunes are both unveiled; in 2007, after changing the company’s name to Apple Inc., the iPhone and iPod Touch are both brought on the scene, the former of the two really kicking the smart-phone movement into top gear; in 2010 the iPad, Apple’s first ever tablet computer, is shown off and put on sale that April.

     Finally, after a legacy of computer production and innovation, which one could argue began when he constructed and even sold his first computer at the age of 16, Jobs announced on August 24, 2011 that he would be officially resigning as Apple’s Chief Executive Officer.

     Jobs career with apple from 1996 to 2011 was unbelievably successfully, yet his time was interspersed by frequently occurring health issues and consequential though temporary leaves of absence.  Now, though Apple said goodbye to one of its pioneer and long-time leader as its CEO, Jobs still remained as the chairman of Apple’s board of directors.  Hours after the announcement of Jobs’s resignation, Apple’s stocks dropped by as much as five percent and Walt Disney’s by 1.5 percent, admittedly less of an impact than was originally expected subsequent to the resignation of Apple’s poster-boy.

     Despite no longer being Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., Jobs still had a pull in Apple’s administrative side.  This influence was shown when Jobs’s request that the already planned process of executive succession be followed as was, thus naming the up and coming Tim Cook as Jobs’s replacement.  Cook has held significant positions in computer companies such as Compaq, IBM and Intelligent Electronics, yet it may be his accomplishments while working for Apple that may have truly caught people’s attention.  One of Cook’s most notable achievements at Apple was when he created a groundbreaking plan to shut down factories and warehouses worldwide in order to cut down on manufacturing, thus reducing cumbersome inventory, significantly increasing the company’s net profit and streamlining supply chains.  This feat earned him a promotion to Chief Operating Officer in 2007.  Cook has also sat in as acting CEO of Apple on at least three prior occasions: once in 2004 during one of Jobs’s bouts with pancreatic cancer, in 2009 while Jobs was out due to a liver transplant, and once more in January 2011 when Jobs’s most recent medical leave was approved by Apple’s board of directors.

     Despite some fears of Apple employees and fans alike, Cook affirms that nothing will change from how Jobs left things, not even with the company coming under new management.  With Tim Cook at the helm of this highly prestigious and global corporation, one can only guess where Apple may be headed after the guidance and leadership given by Jobs is replaced by that of Cook.

     Now, Apple has bid its longtime builder and innovator Steve Jobs goodbye forever.  A day after the release of the iPhone 4S, Steve Jobs passed away.  In a statement from Jobs’s family, it seems he “died peacefully,” though little to nothing has been said about the cause of death.  However, despite Jobs’s habit of keeping his health issues quite hidden from the media – just one of the fruits of his naturally secretive side — it seems to be almost of little surprise that this founder of Apple passed away when he did.

     In this time of both mourning and rebirth for Apple, it may be wise to remember a quote from Steve Jobs himself: “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.  It is Life’s change agent.  It clears out the old to make way for the new.”