Apple’s Steve Jobs (1955-2011) – obituary

The man behind the iPod and iTunes has passed away

Apple co-founder and longtime chief executive Steve Jobs passed away last night (October 5). He was 56.

Jobs had endured a long battle with pancreatic cancer in recent years. He was first diagnosed with the disease in 2004 and underwent intensive treatment, including a liver transplant, but ultimately succumbed to the disease yesterday.

He was born in 1955 in San Francisco to university students Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, who subsequently gave him up for adoption. He was then taken in by Californian couple Paul and Clara Jobs, who raised him from then on.


Jobs spent his childhood a short distance away from Silicon Valley, the hub of the world’s electronics industry, and developed a keen interest in the development of computers after working a summer job at Hewlett Packard in nearby Palo Alto. It was during this spell that he first met Steve Wozniak, who would later go on to co-found Apple with Jobs.

After graduating from high school, Jobs only lasted one term at college and dropped out to take a job at video game manufacturer Atari. During his time at Atari, he learned that Wozniak had designed and built his own computer and in 1976, managed to secure a deal with a local computer store in which he pre-sold 50 of Wozniak’s machines.

After securing the deal, he took a copy of the order to a local electronics distributor and managed to secure a credit deal so he and Wozniak could obtain the required components to build their computers.

Unsure of what to call his newly set-up company, Jobs named the computer Apple after his favourite fruit and dubbed the machine an Apple I.

As soon as he and Wozniak had secured some profit from Apple I, they began building Apple II, which they launched at a technology fair in 1977. In order to secure funding for Apple II, the pair had persuaded local investor Mark Markkula to loan the company $250,000 and the three then formed Apple as a company proper.

The Apple II pioneered the revolution in home computers as it became the first computer to arrive already put together, rather than in parts to be assembled by purchasers, as had been the case before.


Jobs helped to build Apple steadily up during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but in 1985, the company saw a sharp dip in profits and, after some employees raised concerns about Jobs’ notoriously controlling management style, he was ousted from the company.

After leaving Apple, he bought NeXT Computer in 1985 and a year later bought Graphics Group from Star Wars director George Lucas – it was renamed Pixar, and has since gone on to produce some of the biggest animated box-office hits in film history, including Wall-E, Monsters Inc and the Toy Story trilogy.

In 1994, nine years after leaving Apple, his former company paid $400 million to buy Jobs’ new firm NeXT Computer and he returned to Apple, and took his old role as Chief Executive back.

The next step in Jobs’ career was to spearhead Apple’s move into the growing market for digital music downloads and portable MP3 players. In 2001, he launched the first iPod, which could hold up to 10GB of audio files. There have been six different versions of the classic device launched since then and, to date, over 297 million iPods have been sold worldwide.

Accompanying the launch of the iPod was the creation of iTunes, an online music distribution store which, at the last official count, has sold over 10 billion music downloads.

Sadly in 2004 Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent intensive treatment. He recovered sufficiently to return to work and front the launch of his company’s new device, the iPhone.

However, Jobs took an extended period of medical leave in 2009, which included undergoing a liver transplant. He had hoped to return to work, but announced in early 2011 that he was stepping down as Chief Executive as he felt he could not cope with the demands of the role anymore.

As news of his death spread last night, tributes flooded in, not only from musicians and technology pundits, but from men and women as high profile as US President Barack Obama, proving that Jobs has left a legacy that will be hard to match.

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