Steve Jobs was the innovator who created and marketed Apple into one of the most prominent companies in the world. By thinking differently, he made technology more of an everyday companion. People everywhere vilify and glorify his work, viewing him as a vicious businessman and praising him for his incredible mentorship. From being kicked out of his own company to being readmitted as CEO, and creating the most used mobile phone, Steve Jobs was an innovator.
In 1976, Steve Jobs worked with Steve Wozniak to create Apple Computer, a company originally formed to sell computer kits to software hobbyists. Wozniak assembled the computer boards in Jobs’ garage, and in the process, he started to develop an expandable, powerful computer that would support color graphics. The co-founders knew the project could be a success, so Jobs contacted businesses like Intel to invest in Apple Computer. Jobs didn’t know much about computers, but he was an excellent marketer and businessman. In the end, they sold six million Apple II computers and the company went public in 1980.
The Apple Company set eyes on their next big project: the Lisa. Jobs overwhelmed the company stakeholders with his domineering expectations for the project. Their perception of him began to change and due to his volatile personality, Jobs was dismissed from the Lisa and pushed onto a small side-project. Despite this betrayal, Jobs didn’t settle. He pushed his new team to work harder, think bigger, and do better. This team created the Macintosh, a computer Apple is still known for to this day. It revolutionized computing in graphics, typography, and file operations. The Macintosh featured a user-friendly mouse and advanced graphical user interface making it a commercial success. The design of the Macintosh led to Apple’s longest-lived computer: the Macintosh Plus.
Jobs once said, “It’s not the tools that you have faith in—tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not.”
Despite his success, Jobs’ unique personality led to his dismissal of operational projects, and he eventually was only associated with the company on paper. Although he could’ve succumbed to this crashing turnout, Jobs sold almost all his shares in the company and started another company known as NeXT. He was determined to return to his original vision of an inventive, forward-thinking company. He invited ex-Apple employees to work with him in his new company. He wanted to create software that had more power and faster response time while remaining user-friendly, specifically for higher education campuses. The company failed to produce affordable hardware, but the software they developed spurred technology forward. The software from NeXT received high reviews from businesses and schools around the world.
Ten years after Jobs left Apple, a desperate and floundering Apple Computer bought NeXT for $429 million. In a strange twist of fate, Jobs returned to the company he started. He was no less eccentric than before, but only six months after his return to Apple, Jobs became the interim chief executive officer and jokingly referred to himself as “iCEO.”
He challenged employees with strongly worded feedback, cut poorly performing projects, refocused teams on projects aimed toward building a better computer, and sent programmers to work on creating revolutionary software. He was known for his expectation of excellence, and though his feedback was often harsh, employees desperately sought his approval.
In 1998, Apple released the iMac, a desktop computer that had a colored shell casing, which would allow users to see into the “guts” of their computer. This marketing concept changed computers from being beige boxes to personalized extensions of users. By 2000, Jobs led Apple into revolutionary technology that left other companies scrambling to catch up. Devices such as the iPod, MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad left a significant and lasting impact on modern technology. During this time, Apple launched their own independent retail stores around the world, creating a culture that is centered on Apple’s ethos and embraced by various walks of life today. Jobs’ high expectations may not have made him easy to work with, but the devices the company produced were excellent and different. His innovation guided a company from financial collapse to tremendous success within a few years. He left a legacy of thinking differently and his vision continues to inspire people today.
"My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better. My job is to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways and get the resources for the key projects. And to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be." – Steve Jobs