The New Stuff

Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs Dies at 56


CUPERTINO, Calif. “RIP”—Apple co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs died Wednesday after battling pancreatic cancer for last six-years. He was 56.

"We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today," read a statement by Apple's board of directors. "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve. His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts."

The man who created the iPhone, the iPod and the iMac, was also credited with creating the first commercially successful computer.

Jobs was just 21 when he co-founded Apple Computer in his garage in Cupertino, Calif., in 1976. The following year, when Jobs and his partner, Steve Wozniak, released the compact Apple II, most computers were big enough to fill a university basement or came from do-it-yourself kits for hobbyists with soldering irons.

With sound and cutting-edge color graphics, Apple II was the first blockbuster desktop computer. Users could hook it up to their TV sets to play games, and its spreadsheet program made it popular with small businesses.

"It made Apple the biggest computer manufacturer in the nascent computer industry," says Leander Kahney, author of Inside Steve's Brain.

In 1981, Apple encountered serious competition from IBM after the company released its own version of the personal computer.

Undeterred, Jobs’ computers were the first to feature a mouse, pull-down menus and icons – thus eliminating the command line interface and squashing the competition.

"Jobs' idea was that we'll make it easy enough that anybody can do it ... a grandmother, a kid, people who don't have any experience," Kahney says. The Mac was an example of the kind of product that would come to define Jobs' entire career: easy-to-use computers.

That's the message Jobs sent to millions when he released the Mac in 1984. In an ad that aired once during the Super Bowl, a woman dressed in brightly-colored shorts runs into a room of gray-looking people and throws a sledgehammer at a screen where Big Brother — read IBM — is talking. The minute-long reference to George Orwell's 1984 became one of the most famous television commercials of all time.

That commercial illustrated Jobs’ belief that computers were tools to unleash human creativity.

Industry watchers called him a master innovator -- perhaps on a par with Thomas Edison -- changing the worlds of computing, recorded music and communications.

In 2004, he beat back an unusual form of pancreatic cancer, and in 2009, he was forced to get a liver transplant.

Jobs continued to revolutionize the marketplace with the invention of the iPod – a pocket-sized computer hard drive that would allow the user to listen and store hours of music on it. He also set up the online iTunes music store, and persuaded major recording labels to sell songs for 99 cents each. The added convince meant people did not have to go out and buy a CD if they like one song. Now they could purchase only the songs they liked and could store the digital file on their iPod.

In 2007, Jobs completely transformed the cell phone with the invention of the iPhone, its iconic touch screen, was a handheld computer, messaging device, music player and digital wallet. The iPhone once again revolutionized the market place and left its competitors struggling to keep up.

By 2010, Apple’s new sleek tablet computer, the iPad began to dominate the industry with its touch screen and lack of physical buttons. The iPad could be used for almost anything software designers could conceive, from watching movies to taking pictures to reading virtual books.

And in January 2011, Apple reached a milestone by surpassing 10 billion downloads from its App Store — a sign of just how popular the company's devices have become with consumers.

"Simplifying complexity is not simple," says Susan Rockrise, a creative director who worked with Jobs. "It is the greatest, greatest gift to have someone who has Steve's capabilities as an editor and a product designer edit the crap away so that you can focus on what you want to do."

After several years of failing health, Jobs announced on Aug. 24, 2011 that he was stepping down as Apple's chief executive.

"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Jobs wrote in his letter of resignation. "Unfortunately, that day has come."

Jobs, who was listed in March as 109th on the Forbes list of world billionaires with a new worth of 8.3. Billion, leaves behind his wife of 20-years and four children.

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