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Steve Jobs' life and work
Apple's legendary co-founder was known as "best of the best" - charismatic, visionary, perfectionist and ruthless.
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2011 04:51

Passionate, prickly, and deemed irreplaceable by many Apple fans and investors, Steve Jobs made a life defying conventions and expectations.

And despite years of poor health, his death on Wednesday at the age of 56 prompted a global gasp as many people remembered how much he had done to transform the worlds of computing, music and mobile phones, changing the way people communicate and access information and entertainment.

The founder of Apple Inc died in Palo Alto, California, surrounded by his family.

The circumstances of his passing were unclear, but Jobs has had a long battle with cancer and other health issues.

Jobs's family thanked many for their prayers during the last year of his illness.

A college dropout, Jobs floated through India in search of spiritual guidance prior to founding Apple - a name he suggested to Steve Wozniak, his friend and Apple co-founder, after a visit to a commune in Oregon he referred to as an "apple orchard".

With his passion for minimalist design and marketing genius, Jobs changed the course of personal computing during two stints at Apple and then brought a revolution to the mobile-phone market.

The iPod, iPad and iPhone - dubbed the "Jesus phone" for its quasi-religious following - are the creation of a man who was known for his near-obsessive control of the product development process.

Jobs was even credited with raising the standard for animated films by bringing his vision to Pixar, a film studio he founded while exiled for a time from Apple due to an internal conflict.

Biggest dreamer

Charismatic, visionary, ruthless, perfectionist, dictator - these are some of the words that people have used to describe Jobs, who may have been the biggest dreamer the technology world has ever known, but also was a hard-edged businessman and negotiator through and through.

It is hard to imagine a bigger success story than Steve Jobs, but rejection, failure and bad fate were part and parcel of who he was.

Jobs was given away at birth, driven out of Apple in the mid-80s and struck with cancer when he finally had
regained the top of the mountain.

He resigned as CEO of Apple Inc on August 24 - saying he could no longer fulfil the duties - and briefly served as chairman before his death.

Steven Paul Jobs was born February 24, 1955, in San Francisco to Joanne Simpson, then an unmarried graduate student, and Abdulfattah Jandali, a student from Syria.

Simpson gave Jobs up for adoption, though she married Jandali and a few years later had a second child with him, Mona Simpson, who became a novelist.

Steven was adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs of Los Altos, California, a working-class couple who nurtured his early interest in electronics.

He saw his first computer terminal at NASA's Ames Research Center when he was around 11 and landed a summer job at Hewlett-Packard before he had finished high school.

Jobs enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1972 but dropped out after six months.

He floated through India in search of spiritual guidance prior to founding Apple.

"All of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it," he said at a Stanford University commencement address in 2005.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out."

'Apple Orchard'

When he returned to California in 1974, Jobs worked for the video game maker Atari and attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club - a group of computer hobbyists - with Wozniak, a high school friend who was a few years older.

Wozniak's homemade computer drew attention from other enthusiasts, but Jobs saw its potential far beyond the geeky hobbyists of the time.

The pair started Apple Computer Inc in Jobs' parents' garage in 1976. According to Wozniak, Jobs suggested the name after visiting an "apple orchard" that Wozniak said was actually a commune.

Their first creation was the Apple I - essentially, the guts of a computer without a case, keyboard or monitor.

The Apple II, which hit the market in 1977, was their first machine for the masses. It became so popular that Jobs was worth $100 million by age 25.

During a 1979 visit to the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Jobs again spotted mass potential in a niche invention: a computer that allowed people to control computers with the click of a mouse, not typed commands. He returned to Apple and ordered the team to copy what he had seen.

Jobs created Apple twice - once when he founded it and the second time after a return credited with saving the company, which now vies with Exxon Mobil as the most valuable publicly traded corporation in the US.

Every day to him was "a new adventure in the company", Jay Elliot, a former senior vice-president at Apple who worked very closely with Jobs in the 1980s, said earlier this year, adding that he was "almost like a child" when it came to his inquisitiveness.

He was highly intolerant of company politics and bureaucracy, Elliot noted.

But the inspiring Jobs came with a lot of hard edges, oftentimes alienating colleagues and early investors with his my-way-or-the-highway dictums and plans that were generally ahead of their time.

Elliot was a witness to the acrimony between Jobs and John Sculley, a former Apple chief executive, who often clashed on ideas, products and the direction of the company.

The dispute came to a head at Apple's first major sales meeting in Hawaii in 1985 where the two "just blew up against each other", Elliot said.

Jobs left soon after, saying he was fired.

"It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life's gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith," Jobs told a Stanford graduating class in 2005.

He returned to Apple about a decade after he left, working as a consultant. Soon he was running it, in what has been called Jobs' second act.

Jobs reinvented the technology world four or five times, first with the Apple II, a beautiful personal computer in the 1970s; then in the 1980s with the Macintosh, driven by a mouse and presenting a clean screen that made computing inviting; the ubiquitous iPod debuted in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and in 2010 the iPad, which a year after it was introduced outsold the Mac.

Less is more

Even Jobs' appearance simplified over the years. When he returned to Apple after his decade away, he wore fancy white shirts and vests and even a pin stripe suit to introduce new products.

The black mock turtleneck and jeans that became the defining Jobs outfit showed up at more comfortable settings, when Jobs wooed developers, in the late 1990s. But he pulled the iPod out of a jeans pocket to introduce the music player in 2001.

From then on, he barely seemed to take off the outfit.

The jeans and running shoes flashed under his academic gown when he gave the Stanford commencement speech in 2005, and he wore a black mock turtleneck sitting next to President Obama at a 2011 dinner with Silicon Valley titans.

Jobs himself described his world as very simple.

"For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, 'if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something," he told Stanford University students in that commencement address.

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Apple itself marked the death of Jobs by placing a simple black-and-white picture of the founder on the front page of its Web site, with his name and the dates 1955-2011.

Source:
Agencies
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