Steve Jobs, co-founder and long time CEO of Apple Inc., has died at the age of 56 after a prolonged battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Jobs, along with his visionary partner, Steve Wozniak created the Apple II personal computer in 1976, helping to revolutionize the PC world.
Pitting his operating system against Bill Gates’ Microsoft, Apple soon developed a competitive edge with easy to understand graphic user interfaces, sounds and new fonts. But failure to freely share the Mac OS proprietary software with developers allowed Gates and Microsoft to corner the software market, thus gaining a firm hold on the PC market as well.
Yet the interface was unique and innovative. Marketing creativity also hit a peak in 1984 when, during the Super Bowl, Apple advertised their new MacIntosh line of computers with an Orwellian inspired commercial, showing the Mac as a breakthrough product – indeed it was.
Despite not keeping up with sales of Microsoft, Apple continued to set the standard for graphics, ease of use and sound. Many recording engineers and graphic designers continue to keep the MacIntosh a viable part of the PC market.
Perhaps what may be the greatest part of Steve jobs’ legacy is what happened next. Apple, with Jobs’ leadership decided to veer off into the emerging markets of cellular phones and mp3 players, the next standard in recorded music. Seeing the need, Apple developed the iPod – an easy to use handheld device that the consumer could use to eventually download and play thousands of songs, audio books and podcasts. It easily cornered a market before most knew the market ever existed and from then on, Jobs never looked back.
The iPod gave birth to even more dazzling products, such as the iPhone that combined a cellular phone with touch-sensitive technology and the iPad, that quickly claimed undisputed champion status of the newly emerging tablet market. Apple has successfully done an ‘end-around’ of current computer technologies to create and reign over markets that do and will continue to shape the evolution of the information age.
Steve Jobs embodied American innovation and entrepreneurism. 1955 – 2011