Building Bridges

Steve Jobs, a Man Who Shaped the Modern World

- 2011.10.06 - Tip Jar

How do you sum up the accomplishments of a man? Is it by the things he owns and the house that he has? Or is it the people he's influenced and the impact he's had on the world?

If you're talking about Steve Jobs, the answer would definitely be the latter.

Steve Jobs was a genius. Although he wasn't the person to actually create the first truly functional personal computer (that honor belongs to his friend Steve Wozniak), if it weren't for Steve Jobs, the personal computer revolution may very well have never taken place. Anything and everything in the industry of microelectronics today owes its very existence to Steve Jobs in one way or another. And because of that, I believe Steve Jobs could very easily be considered the most influential man of the last 50 years.

  • In 1976, Steve Jobs convinced Steve Wozniak to form Apple Computer with him. Woz was reluctant, but Jobs convinced him to start up the business by saying something along the lines of, "At least we can say we had our own business." They went on to create the Apple II in 1977, the first complete personal computer.
  • In 1981, Steve took over the Macintosh project from its creator Jef Raskin, and the revolutionary box that revolutionized the way we interact with and use our computers was released in 1984.
  • In 1985, Steve was fired from Apple after conflicts with then CEO John Sculley. He went on to found a new company, NeXT, in the same year. Much of the technology used in Apple products today got its start on the NeXT platform. The first Internet web browser and web servers were first created on NeXT computers.
  • In 1986, Steve acquired Pixar, the computer animation studio that got its start in the computer graphics group of Lucasfilm. Pixar went on to be wildly successful, creating such feature films as Toy Story.
  • In 1996, Apple (which was headed for the electronic graveyard at the time) bought NeXT, and within months Steve Jobs was back at the helm of the company he had cofounded with Woz 20 years earlier. He went on to streamline the Macintosh line and eliminated products that were hemorrhaging money.
  • Steve Jobs introducing the iMac in 1998In 1998, Steve introduced the iMac to the world. It was a revolutionary machine that aimed to get more people on the Internet.
  • In 1999, Steve introduced the iBook, which was the first commercial notebook computer available with WiFi capability.
  • In 2001, Steve introduced the iPod, which revolutionized the way we listen to music on the go.
  • In 2003, Steve introduced us to the iTunes Music Store, which revolutionized the way we buy music.
  • In 2005, Steve announced that Macintosh computers would switch to Intel processors, which opened the door to better compatibility with our Windows friends - and much faster processors than were available from PowerPC chips.
  • In 2007, Steve introduced the iPhone, which revolutionized the way we think of our phones.
  • In 2010, Steve introduced the iPad, which has revolutionized the way we interact with our media, our documents, and in many cases the way we run our businesses.

What may be the most impressive thing of all is that Steve Jobs was a college dropout. He attended Reed College for just six months before he left. He left because he didn't want to waste his parents' money on an education when he didn't even know what direction he wanted to go in. He later attended a few classes as a drop in, one of which was a class on typography. At the time he had no idea how this was going to help him in life. It wasn't until 10 years later that he realized just how important it was that he took that class. This is why we have multiple fonts and proportionately spaced fonts in computers today. He had incorporated his knowledge of typography into the font system of the original Macintosh. Without that, desktop publishing on computers may never have existed.

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs died of cancer. This amazing individual has touched the lives of countless people and enriched the lives of countless more. He will be remembered as the most influential person of the last half century, and he will be truly missed. LEM

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Chris Carson is a longtime Mac user and a more recent convert to iPhone and iPad.

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