Steve Jobs: Mobile Computing Guru

A sage of the information age, Jobs was a charismatic technology pioneer who transformed industries.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs photograph courtesy of Apple Inc.
Steve Jobs, the visionary who co-founded Apple Inc. and transformed the computer, smartphone, music and movie industries, died at 56 on Oct. 5, 2011.

Jobs co-founded the computer company in his parents' Silicon Valley garage in 1976. Decades later, he built it into the world's most valuable company.

Jobs was CEO and chair of Apple's board of directors. He said he wanted to make "a dent in the universe" with technology as a tool to improve human life and free up creativity.

Jobs has been described as one of the foremost visionaries, pioneers and geniuses in business, innovation and product design. He is said to have profoundly changed the face of the modern world and revolutionized multiple industries. Jobs was inventor or co-inventor in 342 U.S. patents.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Jobs "exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity." Media referred to Jobs as a modern Thomas Edison or Henry Ford.

Here are some of the significant products created under Steve Jobs' leadership.

1976: Apple I computer

Apple's first product was a computer produced in small numbers for hobbyists. Steve Wozniak designed it. Jobs organized funding and handled the marketing.

1977: Apple II computer

Apple II was one of the two first successful personal computers. It was a mass-market product, rather than only for enthusiasts. Apple II also was Wozniak's design. The product line continued until 1993.

1983: Lisa computer

Designs he saw at Xerox Corp.'s research center inspired Jobs to build the first commercial computer with a graphical user interface. That meant it had icons, windows and a cursor moved around by a mouse which, of course, is the standard computer interface today. Lisa was too expensive to be a hit with consumers at the time.

1984: Macintosh computer

Macintosh had a graphical user interface and was less expensive and faster. Consumers came to love the graphical interface, which was knocked off later by Microsoft and others. Desktop publishing was a notable accomplishment of a Mac coupled to a laser printer.

1989: Macintosh Portable computer

The battery-powered Macintosh Portable initiated a long line of Apple mobile computers. Aboard a space shuttle in 1991, the Macintosh Portable became the first commercial off-the-shelf portable computer in space. It was used to send the first email from space. The Portable was replaced in 1991 by the much smaller PowerBook. The even lighter and more mobile iBook was introduced in 1999. The powerful lines of MacBook and MacBook Pro arrived in 2006 followed by the MacBook Air in 2008 and the iPad tablet computer in 2010. Today, the mobiles are Apple's best selling computer lines.

1989: NeXT computer

Jobs was forced out of Apple so he started the NeXT company, which built a powerful workstation computer. Few were sold, but the computer was influential. For instance, the world's first Web browser was created on a NeXT computer. Today, NeXT software is at the root of the Macintosh and iPhone operating systems.

1998: iMac computer

Apple was in deep trouble when Jobs returned in 1996. The radical iMac computer – a colorful plastic bubble housing both the monitor and the computer – was Jobs' first step in turning around the company. An iMac is easy for a user to set up. The iMac captured the imagination of consumers around the world as they came to see the benefits of owning a computer and using the Internet.

2001: iPod music player

The iPod was the first successful digital music player with a hard drive. It opened the path to the iTunes music store and, later, the iPhone.

2003: iTunes Store

The iTunes Store simplified buying digital music, which previously had been a hassle that fostered piracy. The store sells tracks from all major labels. By 2008, it had become the largest music retailer in the U.S.

2007: iPhone

The iPhone made the power of a smartphone easy to use. Today, the influence of the iPhone can be seen in all smartphones and Apple is the world's most profitable maker of phones.

2008: MacBook Air computer

The MacBook Air is a thin, light, powerful, durable, intuitive, easy-to-use notebook computer for the mobile lifestyle. By 2011, it was among the best-selling laptop's in Apple's lineup.

2010: iPad tablet computer

The iPad developed a category of computer known as a tablet. The lightweight, portable, handheld computer is controlled via its multitouch screen and is immensely popular for audio and visual media including books, periodicals, photographs, movies, music, games and general web content of all kinds.

The movie industry

Jobs was co-founder and chief executive from the 1980s of Pixar Animation Studios, probably best known for its Toy Story series of movies. He was a member of the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company from 2006.

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© 2012 Dr. Anthony Curtis, Mass Communication Dept., University of North Carolina at Pembroke    910.521.6616    e-mail    home page