For those of us with long memories, Steve Jobs is the one person more than any other who is responsible for the Mac and also for Apple’s rescue from corporate oblivion. As such, he is, in many ways, Apple.
Back in December 1979, Steve Jobs saw the future and that future was a world of computers with a GUI (Graphical User Interface). This particular vision arose following a visit to Xerox Parc to see the Xerox Alto, which first introduced the ‘desktop’ concept and GUI in computers. He went on to bring us the very first Mac in 1984, complete with a GUI and using a mouse. The original Mac was more successful than the Lisa, which came out in 1983, but was still expensive and had limited software. However, this was still the early days of personal computing remember so this was not surprising.
The Mac really took off however when Adobe Postscript and the laser printer came together n the form of the Apple Laserwriter in 1985. Together with Pagemaker (originally an Aldus Corporation product, later Adobe). This allowed the desktop printing revolution to take off in big way, and ensured the success of the Mac.
However, Steve Jobs has never been an easy guy to work with and in particular corporate management always failed to truly understand his genius. So it was that following a corporate power struggle within Apple’s board, Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 and immediately set up his own company, NeXT Inc. At NeXT, Steve Jobs developed the object-oriented Nextstep operating system and a programming environment standard called OpenStep. He also developed WebObjects, one of the first enterprise web application frameworks.
Although NeXT was targeting the higher education and business sectors and sold only 50,000 units or so, it was nevertheless influential. Whilst Apple was heading for the corporate graveyard under the management of corporate executives who lacked the visionary genius of Steve Jobs, NeXT was relatively successful. So much so, that when Apple needed to reboot and find a saviour, it turned to Steve Jobs. In 1996, Apple bought NeXT and Steve Jobs returned to helm (as a consultant but in reality he was the real power behind the throne, so to speak). The new Mac OS became a revamped version of OpenStep and the rest, as they say, is history.
So, having faced the very real prospect of being bought up by the likes of Sony for a few million dollars back in the 1990’s, Apple is now one of the richest and most successful companies in the world. It has some of the most successful products ever known (iMac, iPod, iPhone and now the iPad) and its market share has grown considerably compared to where it was in its years of decline. All of this is arguably down to one man, Steven Jobs. Only he had the vision, the determination and the genius to achieve this. Yes, others played their parts but not to the extent he has. Now that he is withdrawing from the heart of the company its not clear what the future holds for Apple but I am sure his legacy will live on and others are already taking up the torch. Apple will continue to thrive and Steve Jobs has taken the right steps to make sure that happens.
Thank you Steve and I wish you well. I hope and pray you will recover your health and enjoy many happy and healthy years with your family. You deserve it.
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