Brief History of Steve Jobs and Apple

The Company's Co-founder Changed Technology

Steve Job speaking at an Apple event
 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955-October 5, 2011) was a co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. His impact on the technology industry, entertainment, advertising, and pop culture was significant and he left behind an empire that changed how people interact with technology.

The Beginning of Apple

Apple started with three men—Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Mike Markkula—who together in the late 1970s designed and marketed the Apple II series of computers. It was the first commercially successful line of personal computers, and led to the Apple Lisa in 1983—the first computer to use a mouse-driven GUI (graphical user interface).

One year later, the Apple Macintosh was born and with it, the Apple legend began to grow.

Jobs' Various Roles at Apple

In 1985, after a long and drawn-out fight with the Apple board, Jobs departed the company that he helped create. Some say he was pushed or ousted; others say he left simply to pursue other projects. Whatever the case, his next move was NeXT, a tech company he founded that specialized in higher education and business.

In 1986, Jobs took a major interest in a small division of Lucasfilm Ltd. Focused on the development of computer-generated graphics for animated movies, Jobs acquired the company now known as Pixar.

After many small projects and lots of trial and error, Pixar released "Toy Story" in 1995 crediting Jobs as the executive producer. Pixar became one of the most successful and prolific animated movie companies in the world.

One year after the release of "Toy Story," in 1996, Apple bought the NeXT company that Jobs owned and asked him to come back in a leadership role. He was interim CEO from 1997 to 2000, becoming the permanent CEO from that point until his eventual resignation in August of 2011.

iPod and iPhone

When Jobs returned in 1996, Apple was still a niche computer platform. The vast majority of consumers owned less expensive Windows-based PCs, with the higher-priced Apple computers mainly being used in the creative industries, including advertising, design and motion pictures.

However, that all changed when the iPod came along in November of 2001. The device, which allowed thousands of songs to be stored digitally on one small device much smaller than any Walkman or CD player, changed the way music was played and shared.

Within a few years, Apple was the technology that everyone wanted to own. And then came the iPhone in 2007, which took Apple from a major player to the company everyone was trying to emulate.

Overnight, the iPhone reinvented cell phone technology, and it was yet another victory for Steve Jobs. His company, Apple, was the brand leader and the one leading the field.

In 2010, after many variations of the iPhone, the iPad was launched to an initially mediocre reception. People and focus groups didn't see the need for it, but Steve Jobs knew it was going to have a big impact. And it did. By March of 2011, over 15 million iPads were on the market.

Jobs Health and Death

Jobs' health had been in question since around 2006 when his gaunt, frail appearance and lackluster delivery were the focus of his WWDC keynote address. In fact, Jobs had announced to his staff in 2004 that he had pancreatic cancer.

Between 2003 and his death in August 2011, Jobs underwent many procedures and therapies to try and beat cancer, but the disease was too aggressive. He stepped down as CEO of Apple on August 24, 2011, and died just a few weeks later.

Apple After Steve Jobs

To say Apple greatly misses the influence of Steve Jobs would be the understatement of the century.

The last great innovation that Apple released to the market was done so under the leadership of Steve Jobs; it was the iPad, back in 2010. Almost everything released from that point on has been an update to an existing product; none of its newer products has been met with the same must-have enthusiasm that Jobs' products inspired in customers.