Tonight a single image replaced the otherwise gadget filled homepage for Apple, Inc. Co-founder, Chairman, and former CEO of Apple, Inc. and the man credited as one of the most, if not the most, influential people in the technology industry has passed away at the age of 56. Steven P. Jobs is responsible for the ideas that sparked the personal computer revolution. He is the co-inventor of the personal computer, the Macintosh, the iPod, the iTunes Store, the iPhone, the App Store, and the iPad. Born in 1955, Jobs recently stepped down as CEO of the company he co-founded with Steven Wozniak in his adopted parents’ garage on April 1, 1977. He ultimately lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Only a day after new CEO, Tim Cook, announced the iPhone 4S, Apple shared his passing with the elegance that Jobs himself demanded of his products, his people, and his companies. Jobs was ousted from Apple in a boardroom standoff in 1985, only to start NeXT, which later became the basis for Apple’s latest operating system, Mac OSX. Jobs returned to Apple in 1998 when he staged the greatest turnaround effort in American business. When Jobs returned, Apple’s stock was trading at an all time low; today Apple closed at $378.25 per share. His immediate move was to cut the product line and introduce the iMac, a personal computer that demanded attention from both industry and consumers due to its Bondi blue coloring, its unique shape, and lack of traditional ports and a floppy disk drive. He saved the company and has turned it into one of the most successful corporations in America.

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Jobs introduced so many revolutionary products in his time with Apple that it is hard to remember that he built Pixar Animation Studios into the most successful animation film maker on the planet. Culminating with the sale of Pixar, Jobs became the single largest shareholder of the Walt Disney Corporation. In the last twenty years, nearly everything he touched or did challenged every notion known in a product’s category.

On a personal note, I will miss Steve’s vision in the field I call my own. I met him only once and I am lucky because of it. His products have given me a career and his drive changed me forever. The video below is from a graduation speech he gave at Stanford University. Steve never graduated from college, but he understood what it meant to live life to its fullest and to challenge one’s self every single day. He will be missed.

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