Steve Jobs is dead.
The founder of Apple Computers and the man who brought us the Mac, the iMac, the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone and a host of other technological innovations passed away last Wednesday of cancer. He was 56.
Jobs had a remarkable life but possibly the incident that shows the strength of his character the most was how, after being humiliated and forced out of the company he created, he came back to make Apple Inc. the most valuable tech company in the world.
Jobs was born out of wedlock, was put up for adoption at birth, and dropped out of college after one semester – not auspicious beginnings.
He and two friends, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, founded Apple Computer in 1976. Their Apple II, released in 1977, was essentially the first home computer.
The company went public in 1980 and in 1983 John Scully, president of PepsiCo, was hired to become Apple CEO.
According to the myth, this set up a conflict with Jobs because the big money boys who were buying into Apple were unhappy with Jobs’ unconventional approach and willingness to take risks. In particular the Apple Lisa, the first commercially available computer to use a graphical user interface (GUI), proved to be too expensive and failed in the marketplace. Sculley, with his experience selling Pepsi – a product that essentially hadn’t changed in nearly 100 years – seemed a safer bet.
Whatever the truth, in 1985 Jobs was forced out of Apple and Scully took over – just as Jobs’ greatest achievement, the Macintosh computer, was beginning to take off.
Jobs went on to found NeXT Computer, producing technologically advanced but expensive machines.
In 1996 Apple bought NeXT and Jobs came back as CEO in 1997.
Since then he has had success after success. Apple shares, which were selling for about $5.50 when he took over, are now priced at close to $380.
Jobs was not a saint. He is reported to have been a difficult and demanding person to work for, and some aspects of his personal life were less than ideal.
He was, however, a genius. We need always to remember that those who are a good deal smarter than most of the rest of us do not necessarily think the same way we do – in fact, they probably wouldn’t be geniuses if they did.
Those who forced Steve Jobs out of Apple forgot that lesson, and nearly destroyed the company in the process.
We should always keep that in mind when dealing with those whose approaches and perspectives differ from our own.