SciTech

Apple’s Steve Jobs dies at 56

Steve Jobs, visionary and CEO of Apple Inc., died this past Wednesday, seven years after he was initially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  (credit: Courtesy of Apple Inc.) Steve Jobs, visionary and CEO of Apple Inc., died this past Wednesday, seven years after he was initially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (credit: Courtesy of Apple Inc.)

Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc., passed away this past Wednesday in his family home in Palo Alto, Calif., seven years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. According to a statement released by his family, Jobs died peacefully. He was 56.

He was born in 1955 to a Syrian graduate student and his American girlfriend. Jobs was put up for adoption and raised by Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, Calif. He enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Ore., but dropped out after just one semester. He continued to audit courses, including a calligraphy course that Jobs claimed influenced the typefaces that would eventually exist in the Mac.

A spiritually motivated visit to India and a short stint with Atari eventually led Jobs to co-found Apple Inc. in 1976 at the age of 21. One year and one computer design later, Apple released the Apple II, which “reflected the first stirrings of Jobs’ keen instincts” with its “emphasis on ease of use and its stylish case design,” according to Time magazine, and eventually became one of the first highly successful mass-produced home computers. After an industry-wide sales slump in 1984, the former CEO of Pepsi-Cola and then-president of Apple John Sculley stripped Jobs of his decision-making powers, which eventually led to his resignation in 1985.

Jobs made use of his time away from Apple by founding NeXT Computer, a company that focused on computer workstations for higher education and business markets, as well as buying the animated film studio that would eventually become Pixar. Jobs referred to this period with Pixar and NeXT as “one of the most creative periods of my life” during his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University.

After rejoining the Apple team in 1996, Jobs officially became CEO of Apple Inc. in 2000. Since then, Apple has become one of the leading consumer-electronics companies with its widely successful iMac and MacBook systems. It has transformed the way popular culture listens to music (through the iPod) while also influencing the way it communicates and shares information (through the iPhone and iPad).

Speaking about Jobs’ success, Time noted that “some leaders push innovations by being good at the big picture. Others do so by mastering details. Jobs did both, relentlessly.”

The loss of Steve Jobs has been felt across campus at Carnegie Mellon. “I elected this field specifically because of Steve Jobs,” Ben Nimmons, a master’s student in human-computer interaction (HCI), said in an email. “When asked why I was quitting my previous work and going back to school, I explained my interest ... as simply as I could: ‘I want to learn to do what Steve Jobs does naturally.’ ”

Katie Rivard, another master’s student in HCI, reflected on her childhood and Jobs’ impact on it. “One of my favorite childhood photos is of my sister and I at the computer table in our living room,” she explained in an email. “My sister is hamming it up for the camera; I’m focused on the screen. The computer is a Macintosh SE.”

A private funeral service was held last Friday. Jobs is survived by his wife, Laurene, and their two daughters and son, as well as one other child from a former relationship.