Apple cofounder Steve Jobs
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When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the company was in dire straits. He became CEO again and turned Apple around via new products and a Microsoft investment.During Jobs’ tenure, Apple launched the iMac, iBook, iPod, Mac OS X, iPhone, iPad, and more.
Much of Apple’s success is due to the vision of Steve Jobs, the late cofounder. Without him, Apple as we know it today might not even exist.
In 1976, after he dropped out of college, Jobs cofounded Apple with his high-school friend, Steve Wozniak, while they were still in their 20s, according to “Steve Jobs,” a biography by Walter Isaacson.
Jobs would leave Apple in 1985 to start a new company, NeXT.
Jobs was also the father of four children. He had his oldest, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, with his high-school girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan. Later, he had Reed Jobs, Erin Jobs, and Eve Jobs with his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs.
Jobs met his wife Laurene when she was an MBA student at Stanford in 1989, according to Isaacson’s biography. Jobs was giving a guest lecture at the university when his future wife and her friend snuck into the lecture late and ended up sitting next to the Apple cofounder.
Jobs return to Apple
After Jobs’ 1985 departure, Apple was in rough shape, chewing through CEOs and delivering one bad quarter of financial results after another.
In 1996, knowing he had to do something dramatic, then-Apple CEO Gil Amelio negotiated a deal to buy NeXT, the computer startup operated by an exiled Jobs, in hopes that he would bring some much-needed direction to the company.
In this 1991 file photo, Steve Jobs of NeXT Computer Inc. poses for the press with his NeXTstation color computer at the NeXT facility in Redwood City, Calif.
Instead, Jobs staged a 1997 boardroom coup that resulted in Amelio’s resignation. Jobs had decided that if Apple were to be saved, he would be the one to do it, even if it meant getting help from the company’s rivals at Microsoft.
In August of that year, Jobs took the stage at the company’s Macworld Expo event to announce that Apple had taken a $150 million investment from its long-time rivals at Microsoft.
“We need all the help we can get,” Jobs said, to boos from the audience.
Jobs wasn’t kidding. At the time, Apple’s financial situation was so dire that Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell, one of Microsoft’s biggest partners, said that if he were in Jobs’ shoes, he’d “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
Jobs had his say in the matter, reportedly telling Apple employees at the time, “F— Michael Dell.”
But in January 1998, at yet another Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Jobs ended his keynote with the first of his soon-to-be ubiquitous “One More Thing” announcements: Thanks to Jobs’ product direction and Microsoft’s help, Apple was finally profitable again.
A few months later in March, Jobs hired Tim Cook to head up Apple’s worldwide operations. Cook would stay with the company, eventually becoming chief operating officer.
Jobs needed the help. At this point, he was CEO of both Apple and Pixar Studios, of which he had become chief investor in 1986 after funding it with $10 million. Jobs is actually credited as an executive producer on 1995’s “Toy Story.”
Behind the scenes, Jobs was also busy making some big changes for Apple employees: Under Jobs, the Apple cafeteria got much better food, and employees were barred from bringing their pets to the campus. He wanted everybody focused on their Apple jobs.
By August of 1998, almost exactly a year after Microsoft cash came in, Apple released the iMac, an all-in-one, high-performance computer co-designed by Jobs and new talent Jonathan Ive.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs stands by the new iMac computer in 1998 as he addresses the Apple Expo in Paris.
Mousse Mousse/ Reuters
The iMac came in multiple colors, the first time the world would get a taste of Ive’s computer design sensibilities. This first iMac was a much-needed hit, selling 800,000 units in its first five months.
Jobs had originally pitched the name “MacMan” for this new Mac. It was Ken Segall, an executive with Apple’s ad agency at the time, who suggested “iMac.” The “i” is for “internet,” since it took only two steps to connect to the web, but Apple has also said it stands for “individuality” and “innovation.”
The naming scheme would stick around. In 1999, Apple introduced the “iBook,” a funky machine that tried to replicate the iMac’s success as an entry-level laptop.
Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs poses with the company’s new iBook portable computer at the MacWorld computer trade show in New York 1999. The new iBook, with a base price of $1,599, weighs six pounds and is offered in two see-through colors, tangerine and blueberry.
But Apple’s next dramatic move would come in 2001 when Mac OS X was released. Where Apple had been treading water with Mac OS 8 and 9, OS X was a drastic redesign based largely on the Unix and BSD technology at the core of Jobs’ NeXT Computers.
Expansion under Jobs
From here, things started moving fast for Apple. Later in 2001, the company would open its first Apple Stores, in Virginia and California.
In October, Apple would take its first steps beyond the Mac with the iPod, a digital music player that promised “1,000 songs in your pocket.” The iPod actually got off to a slow start, largely because it started at a pricey $399 and worked only on Macs.
In 2003, Apple opened up the iTunes Music Store, with its novel pricing model of $0.99 per song, to turn the iPod into the center of a digital media universe. Around the same time, both iTunes and the iPod hit Windows, jump-starting Apple’s music play.
But in 2003, Jobs received some news that would cast a shadow over the good times at Apple: he had pancreatic cancer. He kept it a secret until sharing the news with employees in 2004.
In just six years, Apple had gone from a laughingstock in tech to a serious player. And from 2003 to 2006, it went from around $6 per share to about $80 per share. Apple was still lagging behind Microsoft in market share, but it was making serious money. Celebrities like U2 and John Mayer were tapped to help out at company events.
In 2004, Jobs convened Project Purple, under his supervision and with Ive in charge, to develop a touch-screen device. Originally, Jobs envisioned a tablet, but it eventually turned into a concept for a cell phone.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the new iPod mini digital music player at the 2004 Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. The player can hold up to 1,000 tunes, is about the size of a business card, and will retail for $249.
Lou Dematteis/ Reuters
The iPod lineup slowly grew, too. By 2005, there was the iPod, the iPod Mini, the iPad Nano, and the iPod Shuffle, in descending size order. That same year also saw the introduction of the first iPod with video, alongside the ability to buy movies and videos on iTunes.
In 2005, Motorola introduced the Rokr, a phone it made in partnership with Apple. It was the first phone that could play music from the iTunes Music Store. But it was limited to being able to store only 100 songs because of a limit in its software.
In 2006, Jobs made a big move that probably saved the Mac. Former CEO John Sculley had banked Apple’s future on the pricey PowerPC processor, while the major Windows PC manufacturers stuck with Intel. It meant Macs were both more expensive to buy and harder to develop software for. But in 2006, Apple introduced the first MacBook Pro alongside a new iMac, both of which came with Intel processors. It also meant that for the first time you could install Windows on a Mac.
But at this point, Jobs’ health was starting to fade, and observers started to take notice. Note how thin Jobs looks here, shaking hands with Disney CEO Bob Iger at a 2006 Apple event.
Steve Jobs and Bob Iger as Jobs’ health deteriorates
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Still, 2006 also marked a personal victory for Jobs. He got to send this email to every Apple employee: “Team, it turned out that Michael Dell wasn’t perfect at predicting the future. Based on today’s stock market close, Apple is worth more than Dell. Stocks go up and down, and things may be different tomorrow, but I thought it was worth a moment of reflection today. Steve.”
Jobs leads Apple into the iPhone era
After years of speculation, Jobs officially unveiled the iPhone at January 2007’s Macworld Expo. It combined the music features of the iPod with a slick, responsive touchscreen that didn’t need a stylus, unlike most mobile devices at the time. And the iPhone’s Safari was the first full-featured web browser on a phone.
Steve Jobs reveals Apple’s iPhone.
An excited media dubbed it the “Jesus Phone.” Excited fans camped out in front of Apple Stores nationwide. The iPhone was a massive hit, taking only 74 days from its August 2007 launch to sell a million units.
In 2008, Apple released the first big iPhone update: the iPhone 3GS. It had faster network speeds. But the biggest change was that it came with this thing called an App Store to let you install software from non-Apple developers. At launch, the App Store had 500 applications.
Famed venture investor John Doerr of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers took the stage to announce a $100 million iFund for app developers. It was the start of the app economy, and Apple was leaving Microsoft in the dust.
He gets his iPad
Still, Jobs’ health continued to loom over Apple. In August 2008, Bloomberg accidentally published a 2,500-word obituary of Jobs. At a September 2008 keynote, Jobs poked fun at the idea.
Steve Jobs pokes fun at an inadvertently published obituary.
In 2009, Tim Cook was tapped as interim CEO, while Jobs took the first of three extended medical leaves. Even on Jobs’ return, Cook became a regular keynote speaker at Apple events. When Jobs returned, his prognosis was listed as “excellent.”
In 2010, Jobs finally introduced the Apple iPad, the tablet he had wanted since the early 2000s.
The iPhone and the iPad accidentally started an internet standards war. Jobs thought Adobe’s Flash, then the de facto standard for interactive web content, was slow and insecure, so Apple’s mobile devices didn’t support it. A jilted Adobe, recognizing the threat this posed to its business, took out magazine ads begging Apple to reconsider, to no avail.
In early 2011, during the last of his medical leaves, Jobs would give his final two product-announcement presentations: one in March for the iPad 2, and one in June for the iCloud service.
Jobs made his last public appearance in June 2011, in which he proposed a new Apple campus to the Cupertino City Council. After years of construction, Apple Park — the famed “spaceship” campus — opened in 2017.
Jobs steps down
Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO on August 24, 2011, accepting a role as chairman after his pancreatic cancer relapsed. Not long after, Jobs died on October 5, 2011, working for Apple until the day before his death.
That night, the flags at Apple headquarters flew at half-mast.
Memorial to Steve Jobs after his death
In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images
Tim Cook got the nod as full-time CEO after Jobs’ resignation. Apple has continued to grow under Cook, becoming the first $1 trillion company in American history.
Laurene Powell Jobs inherited the majority of Jobs’ fortune when he died — including his lucrative stakes in Apple and Disney.
Apple officially hit the $1 trillion mark in 2018, making it the first American company to do so. It currently sits valued around the $3 trillion mark.
Grace Kay and Aaron Mok contributed to this report.