Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Computer in 1976 when he dropped out of college and on April Fools Day began a the company in his parents' garage. He worked on the design, development, and marketing of one of the pioneer personal computers, the Apple II series. Then in 1984, realizing the potential of the graphical user interface (mouse and icon) invented by Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, he led the creation of the Macintosh line of computers.
After a power struggle with his board of directors in 1985, he resigned and founded NeXT Computer, which in 1996 was bought out by Apple, bringing him back as CEO again and resurrecting what was a dying brand and building it into the world's second most valuable company.
Back in 1986, he acquired what he renamed Pixar Animation Studios and successfully ran it, selling it to Disney in 2006 and joining their board of directors. He received a producer credit for their first film, "Toy Story." In fact, five of the top grossing animated films are by Pixar.
His CEO salary at Apple was $1 a year, but his millions of shares in both Apple and Disney made him the 42nd wealthiest American on Forbes' 2010 list with an estimated 8.3 billion dollar fortune.
He was renowned for his privacy, but quietly amassed over 300 Apple patents as principal inventor or "one inventor among several" for a vast variety of ideas and products, including desktop computer housings, 85 iPod patents including the revolutionary click wheel, iPhone and iPad, multi-touch gestures, packaging, keyboards, mice, monitors, Apple TV, interface ideas for the Macintosh operating system, power adapters, power plugs, and even ornamental glass staircases for Apple stores.
After working a full day in August of this year, he submitted his resignation letter as CEO for health reasons, writing "I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it" even though he had been instrumental in so many of their innovations.
He is survived by his wife, four children, and his sister.
It was fitting that I learned of his death from a news flash on my iPad, technology he was instrumental in bringing to the market.
Here's an excerpt from his Stanford University Commencement Speech in 2005:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.