ON THE WEB, 6 October 2011
Fiery CEO Steve Jobs’s legendary insistence on overseeing every product launched by Apple meant that he was personally behind many of the breakthroughs that define today’s world.
Jobs was behind much more than simply iPods, iPhones and iPads — his ideas and his patents shaped everything from Hollywood to the music industry to Windows PCs.
Venture capitalist Jean Louis Gassee — who Jobs recruited to Apple — said that Jobs should have “seven statues” built for him — “One for the Apple II, one for the Mac, one for Pixar (the CGI film company Jobs bought in 1986), one for coming back and reviving Apple and the Mac, one for the iPod and iTunes, one for the Apple Stores and one for the iPhone.”
1. Apple I (1976): Home computing
Steve Jobs designed Apple I with Steve Wozniak — to build the first prototype, Wozniak sold his calculator (then a very hi-tech object) for $500 and Jobs sold his VW van for $250. It was among the first computers that plugged into a television and keyboard – but you needed to add those yourself. Steve Wozniak answered all queries himself from Jobs’s garage. Apple paved the way for the PC era.
2. Apple II (1977): Mass-market PC
Apple II was the first Apple PC aimed outside the hobbyist market – and required much less soldering than its predecessor. The computer, which plugged directly into a television was such a hit that versions of it were still selling in the early Nineties.
3. Apple 1984: The “graphical” PC
By 1984, Apple had established itself as a big operator, recruiting talent such as Pepsi’s John Sculley (right), who Jobs recruited with the words, “Do you want to sell sugared water, or do you want to change the world?” — and the Macintosh unveiled in 1984 is among the first computers recognisable as the ones we use today — instead of a “command-line interface” using text, it offered a graphical environment, similar to the Mac OS and Windows software we use today. It also had a mouse.
4. Pixar (1986): Digital Effects
After leaving Apple, Jobs bought a small effects company — called Pixar. Jobs was one of the pioneers of digital effects in Hollywood, selling an ugly digital-effects box, the Pixar Image Computer. The short films created using the machines are the grandparents of today’s multi-billion digital-effects blockbusters.
5. NEXT (1989): Dawn of the web
After being forced out of Apple, Mr Jobs started a company that built a powerful workstation computer. The company was never able to sell large numbers, but the computer was influential: the world’s first web browser was created on one. Its software also lives on as the basis for today’s Macintosh and iPhone operating system.
6. Apple iMac (1998): “Lifestyle PCs”
The iMac — among the first products Jobs entrusted to Apple’s secretive British design genius Jonathan Ive — was an instant, massive hit and remains one of the most recognisable computers ever designed. Its all-in-one design was revolutionary — as was its move away from the then-ubiquitous beige colour of home PCs.
7. iPod (2001): Digital music
Apple’s iPod wasn’t the first digital music player in the market, nor was it even the first with a high-capacity hard-drive — that honour went to Korean rival Creative Labs — but Apple’s ease of use and trademark white design made it the one that people would remember. Global sales of iPods now exceed 250 million.
8. iTunes Store (2003): The download era
Before the iTunes store, buying digital music was very difficult — making piracy the more popular option. The store simplified the process and brought together tracks from all the major labels — launching a new era of entertainment. Everything from games to films is now available to download and buy online.
9. iPhone (2007): Smartphones
People were slow to catch on to what iPhone was — a device that straddled phones and computing, not just an iPod with a phone aerial. More than 250 million devices running iOS have been sold worldwide. It became the first iconic touchscreen computer – and ushered in the beginnings of a new, “post-PC” era.
10. iPad (2010): The post-PC era
Apple’s iPad was greeted with scepticism — Windows had tried to launch similar touchscreens previously in the form of Tablet PCs, and failed utterly. But it became a huge, runaway hit that has terrified the competition.