RIP: Steve Jobs

Posted October 6, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in News

Computer innovator and iTunes/iPod creator dies at 56

As the due date for the highly-anticipated iPhone 4S (or “5” to some) steadily approaches, sad news reverberates through the Apple community of the loss of its innovative co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. The innovative computer whiz, battling pancreatic cancer, died at the age of 56. His death was announced by The Associated Press, via Apple, Inc.

Jobs began Apple Computers in 1976, along with his childhood friend Steve Wozniak, and began marketing what was considered to be the world’s first personal computer, the Apple II. The success made Jobs, who some critics called a Thomas Edison of his generation, a multimillionaire by 25 and landed on Time magazine at 26. But Apple, eager to compete against newer and innovative companies, forced Jobs to step down.

Apple survived the Eighties, as it wrestled with pioneering and newly-energized computer companies such as IBM and eventually Hewlett-Packard, but was losing its powerful presence in the computer world.  By 1996, Apple rehired Jobs back and began re-invented itself by announcing their shift into the commercial music industry. After creating iTunes (a digital retail world hosting millions of songs and albums via high-quality AAC/M4A files) in 2001, Jobs had the music world on its knees. His innovation had literally saved the music industry from a dangerous apocalypse, when bootlegging and file-sharing was killing its annual profits. Although traditional retail stores hated the new awakening of digital music, iTunes provided another outlet for musicians, record companies and even independent artists to generate wealth.  No longer did fans of music have to leave home to purchase their music from dying record stores. Instead they had the option to download the music on their personal computers and play it using Apple’s hottest commodity since the Macintosh computer: the iPod.

The iPod symbolized a sleek, embossed über-cool readaptation of the Eighties handheld champion, the Sony Walkman. Smaller than most cell phones, the new gadget was empowered with longevity due to its easy-to-use features and mammoth size capacity for music and video downloads. Since its introduction in 2001 up to 2007, the iPod – along with its long list of family members (iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, iPod Touch, iPhone) – Apple has reported record quarterly revenue of $7.1 billion, of which 48% was made off of iPod sales.

Apple made major leaps into modern tech evoultion, including the iPad and their world-changing transition into the cellular phone industry with the iPhone. But the music world owes a majoe debt to Jobs’ impact

In 2004, Jobs – a normally private guy – was forced to make an announcement about his ailing health and telling his company he was battling pancreatic cancer.  He managed to fight back, when in 2009 he obtained a liver transplant. After several years of failing health and after taking three medical leaves, Jobs announced on Aug. 24, 2011 that he was stepping down as Apple’s chief executive.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know,” Jobs wrote in his letter of resignation. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Jobs leaves behind a legacy that stands out like a torch, illuminating the dark space of doubt with hope, inspiration and the idea of breaking the back of creative impossibilities. In 2011, the music world responded to Jobs’ resignation from Apple. (Rolling Stone magazine cited that “since [iTunes was] translated into 19 languages, and a commonly-cited catalyst for physical albums’ declining sales, its popularity is indirectly responsible for the success of breakout Internet artists from Soulja Boy to Rebecca Black.”) Today, the globe – including today’s hottest stars and tomorrow’s supernovas – has lost a genius and a friend.

October 14, 2011, the day the iPhone 4s drops, was unofficially announced by the Apple community to be “Steve Jobs Day.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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