Steve Jobs would have been 60 today – Apple CEO marks birthday in a touching tweet

24 Feb 2015

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs would have been 60 years old today and his birthday was marked by a touching tweet by CEO Tim Cook which quoted Jobs: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Jobs was born on 24 February 1955 and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs after his natural parents gave him up for adoption.

Jobs dropped out of college after six months, but attributed his attendance of a calligraphy class to his insisting on multiple typefaces and proportionately spaced fonts in the Mac.

Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976 in his parents’ garage after Wozniak single-handedly invented the Apple I computer.

Prior to this Jobs worked at Atari and had just returned from a Buddhist retreat in India.

At 30 years of age Jobs was unceremoniously dropped by the company he founded and proceeded to sell every share he owned in Apple bar one share.

He then embarked on what he described as the most creative period in his life. He said in his Stanford commencement speech: “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”

During the intervening years Jobs founded NeXT whose operating system was the forerunner to OS X as well as Pixar, which used computing technology to produce acclaimed movies like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. Disney in 2005 acquired Pixar for US$7.4bn.

By 1996 Apple was just a few weeks away from bankruptcy when Jobs was coaxed to return. Jobs immediately began looking at ways to change the shape and form of computing and broke the beish mould with the colourful iMac. The arrival of the iMac made Apple popular again and provided much-needed revenue.

In 2001 Jobs once again started a revolution this time with the iPod music player which worked on Macs and Windows PCs. This was followed by the iTunes music store, which legitimised the digital distribution of music.

Jobs’ next big breakthrough – and the most fundamental one of the past decade – was the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and mobile history was changed forever. Originally sneered at by rivals like Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, the iPhone proved all the critics wrong and sent Microsoft, BlackBerry and Nokia hurtling towards irrelevancy in the mobile stakes.

In its most recent financial quarter the success of the iPhone contributed largely to the company reporting historic revenues of US$17bn. It is estimated that 93pc of profits in the smartphone industry today are generated by Apple.

Jobs followed up the success of the iPhone in 2011 with the iPad tablet computer, once again breaking the mould on computing as we knew it.

As his pancreatic cancer worsened Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple on 17 January 2011 and was replaced by present CEO Tim Cook, but stayed on as chairman. He wrote to the board: “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. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Jobs died at his home at around 3pm on 5 October 2011.

He will be forever remembered as a visionary, a passionate perfectionist and the kind of leader who, as he said himself, “always tried to skate to where the puck was going to be, not where it has been.”

Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford in 2005

Steve Jobs image at top via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years