Steve Jobs was an American businessman, an early proponent of personal computers and a cultural icon. He’s best known for his two wildly successful tenures as co-founder and CEO of Apple, as well as his time as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios. When Jobs died, at the age of 56 in 2011, he had a net worth of $10.2 billion.
The Apple II
One of the pioneers of personal computing, Jobs began his career in the early 1970s with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, whom he first met in high school in Cupertino, California. The two co-founded Apple to sell Wozniak's Apple I computer in 1976. The next year, they launched their second computer, the Apple II, which went on to become one of the very first personal computers to reach a wide audience.
A Computer in Every Home
But Apple’s real breakthrough came in 1979, when Jobs attended a demo of the Xerox Alto – the first mouse-driven computer. He immediately saw the commercial potential for home computers. And after an early failure in 1983, he successfully applied the technology to the Macintosh in 1984. The Macintosh’s new user experience made computing accessible to millions who would have otherwise never used or purchased computers. But success brought its own problems and Jobs was forced out of the company in 1985 after a lengthy internal power struggle.
Already extremely wealthy by the mid-1980s, Jobs and a few of his colleagues from Apple founded a new computer company, called NeXT. At the same time, Jobs also purchased the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm, which would go on to become Pixar. (See also: Steve Jobs' 10 Most Innovative Creations.)
Return to Apple
Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, when the company purchased NeXT. Shortly afterward, he returned to his post as CEO of the struggling company.
Over the years, his visionary ideas and close attention to detail were instrumental to the products that Apple would go on to create during his tenure, including consumer-electronics revelations such as the iMac, the iPod, iPhone, iTunes and the App Store, the Apple retail stores and the iPad.
The Apple Legacy
When Jobs died of complications related to pancreatic cancer in October of 2011, Apple was one of the largest, most profitable and most influential tech companies on the planet. Jobs took Apple from a time of struggle to the apex of the tech world, leading the world in brand recognition and innovation.