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Remembering Steve Jobs, American Icon

One of Silicon Valley's greatest electronics and computer-industry pioneers succumbs to pancreatic cancer.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, now Apple, Inc., died on Wednesday, about 9 months after he began phasing out his leadership of the company.

When I was an electronics and computer-industry editor and conference director, I met with and interviewed Jobs on many occasions. He was to technology and Silicon Valley what Washington Irving was to American literature and Hudson Valley — a person capable of extending the boundaries of their profession well beyond what had ever been done before.

Apple's website posted Jobs' picture and the following message: "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

He was as gifted as he was tenacious and I remember he could be thrifty too. In January 1977, a few days before I hosted Gametronics, the world's first electronic games conference (Burlingame, California, Jan. 18-20), he called and asked if he could have a pass. Cash was tight, he said, because Apple Computer had incorporated only two weeks earlier. I was happy to waive the $60 admission charge for Jobs who was not quite 22 at the time.

Apple's financial status would improve. A. C. "Mike" Markkula, a bright young marketing engineer at Intel who hit it huge on the stock market and was one of my most frequent interegrated-circuit conference speakers, became Apple Computer employee #3 and a partner. He helped Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs' high-school classmate, obtain a $250,000 bank loan, took over the marketing reins and the rest is history.

Like two other famous Silicon Valley pioneers, Bill Hewlett and David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, Jobs and Wozniak started their company in a garage. Jobs worked for the controversial Nolan Bushnell at Atari, the company that launched the electronic games industry and invented Pong. Wozniak worked for Hewlett-Packard, the industry leader in electronic instrumentation and test equipment, before teaming up with Jobs.

Some of Jobs' earlier efforts had limited success including Apple I (a workable machine that deserved a better fate) and a computer called Lisa (although Jobs' daughter Lisa was born prior to its development, according to Apple employees, this computer was named after a company secretary); industry observers say it was well designed but doomed by a highly unrealistic price (in the vicinity of $10,000 before being reduced).

The Apple II and Macintosh personal computers would more than made up for earlier misfires. Apple outsmarted competition by dominating the college student and graphics/publishing markets and in the years to come, enjoyed phenomenal success. Another successful marketing move was the introduction of the Apple Store in 1997, an early Internet buying site expanded a few years later to include brick-and-mortar retail outlets. 

In following years, Apple would introduce many state-of-the art products, among them prize products the iPod, iPhone and iPad.   

When Jobs stepped down in August, he issued the following statement: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

He was born in San Francisco and attended high school in Cupertino, a town located in the heart of Silicon Valley. He enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon but dropped out. 

He was operated on for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and received a liver transplant in 2009.

He will be missed.

 

Jerry Eimbinder is a frequent Patch contributor and a resident of Tarrytown.

Jerry Eimbinder October 06, 2011 at 04:56 PM
The New York Times said Steve Jobs went to high school in Los Altos. We said Cupertino. We got that one correct.
Jerry Eimbinder October 07, 2011 at 11:02 PM
Several media sources including the Wall Street Journal reported that the funeral for Steve Jobs is being held today, Friday, Oct. 7.
Jerry Eimbinder October 10, 2011 at 10:22 AM
A 656-page biography about Steve Jobs will be released on Oct. 24, 2011 by publisher Simon & Schuster, priced at $35. The book was written by Walter Issacson who has also written biographies for Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. The publisher also plans to market a boxed package for the three books. The Jobs biography describes his impact on and contributions to six worlds: personal computers, phones, tablet computing, animated movies, music, and digital publishing. It is based on more than forty interviews with Jobs and more than one hundred interviews with friends, relatives, competitors, colleagues and employees. More information is available at www.simonandschuster.com
Jerry Eimbinder October 13, 2011 at 09:36 AM
An e-mail to Apple employees from CEO Tim Cook has announced that a memorial service for co-founder Steve Jobs will be held for Apple personnel at the company's headquarters in Cupertino on Oct. 19. Jobs was buried on Oct. 7 at a memorial park in Alta Mesa. The message said: "Although many of our hearts are still heavy, we are planning a celebration of his life for Apple employees to take time to remember the incredible things Steve achieved in his life and the many ways he made our world a better place."
Jerry Eimbinder October 13, 2011 at 03:09 PM
An Internet campaign to make Friday, Oct. 14 "Steve Jobs Day," is under way, the San Jose Mercury News reports. One website, www.stevejobsday2011.com, says, "Wear a black turtleneck to work. To school. Anywhere and everywhere. You can even go full Steve and wear blue jeans and tennis shoes." Apple is not involved in promoting the movement.

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