Love him or hate him, there’s one thing most people can agree on: Steve Jobs has been one of the most interesting figures in consumer technology. So now that the once-and-former Apple honcho is exiting stage left, let’s take a look at some highlights (and a few lowlights) of the man who turned a black turtleneck, jeans and some production value into a cultural phenomenon — and was responsible for some of the world’s most intriguing and successful projects and products.
1976: Apple is founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. Apple I is introduced.
1979: Jobs and his team stop by Xerox PARC, where they witness a demo of a graphical user interface used with a mouse.
1980: Apple goes public. The IPO is the biggest since Ford Motor’s offering in 1956. Jobs’ 15% stake is worth $200+ million.
1983: Apple Lisa launches, smacks of Xerox’s mouse and graphical UI.
1985: Apple lets go of Jobs, who ends up launching Next, a new computer hardware/software company.
1986: George Lucas sells Pixar to Jobs for $10 million.
1988: Next debuts the Cube for $6,500.
1993: Spurred by Next Cube’s dismal sales, Jobs cuts staff by half. Decides to focus on software.
1995: Pixar releases the first full-length computer-animated feature film. Toy Story gets excellent reviews and earns big box office. Pixar goes public, making Jobs’ 80% stake worth $585 million.
1996: Apple acquires Next for $430 million.
1997: Job returns to Apple as its interim CEO. He replaces the board, and launches the “Think Different” campaign.
1998: Apple officially returns to profitability. The new iMac G3 debuts in Bondi Blue and becomes the fastest-selling Macintosh ever. Apple officially kills off previous CEO John Scully’s pet project, the Newton PDA. Pixar releases A Bug’s Life.
2000: Jobs is permanently installed as Apple’s CEO. Board gives him a jet (Gulfstream V), plus 40 million options. New York’s Museum of Modern Art adds a G4 Cube desktop to its design collection.
2001: Under Jobs’ watch, the company debuts the first Apple stores, launches the iPod, unveils iTunes and reboots the Mac operating system environment, ushering in the era of OS X. Pixar releases Monsters Inc., another critical, technological and box office success.
2002: Titanium Powerbook G4 hits stores, inciting drool from graphics professionals.
2003: Jobs is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but both he and the company choose to not to disclose it publicly. iTunes Music Store launch shakes up the industry with $0.99 tracks. Power Mac G5 becomes world’s fastest personal computer. Pixar breaks box office records with Finding Nemo.
2004: Job has cancer surgery, then publicly addresses both his cancer and his treatment, ending months of speculation. Pixar opens The Incredibles.
2005: iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are released and become popular. Apple and Motorola announce ROKR, the first cell phone with iTunes. It fails. Hard.
2006: Disney buys Pixar, making Jobs its largest shareholder. His stake is now worth $4.6 billion. Cars is released.
2007: Apple launches its first smartphone: The iPhone. Apple stock hits record $199.83 a share. Jobs shows off Apple TV. Hardly anyone notices. Also on deck was the iPod Touch, a new touchscreen revamp of the popular music player that could also run the iPhone OS.
2008: Apple puts out ultrathin metal laptop, the 13-inch Macbook Air. iPhone 3G debuts, and public flocks to the faster, cheaper iPhone, which beats the original’s sales in less than a couple of months. Apple puts out new line of iPods, also announces it is opening the iPhone platform to third-party developers via an App Store.
2009: Jobs takes medical leave for six months, for a liver transplant operation, leaving Tim Cook in charge. Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, a total coding departure from the original Mac operating system. Jobs appears at the Apple Music Event. Google CEO Eric Schmidt quits Apple’s board over conflicts of interest (i.e., Android).
2010: Jobs announces the iPad Apple tablet. Shortly after, an iPhone 4 prototype is found in a California bar ahead of the handset’s announcement and launch. The engineer responsible is publicly humiliated, a Gizmodo editor faces police raid and Apple rumors go into overdrive, even after the iPhone 4 debuts.
2011: Apple debuts iPad 2 along with new magnetic accessory called Smart Covers. Verizon gets CDMA iPhone 4, ending AT&T exclusivity. iPhone OS gets redubbed iOS. The company stuns fans by not announcing a new iPhone in June at the WorldWide Developers Conference. New version of MacBook Air and Mac Mini release, followed shortly by Mac OS X Lion. The new OS polarizes Mac users, who either laud its iOS-like touches or scramble to learn how to downgrade to Snow Leopard.
End of summer 2011: Steven P. Jobs resigns from Apple Inc. Fans mourn, haters rejoice, and investors shake at the knees, wondering about the fallout on their Apple stock prices.