As an innovator and visionary, Steve Jobs' accomplishments can be held on a pedestal with the likes of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bill Gates, Google’s (GOOG) Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Facebook’s (FB) Mark Zuckerberg. The aforementioned names are all highly regarded within technology for transforming consumerism and the accessibility of information.

While best known as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple (AAPL), the late Jobs has had a profound effect on the world outside of technology. From purchasing Pixar in 1986 to supporting charities and environmental causes, Jobs’ achievements and innovations continue to affect industries and lifestyles worldwide. 

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Steve Jobs And The Apple Story

Key Takeaways

  • Steve Jobs' impact on the world continues today through his accomplishments in technology, innovation, and product development.
  • While at the helm of Apple, Jobs lead the company in the development of groundbreaking products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
  • Jobs founded the NeXT computer company, which developed an operating system that Apple eventually acquired to help boost its own line of personal computers.
  • Jobs successfully turned Pixar into a leader in animated featured films, eventually selling the company to Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion. 

NeXT

Most associate Jobs’ success with Apple. However, in the early days, Jobs' relationship with Apple proved to be a rocky one. After being fired from the company he founded in 1985, Jobs founded NeXT, a firm that created computers for business and educational needs. While NeXT wasn't particularly successful based on units sold, the company continues to be an integral part of computers today.  Portions of Nextstep operating systems still live on within Mac OSX. Additionally, the famous “Wolfenstein” and “Doom” computer games were written on NeXTcube stations.

In 1990, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web using a NeXT computer.

Pixar

Jobs' $5 million acquisition of Lucasfilms' Computer Graphic Division in 1986 proved to be a wise investment.  The potential he saw in the company—later renamed Pixar—paid off when he sold it to Disney (DIS) in 2006 for $7.4 billion. Prior to the mid-1990s, Disney was the gold standard of full-length animated feature films, and it wasn’t until the success of Toy Story in 1995 that Pixar landed on the map. With each subsequent film, Pixar gained steam and created a whole animation industry in Hollywood. The company’s movies grossed around $3.5 billion worldwide before its acquisition by Disney.

While Jobs lacked expertise in graphic design and video production, he believed Pixar’s computer technology and animation would one day match Disney’s work. Job’s biggest impact was on the strategic direction of the company, including leading and overseeing Pixar’s initial public offering (IPO) in 1995. The investment capital Pixar received from going public gave Jobs the freedom to rapidly expand the company. Many attest that Jobs' drive and vision for Pixar gave the company the support it needed to prosper and flourish. Today Pixar is recognized as one of the most influential film studios in the world.

Apple

Jobs’ development of new product lines while at the helm of Apple continues to impact countless individuals and has created enormous success for the company.

The iPod

Released in 2001, the iPod was widely recognized as the first user friendly and innovative means of accessing music on the go. Consumers had used portable radios, CD or tape players for remote audio purposes prior to widespread access of mp3 files. Syncing with Apple’s iTunes program, the iPod gave users the means to carry and purchase hundreds of songs on a single device.

The iPhone

Jobs’ next big product launch was the iPhone. Combining the features of an iPod with those of a phone and computer, the iPhone enabled users to make calls, listen to music, and browse the Internet on one touchscreen-capable device. Besides synchronization to iTunes, the iPhone featured an exclusive App Store that liberated users from purchasing content from wireless carriers. Before the App Store, wireless carriers controlled the distribution of content to phones.

On Nov. 1, 2018, Apple announced it would no longer report the number of iPhones sold. However, between its initial launch in June 2007 and Nov. 2018, cumulative worldwide sales for the iPhone had soared to approximately 1.5 billion.

The iPad

Taking their cue from the iPhone, Apple and Jobs then created the first touchscreen tablet without a keyboard. A cross between a laptop and an iPhone, the iPad spurred the development of a new industry that other technology companies have since entered. Jobs' influence on retail products has revolutionized consumer technology, forcing engineers and developers to create new and innovative products.  Consumers have benefited most from increased competition, as products remain modestly priced but boast increased capabilities and features. 

Charity

As seen at NeXT, Pixar, and Apple, Jobs had a visible role in the success of products and companies. However, behind the scenes, Jobs was known by a select few as a philanthropist. While his philanthropic efforts were rarely made public, many have attested to Jobs' charitable nature. Jobs donated over $50 million to Stanford hospitals through Apple, and contributed to various projects to fight AIDS.  As a philanthropist, Jobs' goal wasn't to be recognized but to help those who needed it.

Environment

Not only are Apple products considered innovative, but they are also environmentally friendly. Jobs promoted an initiative for environmentally friendly products during his time as CEO. Apple utilizes eco-conscious materials such as recycled aluminum, plastics, and papers in its products to conserve global resources. Likewise, all Apple products are ENERGY STAR qualified, which means they follow the requirements set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for energy efficiency. 

The Bottom Line

As the initial creator of upscale, user-friendly technology, Steve Jobs' accomplishments continue to have profound effects today. The competition created from the introduction of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad has revolutionized the technology industry. Consumers have benefited from developments in phones and computing, and have a wider array of choices when purchasing computers, phones, and tablets.

While Jobs’ influence on technology was obvious, his philanthropy has gone widely unrecognized. Jobs donated to a variety of charitable causes, and he also sought to lessen the long-lasting environmental impacts of Apple’s products by changing the company’s environmental policy.