He Thinks Different

DQI Bureau
New Update

The tech world gulped on August 1 upon hearing that Steven P. Jobs had been

operated on for pancreatic cancer. The Apple Computer co-founder and chief

executive, who broke the news in an e-mail typed from his hospital bed, said his

prognosis was excellent. Still, everyone from artsy Mac lovers to buttoned-down

Wall Street pros had to contemplate a future without one of the leading

innovators of the Information Age.


Jobs's contribution? More than anyone else, he brought digital technology

to the masses. As a visionary, he saw that computers could be much more than

drab productivity tools. Instead, they could help unleash human creativity and

sheer enjoyment. A marketing genius, he conceived of elegant products that

captured consumers' imaginations. And as a relentless perfectionist, he came

up with creations that actually delivered on their promise-raising the bar for

rivals. "From the time he was a kid, Steve thought his products could

change the world," says Lee Clow, chairman of TBWA/Chiat/Day and Jobs'

longtime ad man.

So far, 49-year-old Jobs has done just that three times. Soon after he formed

Apple in 1976 with high school friend Steve Wozniak, the Apple II became the

first PC to hit it big. While the power of computing formerly had been available

only to techies, it was suddenly delivered to classrooms, dens, and offices. A

quarter-century later, he rocked the music business with Apple's iPod music

player and iTunes online store. This created a blueprint for the music biz in

the Net era.

Steve Jobs


In many ways, Jobs's career is the definitive Silicon Valley story. Growing

up with his adopted parents when the area was dotted with fruit orchards, he

caught the tech bug early. He got his first job at 12 after calling

Hewlett-Packard President Bill Hewlett and landing an internship. Using HP as

their model, he and "Woz" focused only on breakthrough products. Apple's

blockbuster initial public offering in 1980 made Jobs tech's first celebrity

CEO. Then came the Mac in 1984. The first to pack new-fangled ideas such as

icons, the mouse, and computer graphics into one easy-to-use machine, the Mac

cemented Jobs's standing as a prodigy.

His youthful perfectionism nearly killed his career. When the original Mac

fell short of expectations, he refused to alter its features and was booted from

Apple in 1985. At his next company, NeXT Inc., he created a $10,000 PC that was

packed with innovations, but too pricey for the market. More worrisome, Jobs

poured $50 million of his own money into the struggling Pixar.

His reversal of fortune began in 1995. Pixar's Toy Story became a

box-office smash. Then, just months after Apple bought NeXT for $400 million in

1996, Jobs took the helm of the foundering company. He quickly breathed life

back into it, with the lovable iMac. Then came the iPod in 2001, and iTunes in

2003-the first time anyone had convinced all the major record labels to sell

their songs online.


Few doubt Jobs' management chops anymore. And with his prognosis looking

good, he's back working part-time.

"That was one of the things that came out of this whole experience cancer>. I realized that I love my life. I love my family, and I
love Apple and Pixar. I am very lucky." Given his track record,

so are the world's consumers.

By Peter Burrows in San Mateo, Calif. in BusinessWeek. Copyright 2004 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc