📸 Jobs during the Apple II's unveiling at the West Coast Computer Faire, 1977. (Source: Getty)
📸 Jobs with an Apple Macintosh.
Beginning life as the adopted son of working-class parents, Steven Paul Jobs rose to the height of global business. His companies revolutionized multiple industries and his countercultural vision reshaped much of the modern technological world. Of course, Jobs is most famous for founding Apple with his business partner and engineering wizard Steve Wozniak. In April of 1976, the two Steves (then just 21 and 26), along with electronics journeyman Ronald Wayne, launched the company with their first product, the Apple-1, a raw motherboard.
Jobs and Wozniak enjoyed a complicated working relationship. When a young Jobs was working for Atari, he was assigned to build a new arcade game Breakout, with a promised bonus for each computer chip under 50 he could eliminate. Jobs recruited Wozniak, who took on the bulk of the design work, finishing the game in four days. Wozniak was able to use only 45 chips, but Jobs pocketed the bonus and never mentioned it. Throughout their working career, Jobs relied heavily on Wozniak in this way, who was the more talented engineer. Still, it was their joint collaboration that led to such breakthroughs as the Apple-1.
Even though this first product was rough, the promise of the Apple-1 was not in the business of making and selling components, but rather in the concept of a personal computer that could be purchased by millions. The shift in targeting the lay public and delivering a machine that did not require extensive computer skills was revolutionary. This concept was realized with the introduction of the Apple II, which went on to carve out a place near the top of the competitive personal computer industry.
📸 Jobs alongside a Macintosh.
Early competitors like Tandy, Atari, and Commodore were replaced with the monolithic IBM. Apple itself went through a major transition as it developed adaptations of XEROX PARC's graphical interface for the Lisa, and later, the Macintosh in an effort to distinguish itself in the market. The Macintosh looked promising, bolstered by its famous 1984 Super Bowl ad, but its high price tag and limited software capability failed to take on IBM.
In 1985, Jobs was ousted by the board of Apple as the head of the Macintosh group, effectively firing him from the company. After a summer of intense soul-searching, he decided to start a new computer company called NeXT. In many ways, NeXT represented the focal turning point for Job's career. While the company never managed to deliver the expected sales of its hardware, their software products became very influential.
📸 A still from Tin Toy (Source: Pixar)
While NeXT would consume much of Job's energy over the next decade, he did find time to speculate in the field of computer animation after purchasing a division of Lucasfilm in order to form a new company called Pixar. Pixar was headed by visionary computer animation pioneer Ed Catmull. During the company's early years they developed high-performance computer graphics equipment and software, before beginning their work in animation they are best known for today.
In 1989, Pixar won an Academy Award for Tin Toy, the first computer-generated film to win such an award. This creative work led to an opportunity to produce the first feature length, CGI-animated film called Toy Story. More than just a milestone in computer animation, Toy Story would become the highest grossing film of 1995. Jobs used the success of the film to drive a wildly successful and bold public offering of Pixar, instantly becoming a billionaire.
📸 Jobs introducing the iPod in 2001. (Source: Getty)
This stunning success was followed by Job's surprising return to Apple a year later. Apple had fallen far behind its rivals and efforts to update its flagship operating system had stalled. To reinvigorate the company, the board agreed to purchase NeXT in a bid to incorporate their technology and staff into the next generation of Apple. The move brought Jobs onto the board of directors and a year later he would return to the helm of the company as CEO.
At the time, Apple's fortunes were much reduced, but Jobs managed to turn the company around by changing the entire focus of the business from a niche computer company to a consumer electronics leader, his original vision. This was not an easy process, nor was it particularly quick, but it began with the launch of the iPod music player in 2001. By 2004, the iPod was introduced to the world of Windows which opened an enormous market for Apple.
Licensing deals in the world of music, and later publishing, film, and television, brought content to the iPod and set the stage for what would become the most profitable product in history: the iPhone. Launching in 2007, the iPhone sold roughly 1.4 million units. In the following years, the company would sell tens of millions, then hundreds of millions of iPhones. On July 27th, 2016, Apple marked its one billionth iPhone sale. This extremely profitable product has established Apple as the most valuable company in the world.
📸 Jobs and Wozniak with an Apple-1 board. (Source: Apple)
In the midst of this stunning turnaround, human frailty caught up with Jobs. In 2004, he was diagnosed with a rare form of Pancreatic cancer. Against his doctors’ wishes, Jobs pursued holistic cures for his illness that were unable to halt his tumor’s growth. Jobs would battle on and off with the disease until his death in 2011, often downplaying the effects or blaming his appearance on other illnesses so that he could continue to lead Apple through to achieving his vision for Apple.
Today, Jobs is remembered as a savvy businessman who redefined the business landscape and the customer experience of consumer electronics. His reputation as an engineer remains a point of contention, but if nothing else he knew to surround himself with other talented people, chief among them Wozniak. The two Steves, along with many other designers and engineers, redefined the tech landscape into what it is today.
While Jobs always worked hard to cultivate Apple's image as a futuristic tech company, he also carefully crafted his own image as the head of that company. Jobs partnered with the Japanese designer Issey Miyake to create a company uniform for Apple, after being inspired by the artist's work making employee vests for Sony. The idea did not go over so well with Apple employees, but Jobs and Miyake ended up making a uniform all the same — the iconic black turtleneck.
For Jobs, the turtleneck was sleek and iconic. It was a simple garment but represented the casual artist look that his computers sought to emulate. He owned over a hundred of Miyake's shirts and the look became as important to Apple's image as Jobs himself.
The Steve Jobs turtleneck specimen from Mini Museum is a swatch of fabric from one of Jobs' turtlenecks. It comes from the 1991 PC Forum gathering, where he promoted his new computer company, NeXT. It was an early appearance of his iconic style, which was later gifted to his personal assistant and eventually purchased at public auction.
Pieces of this turtleneck are currently available for purchase. You can add a keepsake from this legend of computer history to your personal collection today!
Isaacson, Walter, and Steve Jobs. “Steve Jobs: A Biography” New York (2011)
Catmull, Ed. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration. Random House, 2014.
Brennan, Chrisann. The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life with Steve Jobs. Macmillan, 2013.