Steve Jobs was born in 1955, into an era of rotary phones and room-size computers. He died on Oct. 5, 2011, having put a computer inside a phone and that phone into 120 million pockets.
Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, and while he went to characteristic lengths to control public knowledge about the details of his condition, he could not hide his physical deterioration. First he underwent surgery and took a leave of absence. When he returned as chief executive officer, he guided Apple through a streak of new products that proved his belief that art and commerce, complicated ideas and simple packages, could be merged into a universal aesthetic. Each launch brought more magic, more acclaim, more profits—and less Jobs. There was a second leave of absence in 2009, and pictures of the CEO introducing iPhones and iPads over the last three years show a man disappearing before our eyes. He died at home, surrounded by his family, the day after Apple introduced the latest version of the iPhone without him.
Business leaders are sometimes admired and occasionally revered. Jobs—though prone to the arrogance that can accompany genius—was beloved. The memorials outside Apple stores around the world are a testament to his ability to affect people and expand their sense of the possible. In the coming weeks we’ll report at length on Apple’s future and take a close look at whether the company Jobs co-founded at the age of 21 and nurtured into the most valuable corporation in the world can continue to dominate technology and popular culture.
This week, we offer the biography of a boundary-breaking thinker and endlessly astute businessman. From his birth and adoption by the Jobs family to his days in the California counterculture making games for Atari; from the peak of the insurgency against Microsoft to his forced exile from Apple; from Woody and Buzz to iTunes and the iPad, it’s all here, a signature American life as told by our staff of writers and reporters, and the people who knew Jobs best. It’s different from any issue we’ve ever done, and that’s the most fitting tribute there is.
Quotes from Steve Jobs in order of appearance:
— Commencement address to the Stanford graduating class, June 12, 2005
— BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998;
— Wired, February 1996
— Stanford commencement
— BusinessWeek, Oct. 12, 2004
— Wired, February 1996
— Several “Stevenotes”—keynote addresses at Macworld Expos, starting with the 1999 introduction of the AirPort Base Station and iBook