Steve Jobs: Tribute to a Visionary

The world has lost one of its greatest visionaries.

Steve Jobs and his accomplishments will never be forgotten, as he has singlehandedly altered so many of our lives in such fundamental ways that we will never be the same. Even though many of us were never fortunate enough to know him personally, somehow we all felt connected to him in some indescribable and intimate way.

He defied conventions of success. Born out of wedlock in California in 1955 to a Syrian immigrant and an American from Wisconsin, he was put up for adoption as his biological mother's father did not approve of the pair's union. Paul and Clara Jobs took him in as their own and vowed to give him an education. Despite dropping out of college, he rose to become one of the strongest pillars of American business.

After founding Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) in 1976 with Steve Wozniak, he was eventually ousted by the very CEO he had hired to run the company. Without him, Apple struggled and flirted with bankruptcy. With him, Apple flourished and will always be recognized as the greatest turnaround in corporate history, as Apple has become the largest company in the world by market cap.

The closest friend you've never met
One reason that might explain why we feel so close to him is that he had an uncanny ability to access the deepest recesses of our minds and imaginations, even without knowing us individually. He knew what we wanted even before we did. His visions have shaped technology and society in such profound ways that it's impossible to grasp how one man could achieve so much.

His insight into the future of technology allowed him to craft the world's most lustworthy devices and revolutionize every industry Apple touched. Apple didn't just touch those industries; it defined them under Jobs' guidance.

Defining moments and markets
Apple's computers began to incorporate unparalleled industrial design while proving that computers can be irresistible. It defined the MP3 player market with the iPod and the iTunes Music store that helped dampen the rampant piracy that had begun to plague the industry while redefining standards of digital distribution.

The iPhone raised the smartphone bar with the now-ubiquitous capacitive touchscreen and shot down the idea that technical specifications were all consumers cared about. Rather, ease of use and an integrated user experience trumped the fastest processor.

The newest market that is still unfolding under Apple's influence is the tablet market, whose standards have been set by the iPad, where Apple has yet to see a credible competitor.

Think different
During his absence from Apple, Jobs acquired the small computer-graphics division of Lucasfilm and created Pixar. In doing so, he contributed to creating some of the most timeless family movies that our children will be watching for decades to come, starting with the original Toy Story and including The Incredibles and Up.

Pixar practically pioneered entirely computer-generated movies, and the animation studio has yet to release an unsuccessful film. Eventually, Disney recognized its value and acquired Pixar in a deal that would make Steve Jobs Disney's largest individual shareholder.

Another company he started during his intermission at Apple was NeXT Computer, which served as the foundation to the Mac OS X operating system that all Macs run today. Apple inevitably acquired NeXT as it called on Jobs to return to the company during its darkest days.

Constant battle
In 2004, he went on medical leave to undergo surgery for pancreatic cancer. Then in 2009 he underwent a liver transplant. He nearly died while awaiting the operation, but eventually in Tennessee he received the liver of a mid-20s person who unfortunately died in a car crash but was generous enough to have been an organ donor. The experience made Jobs a staunch promoter of organ donation in California.

Earlier this year, he took his third medical leave as Tim Cook ran Apple's daily operations. Then in August, he sent a fateful letter to Apple's board, expressing that the day had come that he would no longer be able to meet his duties and expectations as Apple's CEO. He named Cook as his permanent successor.

Apple's core
Steve Jobs is survived by his wife of 20 years, Laurene, and four children. His last moments were described as peaceful, and he was surrounded by his family.

Jobs' legacy will forever reverberate through Apple's core. Although he has died, each of us who carries an iPhone with us every day, types articles on an iMac, or reads books on an iPad, immortalizes his essence in doing so and represents the only way we can truly thank him for all he has done for us.

Here's to you, Steve.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Walt Disney and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Walt Disney, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2011, at 10:55 PM, TheAssetManager wrote:

    Greatest Innovator, Visionary the world has ever seen. I feel sorry for his kids and wife.

    Rest In Peace

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 12:06 AM, stumptownbro wrote:

    iCried

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 12:19 AM, zsimpson wrote:

    Thank you, Mr. Jobs, for giving me so much without ever knowing me. You make us laugh and cry with Toy Story. You improved our communications, business, and social lives with Apple Computers. You put music in our lives everywhere we go with iPods and iTunes. You gave us books and classes to improve ourselves with the iPad and again with iTunes. And you made it easier to keep up with loved ones with Facetime.

    Thank you for so much, we will miss you.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 1:39 AM, MrProper wrote:

    USB, FIREWIRE, IPAD, IPHONE, MAC, and the list gos on. True Genius!!!

    R.I.P.

    Scott

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 2:10 AM, awallejr wrote:

    While I don't wish ill of the dead, I never liked Steve Jobs as a person. As a visionary, he wasn't when he thought computers. It was only when he changed directions and developed Itunes that the company eventually turned around.

    To his family my condolences.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 3:17 AM, TMFUltraLong wrote:

    I am a roaming encyclopedia of nearly 2000 companies. I can recite P/E ratios, competitors, products, earnings beats and misses; essentially any statistic you ever wanted to know about these companies practically from memory.

    But, if you asked me who the most important figureheads of business were over the past 100 years I can think of only three.

    Henry Ford for revolutionizing the transportation sector, Walt Disney for revolutionizing media, and Steve Jobs for revolutionizing the way we think about technology.

    Whether or not you cared for the man, it's without question that the world is a better place because of Steve Jobs' vision and the people from top to bottom that made the vision a reality. Literally no other company in modern times can be represented by a figurehead more than Apple was by Steve Jobs.

    My condolences to a visionary and a tip of my glass to the hope that his ideas continue to spur revolutionary thinking.

    TMFUltraLong (Sean)

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 3:54 AM, JayInJapan wrote:

    Although "figurehead" is the opposite of what Steve Jobs (and the other two) was (were), I have to agree with UltraLong in his sentiment. Steve Jobs changed just about everything in the way I read/write, and work/play.

    Thank you, Steve, for making my world a better place. RIP

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 6:04 AM, jmeringoh wrote:

    My Condolences to the fallen luminary in the world of digital electronics, business and entrepreneurship

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 8:43 AM, Morgana wrote:

    Isad

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 9:30 AM, UliMunich wrote:

    Here in Munich, Germany people are gathering in front of the Apple Store grieving for the loss of Steve. I can not imagine this happening for anybody else in Corporate America. He really has been "the friend i never met".

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 10:36 AM, Darwood11 wrote:

    "Steve Jobs and his accomplishments will never be forgotten"

    Well, that's a pretty strong statement and I don't agree; "never be forgotten" is a long, long time. In the "flip" or "buy today, sell in a few minutes" world of investing, ten years seems to be the equivalent of an eternity. How many trades can one make in 3,650 days???

    The history of computers and PC innovation is filled with the detritus of many, many people. I suppose it's good that Wiki exists, so we can read about this on our smartphones.

    I've thrown out decades of technological stuff, accumulated in the course of my work and produced by many, many companies which morphed or were purchased or simply vanished. Apple too has morphed and it's difficult to say where exactly they will be in 20 years.

    I do agree that it's primarily because of Jobs and Apple that I today am using a personal computer with a GUI. (Isn't it quaint to use that expression!!).

    The world and technology will continue to move forward into an uncertain future. Mr. Jobs has done an enviable job creating a company with great staying power, built on good design and a loyal customer base, which allowed the highest possible prices for the technology offered.

    Looking at the price of Apple products, its difficult to believe that much of the western world is struggling with debt, high unemployment and invisible bread lines (as in 99 weeks of unemployment comp. so people can buy "bread").

    Party on!

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 12:24 PM, PrudentCourier wrote:

    The Mac Plus literally changed my life, allowing me to start me own business. Thank you, Steve.

    A great man given only 56 years of life, while other ordinary people are given, sometimes, many more. Go Figure.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 12:51 PM, Tygered wrote:

    iMisshim.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 1:07 PM, zoningfool wrote:

    During a CNBC interview today, Steve Wozniak said Jobs always felt he would die young and that influenced how he lived. As expected as this moment was, it doesn't make it any easier to accept. I want to scream 'it's so unfair!' But death really is the the most fair of life's experiences. RIP, Steve Jobs.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 1:39 PM, maniladad wrote:

    I don't own an I-Pod or an I-Pad or a tablet and I have no idea of how to download music in an MP-3 format. But my first computer was an Apple 2E with a floppy disc that really was floppy and a total memory capacity measured in kilobytes and I've got a GP4, my first and only laptop, buried under the papers somewhere in my office. I think I may have a better sense than most of the extent of Steve Jobs' accomplishments in the context of the advances in electronics and computers during his lifetime. He's been compared to Thomas Edison but to make the comparison more accurate, Edison would have had to be a major contributor through the age of the vacuum tube, the transistor and the printed circuit to equal what Steve Jobs did in his short, truly amazing lifetime.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 2:15 PM, wowdwarf2 wrote:

    It is so crazy for me right this second,

    you see, Ive never owned a MAC, or Apple comp, not even an ipod or iphone (I am seriously considering one) I have been on the edge of buying an ipad since they came out, so I guess Ive never really had the "Apple experience" but I am still very very sad in Steve Jobs passing.

    He touched so many of us thru his movies and devices that he will always be missed.

    Just thought I'd try and say farewell to a friend I never met.

    Good buy Steve may God accept you and care for you!!

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 2:43 PM, fibreoptik wrote:

    ONE MORE THING...

    You're awesome Mr. Jobs!

    We will miss you.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 5:05 PM, skateforward wrote:

    The first time I saw those extremely large advertisements on SF buildings and billboards to "think differently" I felt I had to find out what was going on and took action. As Steve once said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." And I did just that. His creativity, passion and intelligence created a new paradigm. I'm an avid user of Apple products and he will be sorely missed. Not too many businesses transcend from "just" a company to the "personal" and have such an influence in people's lives and hearts.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2011, at 12:33 AM, thebuchsbaby wrote:

    Steve Jobs has been on my mind all day. My first Apple device was a Mac Classic in 1988. I will never forget taking it out of the box, plugging it in, turning it on and being introduced to MacIntosh by a wonderful animated tutorial. What other computer ever worked right out of the box?

    Three iMacs and three iPods later, I can't wait to get my hands on my next cell phone which will be an iPhone 4S.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2011, at 12:37 PM, agoldenlady wrote:

    Thank you, Steve Jobs, for having belief in humanity. For spurring us onto broader horizons in both personal and professional endeavors. While you will undoubtedly be remembered as a technological genius I hope that the world also recalls your ability to draw out the best in people of all ages.

    Through all the peaks and valleys of your journey here on earth you always operated with integrity and vision. Thank you, Steve Jobs for opening the door of human potential so wide.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2011, at 1:27 PM, seuvenn wrote:

    Steve Jobs - He made magic from common sense! His story and innovations will inspire many generations to come. I salute him and hope that his soul will find another creative mind and come back to inspire us once again. Amen.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2011, at 1:53 PM, PHARMIMAN wrote:

    HE MADE HIS VISIONS COME TRUE...THERE ARE STILL MANY ON THE BOARDS.....HIS AMAZING TEAM WILL KEEP HIS DNA ALIVE FOREVER....HE WAS TRULY AN AMAZING HUMAN....THE WORLD HAS LOST A GREAT MAN...MAY HIS FAMILY FIND PEACE IN THE FACT THAT THEY INTIMATELY KNEW A GREAT MAN AND HIS LEGACY WILL GO ON FOREVER.......RIP STEVE

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2011, at 2:06 PM, Hubie337 wrote:

    Bill Gates was the Einstein of the Tech Boom. He was a brilliant engineering type that's vision centered on making software and computures more useful, affordable, available and standardized going forward. Once Windows became the defacto business operating system, Microsoft created and maintained programs that would be useful in the business world. Word, Excel and Outlook to name a few. His products made us more productive and were fairly simple to use. It made him fabulously wealthy.

    Steve Jobs was the Picasso of the Tech Boom. He and Apple created works of Art that garnered legions of hard core fanatics of Apple's products. Apple created cutting edge, beautiful, awe inspiring products that were COOL. Comparing an Apple computer using the Lisa/Mac operating system in the 80s and 90s to any comparable Windows based machine was laughable. The MAC, even with its slower processors, was a work of art while the Window's based machines were funtional boxes with a monitor. Jobs was even fired from Apple at one point since he refused to sacrifice style and art for cost on the machines. Once he returned, the direction of Apple changed dramatically. They stepped completely out of the box and started bringing new and even cooler products to the public. The iPod, iPhone and iPad are far and away THE products to own in that market.

    Basically, Microsoft is the Ford of the tech world while Apple is Ferrari. Yeah, the Ferrari is more expensive and maybe not as functional but lets face it,.... its a Ferrari!

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2011, at 5:27 PM, fuzzylou wrote:

    What a great article.

    RIP Steve.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2011, at 8:16 AM, BJaveline wrote:

    Are angel investors still in America? Yes, Steve was a visionary but it is important to note that it was an investor who helped support the early stage company. What America needs is investors who not only are looking to pick the right stock, but also the right opportunity that is not yet at the public level. Angel investing also helps create jobs TODAY! I have found a few angels to help launch my new platform called www.MyOnlineToolbox.com. We have won a Forbes Most Promising Opportunity Award as well as a Dell Top 10 Innovator Award. We have also been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine. I welcome a conversation for those who believe in Software-as-a-Service, B-2-B and B-2-C collaboration platforms, and the home repair and remodeling industry. Please reference you found out about us from this site since I do believe there are people who are ex-entrepreneurs and executives who still see there is opportunities in the US just like Hewlett Packard, Apple and LinkedIn. I think creating a hot stock is more exciting then just picking one. Brian

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2011, at 4:05 AM, CaptainNeigh wrote:

    I don't know of a single vision ever except paint the phones and pc white and make them more ergonomic. wow what visions. why don't people get diploma papers like everyone and work hard.

    a little sensible character is wanted when talking about famous and wealthy people.

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