February 24, 1955 — October 5, 2011
Co-founder of Apple Computer
Founder of NeXT Computer
CEO of Pixar
When Steve Jobs was inaugurated into the Computer Hall of Fame in 2000, it was for his incomparable skill at marketing the Apple brand, for bringing the graphical user interface (GUI) to market with the Apple Lisa and then Macintosh, for helping create a viable market for high-end CPU-based "workstations" with NeXT Computer and for developing digital animation as a mature technology at Pixar
At the time of his induction, he had only recently returned to Apple as CEO after his 1985 ouster (although the iMac was already showing that Apple was again a force to be reckoned with). Still ahead of him (although of course none of us knew it at the time) were Apple's release of iTunes, the iPod, iPhone and iPad – products that combined to make Apple the richest American company by market valuation.
But even this impressive list does not fully capture Steve Jobs' impact on the Computer Revolution. No other major figure bridged the age of the personal computer from the era of the garage hobbyist to its dominance of the consumer electronics market.
As a teenager, Jobs worked at Atari, where he helped Atari founder and fellow inductee Nolan Bushnell finish the arcade game "Breakout" in 1975. A year later, he helped his friend, fellow inductee and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sell his Apple I kit computer – then a year later brought to market the fully assembled Apple II that helped launch the personal computer (along with Radio Shack's TRS-80, introduced the same month). At the time of his death, Jobs was overseeing development of a fully integrated multimedia center, combining iTunes and a TV.
In between, his initiatives with Apple brought computer fonts to the market, and, when combined with the Apple LaserWriter, introduced desktop publishing (rapidly and radically lowering the price of typesetting), proved that digital music could be sold legally and profitably, and proved the viability of the "tablet computer" with the iPad.
On his death from cancer, Jobs was hailed around the globe, eulogized by heads of state and former rivals alike – often called the Edison of his generation.