Society

Steve Jobs' Greatest Hits (and Misses)

| by Michael Allen

If Albert Einstein and Walt Disney had a child, he would probably be Steve Jobs, who passed away yesterday at the age of 56. Jobs' influence stretched from tech to entertainment, and beyond.

As his rival Biill Gates said yesterday: "Steve Jobs' impact will last for generations." Here is a quick rundown of Jobs' hits and misses (yes, he had a few).

THE HITS...

The Mouse. In 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh 128K, the first computer that abandoned text-only commands in favor of a graphical user interface. Along with it came the mouse, a device which is so crucial to modern computing that it hasn't changed in nearly three decades.

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Pixar Studios. Originally an arm of Lucas Film, Pixar provided special effects for George Lucas' films. But over time Lucas grew tired of funding the unit. Enter Steve Jobs who doled out tens of millions of dollars for years as Pixar lost money, but honed its skills. Pixar became a huge player in Hollywood and was eventually bought by Disney.

iPod. While corporate America wrung its hands and stamped its feet over music downloading, Jobs saw a huge opportunity. As record stores closed en masse, Jobs spearheaded the iPod, the perfect tool for downloaders (legal and otherwise).

iTunes. The perfect compliment to the iPod, iTunes changed the face of online retailing, capitalizing on digital downloading. Eventually record fans could buy their favorite songs for 99 cents without having to buy an entire album to get their favorite tune.

iPhone. Phone companies had always had the final word when it came to phone design, but Jobs, once again, changed the rules of the game. He convinced a reluctant AT&T to go along with the iPhone which spawned a host of droid imitators.

THE MISSES...

Apple III. The 1981 successor to the popular Apple II was focused on business users, but the hardware was unreliable. Apple lost the business market to the IBM PC (thanks to Bill Gates) and a rapidly expanding market of PC clones.

Lisa. The first commercially produced computer with a graphical user interface cost a whopping $9,995 when it launched, but fell into the shadow of the cheaper Macintosh.

NeXT Computer. After being forced out of Apple in 1989, Jobs created a computer that was ahead of its time, but, like Lisa, was also too expensive to catch on with mainstream users.

The Cube. This small desktop computer was encased in a cube of clear plastic, won design awards, but was a flop in stores because of its high price (again). The Cube idea lives on in the Mac Mini, a more successful, but less eye-catching small Mac.



Apple TV. This device was a small box that connected to a TV and to a Mac in the home. A remote allowed the owner to play music and movies from the PC on the TV, but it was expensive and complicated to set up and use. Movies purchased from iTunes were low resolution and looked blurry on HDTV sets.

THE GREAT QUOTE...

In a 1994 Rolling Stone interview, Steve Jobs said: “If you say, well, how do you feel about Bill Gates getting rich off some of the ideas that we had … well, you know, the goal is not to be the richest man in the cemetery. It’s not my goal anyway.”