News

Steve Jobs dies at 56

Apple founder battled pancreatic cancer

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and the creative force behind the company's transformation into one of the world's most iconic and influential technology giants, died Wednesday, the company announced.

Jobs, who is perhaps the most prominent Palo Alto resident, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004. He resigned from his duties as the CEO of Apple on Aug. 24 but remained on the company's board of directors.

He was 56.

In a company statement, Apple said it "has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being."

"Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor," the company's statement said. "Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built; and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

Though best known worldwide as the man behind devices as the PowerBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and, most recently, the iPad, Jobs was also a familiar figure to local residents. He was frequently seen taking walks around his Old Palo Alto neighborhood with family members or companions.

He grew up in Los Altos and lived in Palo Alto nearly all of his adult life.

Neighborhood kids love the elaborate haunted house in the Jobs' front yard at Halloween, where the family is known to pass out non-sugary treats.

His children attended local public and private schools. His philanthropically active wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, sits on the board of Teach for America and co-founded a college prep program for underserved students that was launched in East Palo Alto and has expanded to Oakland, San Francisco and New Orleans.

Jobs himself was not active in Palo Alto's civic culture but was deeply rooted in the local tech community, and from a young age looked to his Silicon Valley elders for guidance.

A CEO by the age of 21, "he arranged at his own initiative to meet on a very regular basis with Bob Noyce of Intel, Andy Grove of Intel and, I believe, Jerry Sanders of AMD," said Noyce biographer Leslie Berlin, project historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford University.

Berlin spoke with the Weekly in August around the time Jobs resigned as CEO.

"In some very real way he apprenticed himself to these people. People see the supremely confident Steve Jobs -- and no doubt he was confident back then -- but he was very aware of what he didn't know," Berlin said.

"He talked about there being more or less a relay race in Silicon Valley where one generation of entrepreneurs passes the baton to the next generation: Hewlett and Packard to Noyce at Intel, who then passed it on to Jobs at Apple."

Jobs saw himself as part of that generational succession and is said to have paid it forward by helping the founders of Google when they approached him for advice, she said.

And, like Packard at HP, and Noyce and Gordon Moore at Intel, Jobs followed a Valley tradition of assuming the role of board chair after resigning as CEO.

Despite his early death, Jobs saw Apple through all but 11 years of its 35-year history in which the company evolved from its '60s-style hippie roots to a symbol of global chic -- from the peace symbol to the Mercedes symbol, some have said.

"Before Apple, and specifically before the Macintosh, there really wasn't any kind of 'cool factor' associated with the personal computer industry -- that's an understatement," said Henry Lowood, curator for history of science and technology collections in the Stanford University Libraries.

"Steve Jobs and Apple have certainly changed that."

The original Apple machine, born of meetings of Stanford's Homebrew Computer Club, "was basically a motherboard with 30 chips in it. Anyone using it had to know how to program in hexadecimal machine language -- it was very much 'gearhead to gearhead,'" Berlin said.

"It went through various permutations en route to the Mac and then after the Mac, and what's emerged now is not even Apple Computer anymore, it's just Apple.

"He wasn't at the helm for all of that time, but this is somebody who's been able to change as things needed to change and to push the change forward."

Aside from his qualities of salesmanship and execution of a vision, Jobs's design sensibility was the secret sauce the other companies have envied and never successfully duplicated, Lowood said.

"But important as design is, probably the characteristic that's the most important is he's somebody who has this unbelievable ability to have his company execute on a vision, specifically of what a product should be, and they don't really waver from that."

Jobs considered himself lucky to have found, early in life, what he loved to do.

Though devastated when he suffered the public humiliation of ouster from Apple following a 1985 power struggle, Jobs said in a 2005 commencement address at Stanford, that he knew he still loved what he did.

"I had been rejected, but I was still in love," he told graduates, urging them to find work they love and not settle for less.

"The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything."

The failure paved the way for "one of the most creative periods of my life," he said, in which he started NeXT and Pixar and met the woman who would become his wife. He returned to Apple in 1996.

In the Stanford speech Jobs also reflected on his early life as an adopted child and college dropout, and on facing the prospect of premature death after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2004.

"Remembering I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything --- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important," he said.

Apple's board or directors also released a statement Wednesday mourning Jobs' passing.

"Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives," the board's statement read. "The world is immeasurably better because of Steve."

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement:

"Steve Jobs was a great California innovator who demonstrated what a totally independent and creative mind can accomplish. Few people have made such a powerful and elegant imprint on our lives. Anne and I wish to express our deepest sympathy to Steve's wife, Laurene, and their entire family."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 6, 2011 at 6:57 am

Steve Jobs was a true creative genius who thought of ways to deliver intuitive computing, entertainment and communications in ways that no one else could even dream of doing. As ABC News said "He was the Thomas Edison of our Time". He will be sorely missed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2011 at 8:30 am

I think it is deplorable that ALMANAC runs a story about Steve Jobs which is equal in size to the story of a runaway croc.

Most of the RIGHT here is in for a surprise at the changes which are going to occur as a result of meetings which did include Jobs and the President and the billionaires who are squeaky clean.
Then, add two and two and you will probably find out why investigation rumors of the locals are not hallucinations, but based on protecting the piles of money which are part of anti Obama plans.
This area does not play fair, nor does it face the simple realities.Most of my time is out of the country, but I practically can see the happenings here live by Google in slo mo. Rumors do not just begin here in SAN MATEO COUNTY....they are in Sacramento, as well as Washington (if anyone read deeply into Attorney General's article) and in London where they know more about Silicon Valley than the average TWITter.
Again, there is more tribute being paid Jobs all over the world than in his own County. I find that immoral.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 6, 2011 at 9:47 am

Can someone translate what was written above by Mr. Gordon?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

Mr. Gordon, um, Steve Jobs was a Santa Clara County resident. There is much tribute being paid - check out his neighborhood, check out online commentary at PA Online and other places, incl Facebook, Twitter & local news. Yeah, some of his kids were educated in our county, & he also owned property in Woodside, but his most current residence was in Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

The County line means something here??? There are public memorials all over the world --- all over Europe, Australia, China, etc., in every important newspaper, on every TV channel...and countless websites --- but Menlo Park's silence is understandable because there's a county border. (Even tho the Jobs family lived in the county)

Steve Jobs changed our lives and the world.

NO excuse for the local silence...except that people are too busy quarreling over local parking issues.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Hank,

"Can someone translate what was written above by Mr. Gordon?"

We don't know if R. Gordon is a Mr. or Mrs. or Miss.

Steve Jobs R.I.P.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Neighbor, I suspect that you are mistaken somewhat because local people are commenting on PA Online's main page instead of The Almanac page, for the most part - makes sense to me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Hank, in answer to your question about a translation, here's one

"I'm Baaack!" (shudder)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm

R. Gordon - PLEASE take your meds.

Steve Jobs - you are, perhaps, the most inspirational person in the lives of those who were lucky enough to share this planet with you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2011 at 8:28 am

Thanks for the interest in me.

You are so typical.WHERE were you yesterday?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 7, 2011 at 9:24 am

Don't let Pogo get to you, R. I'm your buddy.


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