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I-pod, i-phone, i-tunes, i-pad, i-man Steve Jobs bows out

Steven Paul Jobs, by any definition a phenomenon that helped shape the digital age passed on in the early hours of Thursday, October 6, at the age of 56. Before then, there had been talk about his health. When earlier in the year Jobs appeared in a black turtle-neck at at an Apple dealers’ conference, not a few hearts went out to him, given his gaunt appearance, accentuated by the baggy-looking denims he wore.

Jobs, co-founder and chief executive of Apple Inc, until last week when the board of the company appointed Tim Cook to replace him, gave profound meaning to computing in his relatively short career in the industry.

While computing went mobile with the coming of the laptop, Jobs’ innovation deepened that meaning with the coming of first, the i-Pod, then the i-Phone, and later, the i-Pad. Suddenly, man found himself in another sub-age of the technological age, the age of tablet computing.

Steve Jobs...extraordinarily gifted American

Like his age peer, Bill Gates (also born 1955) who sits astride the software world like a colossus, so also did Jobs in the hardware arena. In the seventies, along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula and others – designed, developed, and marketed one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series.

Commercial potential

In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of Xerox PARC’s mouse-driven graphical user interface, which led to the creation of the Macintosh. In 1985, Jobs could no longer see eye-to-eye with his board, and after a power struggle he resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher-education and business markets. In 1996, Jobs was to return to Apple as the company bought over NeXT, and he returned as CEO from 1997 until 2011.

In 1986, he acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd which was spun off as Pixar Animation Studios. He remained CEO and majority shareholder at 50.1 percent until its acquisition by The Walt Disney Company in 2006. Consequently Jobs became Disney’s largest individual shareholder at seven percent and a member of Disney’s Board of Directors. On August 24, 2011, Jobs announced his resignation from his role as Apple’s CEO.

One aspect of Jobs’ life many could not understand was his decision to earn only one dollar a year as chief executive of Apple. But against the backdrop of the fact that he held 5.426 million Apple shares, as well as 138 million shares in Disney (which he had received in exchange for Disney’s acquisition of Pixar), his net wealth, estimated at $8.3 billion in 2010, which made him the 42nd wealthiest American, he did not miss anything.

However, this extraordinarily gifted American was not without his own share of controversies. In 2001, he was granted stock options in the amount of 7.5 million shares of Apple with an exercise price of $18.30. It was alleged that the options had been backdated, and that the exercise price should have been $21.10. It was further alleged that Jobs had thereby incurred taxable income of $20,000,000 that he did not report, and that Apple overstated its earnings by that same amount. As a result, Jobs potentially faced a number of criminal charges and civil penalties.

The case is the subject of active criminal and civil government investigations, though an independent internal Apple investigation completed on December 29, 2006, found that Jobs was unaware of these issues and that the options granted to him were returned without being exercised in 2003. On July 1, 2008, a $7 billion class action suit was filed against several members of the Apple Board of Directors for revenue lost due to the alleged securities fraud.


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