Computer Science Illuminated, Third Edition

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Chapter 10: Operating Systems

Steve Jobs

Born in 1955, Steve Jobs is probably best known for inventing Apple Computers together with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976. At the time, most computers were either mainframes (sometimes as large as a small room) or minicomputers (about the size of a refrigerator),often anything but user friendly, and almost exclusively used by big businesses. Jobs had a vision of a personal computer that would be accessible to everyone. He is often credited with democratizing the computer.

Jobs and Wozniak designed the Apple I in Jobs' bedroom and built it in the garage of his parents' house. Jobs and Wozniak sold their prize possessions (a Volkswagen microbus and Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator, respectively) to raise the $1,300 capital with which they founded their company. Four years later, Apple went public. At the end of the first day of trading, the company had a market value of $1.2 billion.

Jobs headed the team that developed the Apple Macintosh (named after the McIntosh apple), perhaps the most famous of the Apple computers. The Macintosh was the first commercially successful computer to be launched with a graphical user interface and a mouse. Shortly after the launch of the Macintosh, Jobs was forced out of Apple after a power struggle with John Sculley, Apple's CEO at the time.

Having been ousted from the company he founded, Jobs began another computer company, NeXT, which was purchased by Apple in 1996 for $402 million. Not only did the acquisition bring Jobs back to his original company, but it also made him CEO of Apple. Under his renewed leadership, Apple launched the iMac, which has been described as the "gold standard of desktop computing."

In 1986, Jobs moved into the field of computer-generated animation when he bought a computer graphics company and renamed it Pixar. Pixar has produced a number of box-office hits, including A Bug's Life, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo.

Jobs, himself a university drop-out, gave the 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, in which he imparted the following piece of career advice to the graduates: "You've got to find what you love."

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