Steve Jobs's impact was so significant that it's difficult to
find the words to describe his influence on business, technology,
and society, even 10 years after his death. It's hard to even
narrow down the products released under his watch to a list of just
five. But we tried anyway. Here's our list the most memorable
products released during Steve Jobs's tenure with Apple.
Everyone remembers the Mac (see item two on this list), but the
Apple II is the first product that really got
Apple going as a business. The first mass-produced computer by the
company in 1977, the Apple II succeeded the Apple I, which was not
a success. Steve Wozniak was the brains behind its technical
implementation, but Jobs saw the importance of having a design that
was approachable to everyone, not just computer nerds.
The Apple II also established Apple's method of success. It
wasn't the first personal computer on the market or even the first
from Apple, but it was an ideal combination of features and design
that worked extremely well and was better than anything else on the
market. It worked so well that Apple sold the Apple II line for
more than 15 years.
The making of the Mac has been widely covered, so here's
a quick overview. Apple was riding on the success of the Apple II,
but it needed to work on its eventual successor. Apple had two GUI
platforms in development that could follow up the Apple II: Lisa
and the Macintosh. After being forced out of the Lisa project, Jobs
went to work on the Mac team. Lisa failed, and, well, if you don't
know the rest, you can figure it out.
Some may argue that, if you consider the dominance of Windows
PCs, the Mac was only a modest success. But every major product
Apple has released has its roots in the original Mac. Apple—and
possibly the entire PC industry—wouldn't be where it is today
Mac OS X
It's not the first version of the Macintosh operating system,
but Mac OS X is the most important version. It came at a time when
the current OS MacOS 9, was out of date, and Apple desperately need a modern version. After
several stops and starts, Apple started looking outside of its
doors to find what it needed—and hit pay dirt.
Years earlier, Steve Jobs had left Apple to start a new company
called NeXT. It wasn't a mainstream success on the level of Apple,
but it got people's attention, particularly its object-oriented
NeXTSTEP operating system. So when Apple started shopping for a new
OS, it was hard to ignore Jobs's company. In 1997, Apple bought
NeXT, bringing Jobs back to a leadership role and setting the
foundation for the transformation of both Apple and the Mac.
OS X wasn't important just for Mac hardware. When Apple released
the iPhone, it proudly proclaimed that its operating system was
based on OS X. It's a testament to Steve's genius and legacy, and
the fuel that makes Apple hardware run.
The late 1990s saw the emergence of digital music and the MP3
player. While numerous players were on the market, Jobs thought
Apple could make a better one, and the company released its first
non-Mac product since the Newton called iPod in 2001. A product
that the company originally thought would be a nice complement to its Macs, the iPod sold in the
millions and carried Apple's growth right up until the iPhone
arrived in 2007.
The iPod also had a major influence on Apple's product
development, since it was the first hub device that demonstrated
tight integration between a device (iPod), software (iTunes), and
an online service (iTunes Music Store). That integration is key
with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac, and no doubt it'll be
part of whatever Apple comes up with in the future.
You're probably quite familiar with the iPhone's origins, so we won't dive into its history
other than to say it's Apple's singular most groundbreaking
product, even more than the Mac. It's not just the most important
product made under Steve Jobs, it's Apple's most important product
ever and one of the most significant tech products of all time.
Yes, the iPhone stands on the shoulders of the other products in
this list, but it has created its own legacy and dramatically
changed the landscape. Years from now, when we eventually move
beyond phones as our primary devices, the iPhone will be the basis
for the future, cementing Steve Jobs' legacy long after the
products he designed are in the history books.
One more thing
While Steve will always be remembered for the devices he brought
into the world, it was his showmanship that perhaps made the
biggest impact. The products were always great, but it's his
introductions that will always be remembered: pulling the MacBook
Air out of an envelope, the iMac rising out of the stage, removing
the iPad nano from his jeans pocket, and of course, all of those One More Things. But what stands out
the most is the iPhone keynote. When Steve took the stage at
Macworld San Francisco in January 2007, the world had no idea that
everything was about to change. But Steve knew. That keynote was
nothing less than a masterpiece on the level of Queen at Wembley Stadium or Led Zeppelin at Royal Albert Hall. Apple events
are still must-see TV, but nothing will ever compare to Steve's
command of the stage, the crowd, and the next big thing.