Steve Jobs: 1997-2011
In his third act, Jobs led Apple on a run of success unprecedented in corporate history
Steve Jobs was not accustomed to boos, but there he was, on stage at the airy and decrepit Park Plaza Castle auditorium in Boston, absorbing a crescendo of unhappiness. It was 1997, the year Jobs replaced Gil Amelio and declared himself “interim CEO” of Apple, saying he was too busy with Pixar and family to take over permanently. At the annual Macworld Expo that August, Jobs told the long-suffering Apple faithful that there was still hope for the computer company but that it would first have to put aside its all-too-consuming fixation with its dominant rival, Microsoft.
Sept. 16: It's an auspicious day in the history of Steve Jobs. It's the day he quit Apple and the day he returned.
Jobs resigned as chairman of Apple Computer on Sept. 16, 1985, after losing a boardroom battle for control of the company with then-CEO John Sculley.
Jobs had co-founded Apple seven years earlier with his hacker friend Steve Wozniak. A pair of teenagers, the two Steves had little idea how to grow the hot company at the dawn of the soon-to-be-giant PC industry.
Jobs helped recruit Sculley from Pepsi-Cola, where Sculley had shown a genius for lifestyle advertising. The pair ran Apple as co-CEOs but fell out and took their differences to the board. Though a visionary, the board decided Jobs was too volatile for the lead role. So he quit.
On the same day he resigned, Jobs submitted incorporation papers to the California secretary of state for the name of his new company, NeXT Computer.
NeXT was Jobs' revenge. Jobs founded NeXT with the express purpose of running Apple into the ground. NeXT would develop computers that were far better than anything Apple could offer, and Apple would soon be out of business.
NeXT never did put Apple out of business, and for the next 10 years just barely survived itself. It did, however, produce a fantastic operating system, NeXTStep, which many praised as ahead of its time.
In December 1996, Apple bought NeXT for $400 million. It wanted NeXTStep to form the basis of a new, modern operating system, one that didn’t crash every time Netscape Navigator was launched.
Jobs came on board as an informal adviser to then-CEO Gil Amelio. But within months, the board fired Amelio after Apple suffered one of the biggest quarterly losses in Silicon Valley history.
Jobs was initially reluctant to take a role at Apple. His other company, Pixar, had just released its first movie, Toy Story, to great acclaim. But he soon found himself putting in more time at Apple, working hard to whip it into shape.
On Sept. 16, 1997, Apple announced that Jobs had officially been named interim CEO, or – as the company cleverly put it – iCEO.