This month will see the release of the highly anticipated Steve Jobs biopic, Jobs. Starring Ashton Kutcher, the film is sure to spark discussions about the legacy of the late Apple founder. It has been almost two years since Jobs passed away but his impact is still being felt across the world. With a reputation as a demanding and uncompromising manager, he was also a true visionary – pushing forward innovative products and designs that have forever changed the face of technology. For a sample of Steve Jobs’ impact on the technological landscape, here are 10 of Apple’s most revolutionary products.
While the ‘Apple I’ was a low-selling circuit board cobbled together by Steve Wozniak in Steve Jobs’ parents garage, the Apple II was the machine that put Apple Computers on the map. Released in 1977, and largely designed by Wozniak, with input from Jobs, this was one of the first ever commercially successful personal computers. It paved the way for the smashing success that was to come.
Released in 1984, this revolutionary home computer was launched with a groundbreaking ad that referenced George Orwell’s 1984. Besides being a significant moment in advertising, the computer itself was as revolutionary as the commercial said it would be. The Mac was one of the first personal computers that had a graphical user interface (with windows and icons), and came complete with a mouse (which was significant at the time). As a token of thanks, the Apple board of directors fired Steve Jobs in 1985. He was pissed, but then he started Pixar, because that is what Steve Jobs does when he’s angry.
The laptop version of the macintosh was Apple’s first real foray into portable computing. It pioneered modern laptop design, with the mouse in the middle, below the keyboard. The first Powerbooks took over 40% of the laptop market when they were released in 1991. While the macintosh line continued to sell well for a time, Apple did nearly nothing notable (except almost go bankrupt) until Jobs returned in the late ’90s.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he revived their old principles of simplicity and high-design. The iMac G3 helped save Apple from bankruptcy upon its release in 1998. Aside from being the first product with Apple’s trademark ‘i’ prefix, it also was a master-stroke of good design. Coming in many bright colours, the iMac stood out in a crowd of typical boxy beige PC’s.
In 2001, Steve Jobs probably held some sort of meeting (as CEO’s tend to do) and told his computer people to “go ahead and staple a media player to a hard drive, and somebody please get me a goddamn soda.” They were all out of staples, so they invented the iPod instead (no word on whether he got his soda). The iPod was the next evolution in portable music players, and was supported by Apple’s online music store known as…
With people sharing (read: stealing) music all over the place, it was clear by the early 2000s that music distribution had to change in a fundamental way. iTunes, originally a media player and music library, launched their online music store in 2003, and did just that: providing a platform for major stars and garage bands alike to sell music online.
In 2007, Steve Jobs said something along the lines of, “Hey, remember when we strapped a hard drive to a media player? What would you say if we gave it a touchscreen and wi-fi capabilities, and then bolted a cell phone onto it? Oh, wait, I don’t care what you think, I’m Steve Jobs.” People liked it.
So a few years later Steve Jobs was all like, “Hey, you know how all you do on the computer is Facebook, YouTube, photos, music, and email? Yeah, you don’t need a keyboard, mouse, or fancy processor for any of those things. Let me just make a giant iPod-touch for you. Trust me, you’ll like it.” People liked it.
The Macbook Air is like the laptops that came before it – except super light, thin, and sleek with machined aluminum. If it wasn’t a computer, you could probably make an airplane out of it. Portable, functional, and damn good looking. A Jobsian masterpiece.
The stalwart of the working artist, this is the laptop of choice for graphic designers, photographers, audio engineers, and creative-persons of all stripes. It’s got loads of processing power and memory, plus plenty of screen real-estate, and Apple’s trademark ‘design-first’ aesthetic.
Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs certainly pushed the ball forward when it comes to technological innovation and consumer-oriented designs. The movie drops on August 16th.