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How Steve Jobs revolutionised technology

The head of Apple from 1976 to 2011, Steve Jobs revolutionised the world of computers, music, and telephones. Here's a look back at these sectors before and after Steve Jobs.


Steve Jobs tried during his time at Apple to make new technology both aesthetically appealing and user-friendly.

The approach allowed Apple to become the second richest company in terms of market value, and also to influence most of its competitors.

The iMac introduces a world of colour

The iMac G3 (left) and the IBM PC 5150 (right).
The iMac G3 (left) and the IBM PC 5150 (right).

Before the iMac, desktop computers were ugly, heavy, and complicated. That, in any case, is the message the Jobs and Apple wanted to communicate to the world when it presented the machine in 1998.

The design of the first iMac G3 indeed has nothing to do with the traditional grey, sad boxes that sat upon desks around the world back in the day.

The iMac had an original look and innovative technical functions. It was the first computer to offer an in-built modem and it was marketed as the easiest to use of all computers on the market. Moreover, the publicity campaign for the iMac emphasised the machine’s simplicity compared to a traditional PC. The iMac’s rivals would, with varying degrees of success, use the same marketing strategy of highlighting aesthetic appeal, simplicity, and easy internet access.

The iPod, symbol of MP3's dominance

A first-generation iPod (left) and the Minidisc player (right).
A first-generation iPod (left) and the Minidisc player (right).

In 2001, Steve Jobs picked up his magic wand again to transform the world of music. The iPod, which was first released October 23, 2001, was not the first mp3 player on the market, but it soon became the symbol of the digital revolution.

It was, in fact, in 1998, that Asian company SaeHan Information Systems released the first portable digital audio player, the MPMan. Other brands, like France’s Archos and Japan’s Sony, also put similar products out before Apple jumped into the game.

Jobs’ iPod was user-friendly and had a far more attractive design than the earlier versions. Overall, Apple has sold more than 314 million iPods (if the various models are counted) since 2001.

iPhone, a world-wide success

The first-generation iPhone (left) and the classic mobile telephone (right).
The first-generation iPhone (left) and the classic mobile telephone (right).

Before the arrival of the iPhone, people thought mobile telephones were for making phone calls. But once more, Jobs’ genius would transform the concept. He totally revolutionised the telephone industry on January 9, 2007, when the first-model of his blockbuster product was put on sale.

The iPhone made smartphones – telephones which also afford internet access and provided several other applications previously available only on computers – more attractive to the average consumer. It was another instance of Jobs using an old recipe to succeed: a supremely simple, but unique appearance.

The success was immediate and the original iPhone sold 6.1 million copies world-wide. The iPhone 3 was introduced on the market on June 9, 2008, adding another money-making feature to the device: the App Store, which allowed users to download different applications directly on their phone. The feature has earned Apple roughly 900 million dollars since 2009.

iPad, the impossible gamble

The iPad (left) and the first ASUS netbook, the Eee PC (right).
The iPad (left) and the first ASUS netbook, the Eee PC (right).

With the iPad, Apple ventured for the first time into an unexplored world. Until then, Jobs had improved already-existing technology. But when he unveiled his line of touch-screen tablet computers in 2010, there were no competitors in sight.

Some people reacted with skepticism to Jobs’ gamble, questioning the usefulness of a hybrid product somewhere between a laptop computer and a smartphone. But they would soon have no choice but to concede the obvious: the iPad was a success. In one year, the iPad 1 and 2 sold nearly 29 million copies, and despite attempts by Samsung, HP, and Motorola, the device still has not serious rival.

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