Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, dies aged 56

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right’.

It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – falls away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

When Apple co-founder Steve Jobs addressed students from Stanford ­University with those words in 2005 he had been living with pancreatic cancer for a year.

Yesterday, at the age of 56, the billionaire behind the Apple Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone finally succumbed to the disease – and made way for the new.

Fans mourned his death by lighting candles with a touch to their iPad screens at Apple stores around the world. US ­President Barack Obama led the millions of tributes, saying: “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”

Jobs’ father Abdulfattah Jandali was a Syrian professor teaching in San Francisco where he met student Joanne Carole Schieble. The couple had a baby boy in 1955 but decided to give him up for adoption.

His mother nearly refused to sign the papers after she discovered would-be adopters Paul and Clara Jobs had not gone to university but relented when the Armenian couple pledged that her son would go instead. They kept their promise but after only six months at Reed College, Oregon, Steve dropped out of his course. He travelled to India, returning in robes, and dabbled in drugs, describing taking LSD as “one of the two or three most ­important things I have done in life”.

After developing circuit boards for games firm Atari, he and old high school pal Steve Wozniak, together with Ronald Wayne, founded Apple in 1976. They designed the Apple I computer in Jobs’ parents’ garage, followed in 1977 by the Apple II, which was a big hit.

In 1984, they launched the Macintosh, which was to revolutionise the computer world with its pioneering use of graphics.

However, despite rave reviews, it sold poorly and Jobs found himself under ­pressure. He was often difficult to work with and was dubbed “one of Silicon Valley’s leading egomaniacs”.
His confrontational style led to a split at Apple and in 1985 he was forced out after a boardroom bust-up.

The ever-practical Jobs later said his firing was the best thing that could have happened to him. He set up computer company NeXT and bought what would become the hugely successful Pixar animation studio for a bargain $10 million.

Then, 11 years after his ousting, he was back at his spiritual home when Apple bought NeXT for $429million.

What followed was unimaginable success, with Jobs’ unquenchable drive and vision leading to a string of best-sellers, including the all-in-one iMac computer in 1998.

A fan of the Beatles, he had named his company Apple after the Fab Four’s record label, who allowed him to use it on condition he steered clear of music.

And so he did, until the 2001 launch of the portable iPod, an MP3 player which offered “1,000 songs in your pocket”.

It led to a lengthy battle which ended last year when the Beatles’ music went on sale on Apple’s iTunes. The company then became the world leader in telecommunications after the launch of the touch-screen iPhone in 2007. It saw scenes of near-hysteria at Apple outlets and the device went on to sell 100 million.

Away from work, Jobs was a fiercely private man. He had a son and two daughters with his wife Laurene Powell but also had a daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs, 33, from a previous relationship.

Her mother struggled on benefits when Jobs denied being her father, claiming he was sterile. But after another lengthy battle, Jobs finally admitted he was her dad.

“He had a love-hate relationship with his fame,” says biographer Alan Deutschman.

“Steve wanted it both ways. He enjoyed the celebrity and access it gave him, but wanted total control over his image.”

As he became increasingly ill from the pancreatic cancer which was to finally take his life, Jobs stood down from his CEO role at Apple in August.

He amassed a fortune estimated at £5.3billion but once said: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”


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