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How Apple and Steve Jobs Changed the World

MUO logo MUO 5/21/2022 Lucus Newman
© Provided by MUO

Today, Apple is a household name. Everyone knows products like the iPod, the iPhone, and the Mac. If you don’t own an Apple product yourself, you probably know somebody who does. But Apple’s success didn’t come overnight. Game changing innovations like the iPod and iPhone pushed Apple into the limelight, and turned computers from tools to a huge part of our everyday lives.

Here’s how Apple and it’s co-founder, Steve Jobs, changed the world.

The Original Macintosh: A Computer Anyone Could Use

Apple began in 1976 as a partnership between Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. The company famously began operating out of the garage of Steve Jobs’ parent’s home. Even from the company’s beginning, Apple always had a unique style. While many companies then and now are focused on mass-producing products at a low cost, Apple’s priorities were always for its products to be not only powerful, but easy to use.

This idea of making computers accessible to anyone could really be seen in the first Macintosh. At a time when you needed to know basic coding to operate a computer, the Macintosh was operated with a mouse and graphical interface, much like computers today. It wasn’t just for hobbyists and people in the computer industry, this was a product anyone could jump into.

Without the original Macintosh there would be no modern day Macs, and the evolution of computers from niche products to essential tools for everyone may have been delayed by years or even decades.

The iMac: Technology as Art

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Although Apple had made a huge name for itself in the computer industry by 1997, things weren’t going so well. After a series of less-than-stellar product launches, the company was close to bankruptcy. But Jobs had a radical plan to turn Apple around. At a time when many of Apple’s competitors were focused on producing desktop towers and business software, Jobs decided to take Apple in a completely different direction.

Steve Jobs often called Apple the “intersection between technology and liberal arts,” meaning Apple’s products were designed not only to be cutting-edge technology, but to be stylish, intuitive, and easy to use. That vision was expressed in many Apple products of this era, culminating in the release of the first iMac.

At a time when most companies were releasing bland, beige desktop towers, the iMac featured 13 colors, ranging from blue, to purple, or even to floral prints. This was one of the first times that the public saw technology as art instead of just a tool for productivity, and we’ve rarely looked back.

The iPod: A New Way to Listen to Music

In 2001 Apple expanded on that vision and dropped a real game changer, the first iPod. The iPod wasn’t the world’s first MP3 player, but it was the one that captured the hearts and minds of millions across the world. A big part of that was Apple’s branding and marketing.

Many people fondly remember those funky iPod ads with silhouettes and white earbuds. The iPod was a great piece of technology, but it wasn’t just about how many songs it could hold, it was about how it made you feel. The iPod turned tech from a sterile tool, into a part of our identities.

The iPod caught on big time, but although Apple had given millions of people a way to listen to music, they still needed a better way to get new music. All of that changed in 2003 with the launch of the iTunes Store. Instead of burning CDs or turning to questionable websites, you could download almost any song you wanted on iTunes for just $0.99 each. This was a win-win-win. Consumers were able to easily get the content they wanted, music labels and artists had a new way to get their songs out, and with every transaction on iTunes, Apple took a cut.

This type of business model became a huge success for not only Apple, but many other companies as well. Without iTunes, there wouldn’t be an App Store, but there also wouldn’t be a Google Play Store. Even though most people have moved on from iTunes to music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, these services evolved from the idea of centralizing and distributing content online, which started with iTunes and the iPod.

The iPhone: The First Modern Smartphone

In 2007 Apple released the first iPhone, which many consider the first modern smartphone. The iPhone took what was great about the iPod and ramped it up a notch. Combining design, technology, and emotion. It was a huge commercial success at the time, and the iPhone remains Apple’s highest selling product to this day.

Perhaps most importantly, the iPhone made it easy to get online. Other “smart” devices of the time had access to mobile data, but they often couldn’t access full websites. Even those that did have a simple browser had to be operated with a clunky stylus or keypad. Unlike those devices, the iPhone could access the real web, taking one of the first steps towards turning the internet into something we accessed at home, that we could take anywhere with us.

Whether you’re an iPhone fanatic or you prefer Android, your smartphone wouldn’t look like it does today without the first iPhone. And not too long after releasing the iPhone, Apple came up with the iPad, introducing smart tablets to the masses in the process.

What’s Next for Apple?

Steve Jobs helped Apple grow from his parents’ garage to one of the largest most successful companies on Earth. However, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Jobs passed away in 2011. Even though Steve Jobs is now gone, there’s no question that his vision and the company he helped create has done nothing short of change the world.

In the years since Steve Jobs’ death, Apple’s focus has been more on refining existing products than releasing entirely new ones. That being said, Apple has continued to pioneer many advances in smartphone and mobile computing technology. There’s no question that Apple’s past successes have been legendary, but with more competition than ever, can Apple continue to innovate and stay on top?

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