Steven Jobs did more than any of the other young firebrands of
Silicon Valley in the early 1980s to convince the world that
the personal computer could be an essential tool for every man,
woman, and ultimately, child. That vision helped move
computers-especially his Apple II and Macintosh computers-into
nearly every school and ignited a technology buying spree by
U.S. educators that continues to this day.
It was far from a pure triumph, though. Jobs' mercurial,
divisive style in helping run Apple Computer Inc. made the
company weaker as it faced mounting competition from ibm and
other companies entering the budding PC market.
And many educators who became Apple loyalists were more
impressed by Stephen Wozniak, the brilliant co-founder of the
company who invented the first Apple computer and the Apple
Born in 1955 and adopted by a family that later moved to Los
Altos, Calif., Jobs was a high school friend of the older
Wozniak, an electronics genius. In 1977, Wozniak and Jobs,
along with Mike Markkula, incorporated Apple Computer, for a
while based in Jobs' garage.
With brash marketing led by Jobs, Wozniak's elegant machines
caught the first wave of popular enthusiasm for microcomputers.
Jobs' vision of the computers as appliances for everyman played
well in the media and helped attract exceptional talent to the
The Apple II won the hearts of thousands of teachers in the
1980s, in part because the company offered schools its best
computers, practical software, and free computer course
materials. The giant International Business Machines Corp., by
contrast, initially offered the school market the underpowered
PC Jr., with little support.
Apple was also unmatched in its discounted pricing schemes,
its extensive support for software development and research,
and its conferences and training that catered to educators.
In 1983, Jobs took over the development of the Macintosh
computer, but caused a schism in the company between the
Macintosh and Apple II divisions. In 1985, Apple Chief
Executive Officer John Sculley engineered the ouster of Jobs,
who resigned and started another computer company, NextStep,
which was considered a failure. A year later, Jobs bought a
stake in the successful movie company Pixar Animation
When Apple foundered in the 1990s, Sculley's successor, Gil
Amelio, brought Jobs back as a consultant, only to see the
Apple board of directors pick Jobs to displace him as interim
ceo in 1997. Apple has seen a recovery under a more mature
Jobs, with popular new lines of computers and the reappearance
of the friendly media buzz that the company once enjoyed.