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Steve Jobs: a lifetime of visionary disruption in advancing technology

A Legend: 2011

Despite nearly inconceivable success both in completely reimagining Apple since the 1996 acquisition of NeXT into the world's largest public company and most profoundly important and powerful technology company of the last decade, and then performing a similar makeover of Disney following its acquisition of Pixar a decade later in 2006, Jobs finally met his match against the most brutal competitor of mankind, the cruel fate of a senseless assault within his physical body.

Jobs announced his struggle with pancreatic cancer in 2004, then went through surgery to remove the tumor, a procedure that appeared to be successful. He continued to deal with related health problems, apparently again in 2008, when his typical Macworld Expo keynote was delivered by Phil Schiller instead. Jobs later announced that he had "learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought," and took a second leave of absence for six months through the first half of 2009.

During that time, Jobs underwent a liver transplant, and reportedly was given an "excellent" prognosis. At the beginning of this year, Jobs announced a third medical leave of absence to "focus on his health," although he made public appearances in March at the iPad 2 launch, again in June to debut iCloud at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, and a second time in June to present plans to the Cupertino city council for building Apple Campus 2.

Jobs three public appearances in 2011 were each highly significant. The launch of iPad 2 was important enough to obliterate the market for competing tablets based on Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Windows 7, HP's webOS, and RIM's PlayBook QNX.

The debut of iCloud allowed Jobs to redefine the digital hub from being centered around a desktop computer to being a new generation of Internet cloud services that will be hosted by Apple, instantly updating music, photos, apps, video and documents wirelessly between devices and computers with the same intuitive, but deceptively complex technology that supports push messaging.

Jobs first outlined his future vision for cloud computing for Apple in a presentation at WWDC 1997, where he described cloud storage network technologies put into place at NeXT over the previous decade. Over a decade later, Jobs described at WWDC 2011 how Apple would be deploying just that as its "next big insight" as iCloud later this year.

Finally, Jobs' legacy will be further enshrined in Apple Campus 2, a futuristic, actively functional landmark of curved glass set among a repopulated forest of apricots and other trees centered within Cupertino, the city he grew up in and where he founded, and then rescued, his vision for a technology company making insanely great, intuitive tools for mainstream audiences to use, love and admire.

August 24, Jobs announced he could "no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO," and recommended that Tim Cook serve as his replacement. Jobs continued to sit on Apple's board as Chairman. October 5, Apple announced Jobs had passed away, just one day after announcing his final product to see released at Apple, the iPhone 4S.

Jobs, along with Wozniak, were awarded among America's first to receive a National Medal of Technology from President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Jobs was named the most powerful person in business in 2007 by Fortune, the same year he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2009, Jobs was named CEO of the Decade by Fortune. Last year, the Financial Times named Jobs its 2010 person of the year. Jobs was 56.

"No one wants to die," Jobs told his Stanford commencement audience in 2005. "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. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Jobs concluded his advice to college grads with the words, "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."