On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc., which revolutionized the computer, music and mobile communications industries with such devices as the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, dies at age 56 of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, to unmarried graduate students Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian immigrant, Jobs was adopted as a baby by Paul Jobs, a Silicon Valley machinist, and his wife Clara. After graduating from high school in Cupertino, California, in 1972, Jobs attended Reed College, a liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, for a single semester before dropping out. He later worked briefly for pioneering video game maker Atari in California, traveled to India and studied Zen Buddhism.

In 1976, Jobs and his computer engineer friend Stephen Wozniak founded Apple Computer in Jobs’ parents’ garage in Los Altos, California. As Bloomberg News would later note about Jobs: “He had no formal technical training and no real business experience. What he had instead was an appreciation of technology’s elegance and a notion that computers could be more than a hobbyist’s toy or a corporation’s workhorse. These machines could be indispensable tools.” In 1977, Jobs and Wozniak launched the Apple II, which became the first popular personal computer. In 1980, Apple went public and Jobs, then in his mid-20s, became a multimillionaire. Four years later, Apple debuted the Macintosh, one of the first personal computers to feature a graphical user interface, which allowed people to navigate by pointing and clicking a mouse rather than typing commands.

In 1985, Jobs left the company following a power struggle with Apple’s board of directors. That same year, he established NeXT, a business that developed high-performance computers. The machines proved too pricey to gain a wide consumer audience; however, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web using a NeXT workstation. In 1986, Jobs acquired a small computer-graphics studio founded by filmmaker George Lucas and rechristened it Pixar Animation Studios. In 1995, Pixar released its first film, “Toy Story,” the first-ever feature-length, computer-animated movie. It became a huge box-office success and was followed by such award-winning hits as “Finding Nemo” (2003) and “The Incredibles” (2004). In 2006, Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar for more than $7 billion, making Jobs the largest Disney shareholder.

In late 1996, Apple, which had floundered without Jobs, announced it would buy NeXT and hire Jobs as an advisor. The following year, he became Apple’s interim CEO (the “interim” was dropped in 2000), and under his leadership a nearly bankrupt Apple was transformed into one of the planet’s most valuable corporations. A charismatic, demanding perfectionist, Jobs was said to possess the ability to intuit what customers wanted before they knew it themselves. In his trademark jeans and black mock turtleneck, the tech titan turned product launches into highly anticipated events, and Apple introduced a series of innovative digital devices, including the iPod portable music player in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad tablet computer in 2010, that became part of everyday modern life. (In early 2007, Jobs announced that Cupertino-based Apple was dropping “Computer” from its official moniker to reflect the fact the company’s focus had shifted from computers-only to mobile electronic devices).

Despite a series of medical issues, including surgery in 2004 to remove a pancreatic tumor and a 2009 liver transplant, Jobs continued to lead Apple until August 24, 2011, when he stepped down as the company’s chief executive. Six weeks later, he passed away at his Palo Alto, California, home. At the time of his death, Jobs, a father of four, had a net worth estimated at more than $7 billion. According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs “was the greatest business executive of our era, the one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.”

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

New York Times publishes bombshell investigation into allegations against Harvey Weinstein

On October 5, 2017, The New York Times publishes a detailed investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein. The bombshell report led to Weinstein’s eventual arrest and conviction on charges of rape and other sexual misconduct. It has ...read more

Shawnee chief Tecumseh is defeated

During the War of 1812, a combined British and Native American force is defeated by General William Harrison’s American army at the Battle of the Thames near Ontario, Canada. The leader of the Native forces was Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief who organized intertribal resistance to ...read more

Dalai Lama wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Dalai Lama, the exiled religious and political leader of Tibet, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end the Chinese domination of Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama was born as Tenzin Gyatso in Tsinghai Province, China, in 1935. He was of ...read more

Chief Joseph surrenders

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce peoples surrenders to U.S. General Nelson A. Miles in the Bear Paw mountains of Montana, declaring, “Hear me, my chiefs: My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” Earlier in the year, the U.S. government ...read more

American circumnavigates the globe on foot

American Dave Kunst completes the first round-the-world journey on foot, taking four years and 21 pairs of shoes to complete the 14,500-mile journey across the land masses of four continents. He left his hometown of Waseca, Minnesota, on June 20, 1970. Near the end of his journey ...read more

Harry Truman delivers first-ever presidential speech on TV

On October 5, 1947, President Harry Truman (1884-1972) makes the first-ever televised presidential address from the White House, asking Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans. At the time of Truman’s food-conservation speech, Europe was ...read more

The Dalton Gang is wiped out in Coffeyville, Kansas

On October 5, 1892, the famous Dalton Gang attempts the daring daylight robbery of two Coffeyville, Kansas, banks at the same time. But if the gang members believed the sheer audacity of their plan would bring them success, they were sadly mistaken. Instead, they were nearly ...read more

Isaac Singer wins Nobel Prize in Literature

On October 5, 1978, Isaac Bashevis Singer wins the Nobel Prize in Literature. Singer wrote in Yiddish about Jewish life in Poland and the United States, and translations of his work became popular in mainstream America as well as Jewish circles. Singer was born in Poland in 1904 ...read more

“Henry & June” is first NC-17 film shown in theaters

On October 5, 1990, Henry & June, starring Uma Thurman, Fred Ward and Maria de Medeiros and inspired by the novel of the same name by Anais Nin, opens in theaters as the first film with an NC-17 rating. Set in Paris, France, in the early 1930s, Henry & June tells the story of the ...read more

Blimp crashes in France

On October 5, 1930, a British dirigible crashes in Beauvais, France, killing everyone onboard. The airship, which was Great Britain’s biggest, had first been launched about a year earlier. In the 1920s, the major European nations competed with each other to build larger and ...read more

Iran-Contra scandal unravels

Eugene Hasenfus is captured by troops of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua after the plane in which he is flying is shot down; two others on the plane die in the crash. Under questioning, Hasenfus confessed that he was shipping military supplies into Nicaragua for use by the ...read more

Enzo Ferrari makes his debut as a race car driver

On October 5, 1919, a young Italian car mechanic and engineer named Enzo Ferrari takes part in his first car race, a hill climb in Parma, Italy. He finished fourth. Ferrari was a good driver, but not a great one: In all, he won just 13 of the 47 races he entered. Many people say ...read more

General Washington informs Congress of espionage

On October 5, 1775, General George Washington writes to the president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, to inform him that a letter from Dr. Benjamin Church, surgeon general of the Continental Army, to Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Gage, British commander in chief for ...read more