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Style and simplicity the hallmarks of the Steve Jobs era at Apple

26 Aug 2011

Steve Jobs (Photo - Acaben)

Steve Jobs has formally stepped down as chief executive of Apple after nearly 14 years. The departure brings an end to one of the most dramatic turnarounds and successful runs of any company in history.

Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy when Jobs took over, but is now one of the richest companies on the planet and a dominant force in the mobile device and online music markets.

Apple was known as an industry trendsetter during most of Jobs's tenure, producing the cutting-edge designs and visionary products for which the company is rightfully famous.

Behind those products was Jobs, personally overseeing many of the most important projects. Perhaps more so than any other chief executive in the industry, his fingerprints can be found on everything Apple has released.

The triumph of Apple was also the triumph of Jobs's vision and philosophy. It was an approach which mixed an elegant, simple design with an engineering focus that valued the overall user experience over benchmarks and spec sheets.

Jobs has credited much of his approach to hardware and software to a university calligraphy course he took at Reed College. Speaking at a 2005 graduation ceremony at Stanford University, Jobs explained how the class affected his perspectives on design.

"I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great," he said.

"It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating."

The phrase "artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture" also provides a perfect summary of Apple's approach to building devices in the 21st century. When Jobs took over the company in 1997, Apple was in a numbers game it could not win. It was trying in vain to show that its benchmarks and feature sets were better than those of the dominant Windows PC.

Rather than continue to pitch the Macintosh as just another beige box with a spec sheet, Jobs chose to make the Mac the antithesis of the personal computer at the time. The result was the iMac, a system that looked and felt nothing like the conventional PC.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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