When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976, they set to work building a line of computers—culminating in the Macintosh—that would be the most intuitive machines of their kind. In a way, they introduced the middling people to the magic of digital processors the way Henry Ford introduced them to cars. The brash young Jobs left Apple in 1985, after a spat with the board over the company’s direction. By his own later admission, he needed a strong dose of perspective.
Jobs did other things for 12 years, until returning to Apple as CEO in 1997. The company was floundering, after a string of misfires. Jobs straightened things out, then brought Apple to new heights with wonders like the iPod, iPhone and iPad, along with services like iTunes and Apple TV meant to complement the elegant devices. By the time Jobs retired as CEO earlier this year, Apple was more valuable than virtually any other technology company in the world, including Google, IBM and Microsoft.