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Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and Pixar, and Disney’s largest shareholder, dies at 56

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and Pixar, and Disney’s largest shareholder, dies at 56

Technology revolutionary Steve Jobs has passed away at the age of 56 after a battle with cancer. While best known for co-founding Apple, the company which brought the world the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and even the personal computer, Jobs also had great influence in the world which we cover daily.

In 1986, Jobs acquired what would become Pixar Animation Studios, investing not only his money but also his confidence in a small group of computer animators who ultimately would produce some of the world’s most beloved and successful films. Twenty years later, after a longstanding partnership, The Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar, making Jobs Disney’s largest single shareholder and placing him on the board of directors. On Disney’s board, Jobs also helped to oversee Disney’s animation businesses.

Jobs is pictured here in an AP photo taken at the time of the Pixar acquisition alongside Pixar’s president Ed Catmull, Disney CEO and president Bob Iger, and John Lasster, who was part of Pixar when Jobs put his faith into the small group, and whom along with Jobs has often been compared to Walt Disney for innovative “out of the box” thinking that would influence not only the world of entertainment, but society as a whole.

On Jobs’ passing, Bob Iger said in a statement, “Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted advisor. His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built. It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined. Steve was such an “original,” with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era. Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started. With his passing the world has lost a rare original, Disney has lost a member of our family, and I have lost a great friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Laurene and his children during this difficult time.”

John Lasster and Ed Catmull together also issued a statement: “Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply ‘make it great.’ He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people. He will forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA. Our hearts go out to his wife Laurene and their children during this incredibly difficult time.”

Marking a time and place in history, in a recent update to Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth ride, Disney even added a garage scene in which a bearded, long-haired young man is slumped over an early prototype of the world’s first personal computer. While not specifically named as Jobs, it’s clear that this scene represents an important moment in technological history that Jobs was a major part of.

Steve Jobs not only offered financial and business support to Disney and Pixar but also creative leadership, direction, and inspiration, much as had did for Apple for many years. And though he will no longer personally be around to oversee it all, his influence and inspiration will still be felt by many. An outpouring of support on social networks shows that many felt strongly for and were affected by the man, even without knowing him personally. And in the world of theme parks, Jobs’ influence will continue.

Walt Disney Imagineer Jason Grandt wrote on his personal Twitter account about Jobs’ influence on the Spaceship Earth scene, “He inspired those who worked on the attraction.” Grandt continued, “Something fun will be coming to the Magic Kingdom and we stole a move from Steve’s playbook to make it happen… Thank you Steve.”

Thank you Steve, indeed.


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