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

in Disney, Entertainment, Merchandise, Pixar

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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.

6 Comments

  1. Monty

    Dear Ricky, The scene in Spaceship Earth portrays Steve “the Woz’ Wozniack (I can’t spell his last name) inventing the first personal computer. I thought it was Jobs at first too… But according to a Cast Member I asked after riding SSE for the first time after the new scenes were added, Jobs was supposed to be in the scene behind the Woz, facing the ride vehicles, talking on a phone essentially selling the idea of personal computers to investors (or some other unknown person on the other side) but it wasn’t added for some reason. I know this is pretty much hear-say.. but it’s still interesting.

    As a life long Apple user (My father actually still works for Apple, has since the late 80’s), I am deeply saddened by the untimely death of one the world’s great dreamers. Like Walt Disney himself, Jobs actively sought to improve peoples lives. Disney pushed the boundaries of entertainment through new and better technologies. Likewise Jobs pushed the boundaries of technology by integrating entertainment, and people personal lives into devices previously seen only as utilitarian tools. I will always remember the effects Steve Jobs has had on my life…. and I will celebrate his memory with every track on iTunes, and every viewing of Toy Story.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Many have said that it’s Jobs in Spaceship Earth, while others insist it’s Woz. But the official line is that it’s neither, just inspired by them and countless other enthusiasts working on electronics in their garages during that era. Either way, both of their influence in the world of computers is unarguable and the scene does represent the feeling of the time. And as people pass that scene in the coming days, weeks, and months, many are sure to think of Jobs’ legacy, as the scene now truly becomes a part of history, like the those before it.

  2. Chris

    My prayers are with his family and I hope that during their times of mourning, they might be able to celebrate his life and cherish all the things that he meant to them. He will be missed.

    This might be to early to tell but I couldn’t help to think who gets his shares in the company? I’m not familiar with the world of stocks so I am not sure what happens to someones shares when they pass. Is it distributed?does his family get it? Does the second to largest shareholder become the largest shareholder?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I wondered about the shares as well. I assume they are left to whomever Jobs left them to, likely his family. But there may be more to it than that, considering the large number of them and his role on the Disney board.

  3. Justin F

    ricky, when was this added to SSE? I rode it in 2008 and only noticed theytook out my favorite scene from the ride… The scene that depicts the future as itwas thought to be. They replaced that scene with the virtual keypad thing, right? Because now on your descent from the top of SSE, it is pitch black and there is no more light tunnel, or scenes of the future. Where is the jobs section ofthe ride? I’m right about the SSE descent right?

    (sorry, I haven’t been to epcot since 2008. I only really go to the magic kingdom now)

    1. Ricky Brigante

      It was updated in 2007, actually. The scene you’re describing was replaced by two new scenes, one set in a ’60s/’70s computer room and the other forming the above-mentioned garage. The former “communication tunnel” is now half of what it once was, with a far less impressive effect. It’s all before you reach the top.

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