But what many easily forget is the rocky road Jobs took to get Apple to the top. Although Jobs had unique vision and the ability to inspire, he could also be overbearing, impatient, and downright rude. By 1985, things had gotten so bad between Jobs and Apple's board of directors that the group had stripped him of power.
Jobs felt betrayed, in disbelief that the company he helped build was being taken away from him. He left Apple that summer to form NeXT, a new startup focused on building higher-level computer hardware (and eventually software) for the education industry. Despite Jobs's reputation for being stubborn and demanding, several Apple employees followed their boss to his new venture.
What happened next was extraordinary.
After just three months, Jobs orchestrated a company retreat for his 11 employees, where they discussed in detail their strategy for the next 18 months.
The following video shows excerpts of the retreat, and it's captivating:
Here we find a young Jobs, impassioned and focused. His enthusiasm is contagious, the oratory skills he'd use in his famous keynotes years later on full display. As his team shares their ideas and challenges, he listens patiently. At the same time, he repeatedly steps in to help keep everyone focused and on track.
"There needs to be someone who is the keeper and reiterator of the vision," Jobs explains to an interviewer. "A lot of times, when you have to walk a thousand miles and you take the first step, it looks like a long way, and it really helps if there's someone there saying, 'Well, we're one step closer. The goal definitely exists; it's not just a mirage out there.'"
The video also shows a second retreat, held three months later. At this point, it's clear that pressure and deadlines are getting to Jobs, as his previous unbridled enthusiasm has been replaced with disappointment and frustration. He laments his fellow team members' lack of desire to step up and solve the company's pressing problems, and admits that the team, himself included, seems to have lost the "startup hustle."
Nonetheless, Jobs concludes with optimism. He went on to explain what drove him, at age 31, to start a new company from scratch--by relating a story of the time he visited an elementary school and spent time with the students:
"They had a whole classroom full of Apple [computers], and I spent a few hours there and I saw these third- and fourth-graders growing up completely different than I grew up--because of this machine," Jobs said. "That's an incredible feeling. To know that you had something to do with it, A); and B), to know that it can be done."
"To know that you can plant something in the world and it'll grow, and change the world ever so slightly."
What happened to NeXT.
Of course, there's a pretty good chance you've never heard of NeXT computers. The company only shipped about 50,000 units and eventually exited the hardware business.
But if you're reading this article on a computer or mobile device, you're benefiting from the fruits of NeXT. Tim Berners-Lee, known as one of the founding fathers of the internet, used the NeXT computer and operating system to create the World Wide Web.
Then, in 1997, Apple purchased NeXT and its operating system. It went on to use NeXT software as the foundation for what is known today as Apple iOS, Mac OS, watchOS, and tvOS.
Oh yeah, one more thing that Apple got from purchasing NeXT: a new employee who happened to know a little about Apple's history.
That employee eventually returned to his post as chief executive of Apple. Over the next few years, Jobs would proceed to lead one of the most remarkable business turnarounds in history.
Along the way, Jobs and Apple certainly managed to change the world--ever so slightly.