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10 products that define Jobs’s career

Associated Press / August 25, 2011

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Steve Jobs had no formal schooling in engineering, yet he is listed as the inventor or coinventor on more than 200 US patents. These are some of the significant products that were created under his direction:

■ Apple I (1976) - Apple’s first product was a computer for hobbyists and engineers, made in small numbers. Steve Wozniak designed it, while Jobs orchestrated the funding and handled the marketing.

■ Apple II (1977) - One of the first successful personal computers, the Apple II was designed as a mass-market product rather than something for engineers or enthusiasts. It was still largely Wozniak’s design. Several upgrades for the model followed, and the product line continued until 1993.

■ Lisa (1983) - Jobs’s visit to Xerox Corp.’s research center in Palo Alto, Calif., inspired him to start work on the first commercial computer with a graphical user interface, with icons, windows, and a cursor controlled by a mouse. It was the foundation for today’s computer interfaces, but the Lisa was too expensive to be a commercial success.

■ Macintosh (1984) - Like the Lisa, the Macintosh had a graphical user interface. It was also cheaper and faster and had the backing of a large advertising campaign behind it. People soon realized how useful the graphical interface was for design. That led to “desktop publishing,’’ accomplished with a Mac coupled with a laser printer, to soon become a sales driver.

■ NeXT computer (1988) - After being forced out of Apple, Jobs started a company that built a powerful workstation computer. The company was never able to sell large numbers, but the computer was influential: The world’s first Web browser was created on one. Its software also lives on as the basis for today’s Macintosh and iPhone operating system.

■iMac (1998) - When Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, the company was foundering, with an ever-shrinking share of the PC market. The radical iMac was the first step in reversing the slide. It was designed as a bubble of blue plastic that enclosed both monitor and computer.

■ iPod (2001) - It wasn’t the first digital music player with a hard drive, but it was the first successful one. Apple’s expansion into portable electronics has had vast ramifications. The iPod’s success prepared the way for the iTunes music store and the iPhone.

■ iTunes store (2003) - Before the iTunes store, buying digital music was a hassle, making piracy the more popular option. The store simplified the process and brought together tracks from all the major labels. The store became the largest music retailer in the United States in 2008.

■ iPhone (2007) - The iPhone did for the phone experience what the Macintosh did for personal computing - it made the power of a smartphone easy to harness. Apple is now the world’s most profitable maker of phones, and the influence of the iPhone is evident in all smartphones.

■ iPad (2010) - Dozens of companies, including Apple, had created tablet computers before the iPad, but none caught on. The iPad cracked the code, creating a new category of computer practically by itself.