Apple Computers was founded by the “Steves”—Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak—in a garage in Cupertino, California in 1976. Back in those days Apple wasn’t selling beautiful iPhones, iPads, or iPods, they were peddling the Apple I, a personal computer kit each hand-built by Steve Wozniak. The Apple I went on sale in 1976 for $666.66 (certainly some sort of in-joke between Jobs and Wozniak).

Fast forward to 2011…

Nearly everyone has one of Apple’s ubiquitous MP3 players, the iPod, and the must have cell phone is now the iPhone. The device has become so popular that a non-cellular version of it, dubbed the iPod touch, has become the best-selling iPod, and the operating system created for the iPhone has begun to influence the way all operating systems are designed. Apple has gone from a simple computer company to completely revolutionizing the way we consume music, television, and movies. They can say with little disagreement that they have changed our lives. What a difference 35 years makes. Apple is now the largest mobile electronics company in the world, and posted its largest quarter ever with a profit of $1.21 billion dollars.

And the public face of Apple remains Steve Jobs. Dynamic, passionate, visceral, and calculating, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to say where Apple begins and where Jobs ends. The two are so much a part of each other that it’s hard to fathom anyone else ever wearing the black turtleneck and jeans and saying, “wait, there’s one more thing.”

Today Steve Jobs released a memo to his employees at Apple that informed them that he was taking a medical leave of absence.


At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple's day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.


Jobs took six months off in 2009 because of a liver transplant, and it’s unclear if this leave has anything to do with his battles with pancreatic cancer, but the news of his leave has already splashed fear in the hearts of the Apple Faithful. We’ve noticed during the past few Apple Keynote Speeches that Jobs is looking thinner, frailer, and a little tired. But the interesting thing about this memo is not Steve’s medical leave, but rather the wording at the end. He doesn't close his letter saying "Thank you for your support" or some other generic phrase, he says “I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can.” It’s a bold statement and one that we could only expect from Steve Jobs.

This leaves many speculating on if Apple would survive the loss of Steve Jobs. Gizmodo sums it up the best:

This is not a matter of fanboyism. This is not a matter of making a god out of the man. No. It's just that nobody would be able to dedicate himself in flesh and soul to Apple in the same way that Steve Jobs does. Because he is in love with the company. The company is his kid. The company is himself at a very deep level. Not only because of his role in the decision making process—which is huge—but because it actually embodies his life. His birth, exile, and return. His ideas and his dreams. His glories and miseries, absolute successes and total failures. No matter how they try to stage it and pretend that everything would be fine, it will not be fine.

Apple will not be fine if he doesn't return. It will be OK for a few years, sure. The managers are good. The engineers are great. And I'm sure a new CEO would be very good too. But, if he doesn't return, they are bound to become a Sony in the long term.

Because he is the force that makes the whole thing tick. Out of pure love for the company he made.

I love Apple too Steve. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us.

All of us wish Steve Jobs a speedy and complete recovery.