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Apple's future rests on co-founder

Steve Jobs to spearhead former company

December 21, 1996
Web posted at: 10:30 a.m. EST

apple podium

SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- Steve Jobs, the computer whiz kid who co-founded Apple with a friend in his garage more than 20 years ago, has returned to jump-start the struggling company a decade after his bitter ouster.

Apple Computer Inc. announced late Friday it would acquire Jobs' NeXT Software Inc. for $400 million, ending a day filled with speculation about the possible merger.

At an evening news conference, CEO Gilbert Amelio said Jobs was the perfect choice to revitalize Apple and launch it into the future.

"I can say with great excitement that I really look forward to the kind of contributions he can make to our company," Amelio said. "He is not just a visionary by reputation. He's a visionary in fact."

As an upstart 21-year-old, Jobs created Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and spearheaded the personal computer revolution with the creation of the Macintosh.

But in 1985, he was forced out after a power struggle with then-CEO John Scully. Jobs had hired Scully, a former Pepsico Inc. executive, to organize the growing company in 1983. Wozniak also left in 1985.

Steve Jobs

Jobs then formed NeXT Software Inc., a high-end business software company known for its "object orientation" -- technology that helps developers write new software quickly and simply -- and its advanced Internet software.

Jobs, 41, welcomed the merger on Friday. icon (231K/19 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

"This just looked like a much better place for us to be with our technology," said Jobs, who will report directly to Amelio. "I'm just very excited about this."

Information defining Jobs' official title with Apple was unavailable. The Los Angeles Times, citing unidentified sources, had said he would be a part-time consultant and "technology guru."

'Next generation of technology'

Amelio called the merger a "friendly" acquisition that would propel Apple well into the 21st century. Specifically, he outlined several points where Apple stands to gain:

  • Strengthen's Apple's Internet capabilities
  • Boosts Apple's competitiveness by embracing outside technology and cross-platform industry standards.
  • Jump-starts Apple's software business
  • Moves Apple back toward being a cutting-edge company

"We can truly create that next generation of technology that will lead the industry and continue to help the industry go forward," Amelio said.

The announcement came after weeks of speculation about Apple's plans for updating Macintosh's software, widely considered one of the most critical decisions in the company's history. A news leak on Friday also had fueled talk of Jobs' return.

Apple hopes that with a more advanced operating system the aging Macintosh will become a significant player in the personal computer industry. In recent years, the Mac has lost significant market share to Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Industry insiders applauded Apple's bold move. "It's sweet irony and justice for Jobs," Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Research International Inc., said in Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle.

"When he left Apple, he felt he would create the next great Mac at NeXT," he said. "Now, in the 20th anniversary of (Apple), he's helping create the next generation of Mac machines. This has got more drama and history than anything in business."


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