Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs returns following liver transplant

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Steve Jobs
September 9 marked the start of Steve Jobs' final run at Apple.
Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

September 9: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs returns to Apple following liver transplant September 9, 2009: Steve Jobs makes his public return to Apple after successful liver-transplant surgery.

Appearing onstage at Apple’s fall event, Jobs receives a standing ovation that lasts almost a minute. He then opens the keynote on an unusually personal note by discussing his health.

Steve Jobs opens up about his health

“I wouldn’t be here without such generosity,” Jobs told the audience, referring to the organ donor whose liver he received. “I hope all of us can be as generous and elect to become organ donors.”

Before revealing Apple’s new line of iPad nanos, Jobs said, “I’m vertical, I’m back at Apple, and I’m loving every day of it.”

Jobs’ last run at Apple

A decade later, we now know far more about Jobs’ return than we did in 2009. First and foremost, of course, we know that while Jobs’ liver operation succeeded, pancreatic cancer ultimately resulted in the Apple CEO’s death a little over two years later. Members of Jobs’ inner circle knew about the cancer at the time, but nobody discussed it.

Jobs’ 2009 return to Apple represented a last burst of energy, during which he introduced the iPad as the final new product in his astonishing lineup of hits, including the iMac, iPod, iTunes Music Store and iPhone.

We also know that this was the point at which Apple ramped up its interest in health tracking. Today, we’re watching that come to fruition with initiatives like HealthKit, ResearchKit and the various sensors on the Apple Watch.

Apple also now makes it insanely easy for iPhone users to register as organ donors, courtesy of its Health app.

Because of the way Jobs died, and because he stepped down as CEO due to physical frailty rather than any of the reasons execs usually end their tenures, Jobs never enjoyed the kind of send-off he deserved. (If, in fact, he would ever have accepted one to begin with.)

The September 9, 2009, keynote always stuck with me as a great example of Apple fans showing their appreciation for Jobs. And of Jobs embracing the Apple community in return.

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