July 8, 1997: Steve Jobs begins his path to becoming chief executive officer of Apple, after former CEO Gil Amelio departs the company on the back of a massive quarterly loss. Also leaving Apple is Ellen Hancock, executive vice president of technology.
To run Apple’s day-to-day operations, CFO Fred Anderson takes over until a new CEO can be found. Jobs, meanwhile, moves from strategic adviser to take “a more expanded role with Apple’s board and executive management team.” The turnaround has started!
Amelio and Hancock had only been in their positions at Apple since 1996, both joining from National Semiconductor. However, they were unable to turn Apple around quickly enough to satisfy Cupertino’s board of directors.
The month before the departures, the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to say it would take Apple longer than expected to return to profitability. Apple also noted that it needed to cut 3,500 full-time jobs.
The re-emergence of Steve Jobs
At the time, Jobs’ shift within the company was not widely commented upon. He had rejoined Apple late the previous year, following Apple’s acquisition of NeXT. Jobs and, for a brief time, Steve Wozniak, gave Apple fans a morale boost when the founders returned to the company.
Jobs wasn’t immediately open about wanting to take over as CEO. Nonetheless, with the power vacuum that Amelio left behind, Jobs started reshaping Apple into a winning company.
At the time, he said he was just doing this until a more suitable replacement could be found. However, it didn’t take Jobs long to cement himself in this role.
Just a few months later, on September 16, 1997, Apple named Jobs interim CEO. This title quickly became shortened to iCEO, which makes Jobs’ role the first “i” release, predating even the iMac G3. Early the next year, Apple became profitable again.
Were you an Apple fan at the time? If so, what was your reaction to the return of Jobs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.