This Week In History: Oct. 5-9

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Man tests out an Apple computer called the Lisa at the Apple Convention, in Boston, Spring 1983. A year later, Steve Jobs debuts the MacIntosh computer. Photo by Alan Light via Flickr.

This week in history, we remember the lives of two important historical figures who died this week many years ago. While one died penniless and the other as one of the wealthiest men in the world, both individuals managed to create a lasting impact on the world around them. 

On Oct. 5, 2011, nine years ago, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, died at the age of 56. 

Steve Jobs, quite possibly the most innovative businessman and designer of his generation, was born in 1955 to two unmarried graduate students. He was then adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, and lived in Los Altos, Calif. While he is considered one of the greatest minds of the 21st century, he never received a formal education, having dropped out of college after his first semester. 

In 1976, Jobs teamed up with future business partner Stephen Wozniak in his parents’ garage to design and build the world’s first personal computer. Four years later, Apple Computer went public and sales skyrocketed, making Jobs a multimillionaire at the age of 25. In 1985, a year after Jobs debuted the MacIntosh computer, he left the company following infighting amongst executives. 

While the late 1980s were characterized by a few of Jobs’ commercial flops, he did manage to acquire a small computer-graphics studio, which he renamed Pixar Animation Studios. Yes, my friends, this means that the man responsible for putting an iPhone in your hand also put Woody, Dory and Mr. Incredible onto the big screen. In 2006, the Walt Disney Company bought Pixar for a mere 7 billion dollars, making Jobs the largest shareholder in one of America’s largest corporations. 

Apple, having faced difficulties throughout the 1990s, asked Jobs back, naming him the official CEO of Apple Inc. in 1997. Jobs’ leadership ushered in a new era of innovation in Silicon Valley, with Apple’s release of the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. All of which have become staple products in households in America and around the world. 

Jobs’ untimely death following a long battle with pancreatic cancer came just six weeks after his resignation as head of Apple Inc. Though his time on this Earth was short, he will certainly be remembered by history as an American business magnate whose accomplishments rival those of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. 

On Oct. 9, 1974, 46 years ago, Oskar Schindler, whose famous list saved 1,200 Jews from the Holocaust, died at the age of 66. 

Schindler, a charismatic German businessman and member of the Nazi Party, moved to Krakow following the German invasion of Poland. He opened a factory called Deutsche Emaillewaren-Fabrik (German Enamelware Factory) which produced pots and pans for the German front lines, and employed Jews living in the Krakow ghetto.  

While he originally hired Jews simply because they could be paid lower than Germans or Poles, Schindler realized his factory provided protection from the oppressive antisemitic racial policies of the Third Reich. When the ghetto was liquidated and all Jews living in Krakow were dispersed to death camps throughout Poland, Schindler convinced the sadistic Nazi commander Amon Göth to keep his workers at the Plaszow labor camp to continue to work at his factory.  

A layout of photos in Schindler’s factory. In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” captured the story of the charismatic German businessman and member of the Nazi Party. Photo by Bruno via Flickr.

In 1944, with the Germans losing ground in the war, the Nazis sought to empty all remaining labor camps and send all Jews to the death camp at Auschwitz. With the help of his Jewish accountant Itzak Stern, Schindler compiled a list of approximately 1,200 people who would continue to work at his factory following the camp’s closure. Schindler spent his entire fortune bribing Nazi officials to secure these Jews and spare them from a horrific fate at Auschwitz. Once they arrived at his factory in Czechoslovakia, Schindler purposely produced defective equipment as a means to further sabotage the German military efforts. Schindler died at the age of 66 completely bankrupt, yet the individuals he saved, referred to as the Schindlerjuden, lived on with more than 8,500 descendants worldwide. 

In 1993, Schindler’s story was captured in Steven Spielberg’s historical epic, “Schindler’s List,” which is largely considered one of the greatest films of all time. 

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