Steve Jobs’ 7-Year Health Battle: Defying Big Odds, Launching Big Products

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MacBook Air: January 15, 2008

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The razor-thin MacBook Air was quite a design feat when it launched, measuring 0.16 inches thick at its thinnest point and barely over three-quarters of an inch at its thickest.

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The high price tag coupled with the MacBook Airs’ relatively underpowered innards didn’t exactly make the first version a breakout hit, but the next version brought a second 11.6-inch form factor, a sub-$1,000 starting price, and a bit more horsepower. This year’s line brought even better processors and nimbler flash memory while keeping the starting price low.

Although the MacBook Air came out in early January of 2008, competing super-slim form factors from PC makers (called ultrabooks) are only just now starting to make their way to the market en masse.

iPad: January 27, 2010

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In what may ultimately go down as one of Steve Jobs’ most important achievements, the iPad did what no tablet before it could: appeal to the masses. Apple had reportedly been working on the concept prior to even the iPhone before deciding to go handheld first, tablet second.

Several early reviews of the tablet criticized its inability to provide more value than a similarly-priced notebook, yet the general public didn’t seem to care. By the time the dust cleared, Apple had sold 300,000 iPads on the first day alone; a month later: a million iPads; less than a month after that: two million; less than a month after that: three million.

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By June 21st, 80 days after the iPad became available, Apple had sold three million of them. It’d be months until another major tablet even hit the market—the expensive, underwhelming 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab—and almost a year before another big-name 10-inch tablet—the also-expensive, also-underwhelming Motorola Xoom—showed up. And less than a week after the Xoom became available, Apple announced the iPad 2.

Earlier this year, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak remarked that Jobs had the tablet computing concept set in his sights from the company’s earliest years, saying of the iPad, “I think Steve Jobs had that intention from the day we started Apple, but it was just hard to get there.” Apple started in April of 1976; the iPad was announced almost 34 years later.

Defying big odds, launching big products

If Steve Jobs did indeed stave off a disease for more than seven years that normally takes people in five months, that’s an impressive enough feat in and of itself. But then to also look back at just some of the Apple products that were announced in the past seven years while Jobs had been battling pancreatic cancer seems truly—as Apple might put it—magical.

He surrounded himself with some of the best and the brightest in the consumer electronics industry, so it’s not to say that some or all of these products wouldn’t have launched had Jobs not made it as long as he did. But you have to wonder what Apple would have looked like on October 5th, 2011 had Steve Jobs not been able to put up such an incredible fight.

MORE: Check Out TIME Magazine’s Steve Jobs Coverage

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