Steve Jobs did not found Pixar. He bought it from Lucasfilm in 1986. By then, it had existed for seven years as a computer graphics group within the Lucas organization.
Jobs did not, at least initially, even envision Pixar as an entertainment company. When I first encountered it in the early ’90s, the then-erstwhile Apple CEO had Pixar churning out 3D animation software (I still have the box at home).
Pixar Typestry 1 and 2 were little-known but well-produced Windows applications that let enterprising users create 3D text on their home PCs. (By “3D,” I mean computer-generated objects that look like they have volume and dimension, not stereoscopic 3D) . The software was pretty easy to use, but rendering on a then state-of-the-art 486 DX/2 computer could take all night. The last time I met with a Pixar representative in, I think, 1994, she told me the software division was dying, but the company was cooking up something even more exciting: movies. I looked at her for a long while as my mind conjured images of two or three desktop computers churning away at thousands of rudimentary 3D frames. I lied and said it sounded exciting and then went on my way.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved 3D. In fact, the news that Pixar would exit the software business in favor of movies saddened me. I wanted to create my own 3D animations in my living room.
A year later Pixar and Disney released Toy Story. I was first in line to see it and fell in love.
What’s the point of my story? Pixar did all this under the guidance of Steve Jobs, who died this week at the age of 56. He owned the company and while Jobs may have envisioned Pixar software and even Pixar computer systems, he listened when John Lasseter pitched him on a feature-length, all CGI-movie.
Then Jobs did what the best managers often do: He got out of the way. As Lasseter explained in a Facebook tribute, Jobs “saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us,” and had only one request of the animated films: “make it great.”
Some believe, as I do, that without Steve Jobs, Pixar would not have survived long enough to make Toy Story or any of the films that followed. He reportedly paid just $10 million for the business; a strong indication that no one else wanted Pixar. And when others urged Pixar to pick up the pace and churn out more CGI films per year, Jobs let Lasseter and Co. maintain a relative snail’s pace — at least for a film company, ensuring a slow-but-steady stream of high-quality and award-winning movies.
What follows is a look at Pixar’s best work and some whimsical captions about what would have happened if Steve Jobs had not supported Pixar in those early days. Jobs eventually sold Pixar to Disney in 2006, well after it had produced many of its memorable films.
Steve Jobs actually had a significant impact on many parts of our daily lives, so you might want to add your own “Without Steve Jobs … ” ideas in the comments below.
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Original Article By: Lance Ulanoff