Apple's CEO Steve Jobs Has Cancer Surgery

In an E-mail message to employees, he said he had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas but expects a full recovery.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 2, 2004

4 Min Read

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- As Steve Jobs began his recovery from cancer surgery, the charismatic chief executive of Apple Computer Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios took care to reassure employees, friends, and investors that he expects a full recovery.

Jobs sent an E-mail message Sunday announcing that his form of pancreatic cancer--an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor--is extremely rare and easily cured if diagnosed early.

This kind of cancer "represents about 1 percent of the total cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed each year, and can be cured by surgical removal if diagnosed in time (mine was)," he wrote.

And, never one to miss an opportunity to pitch Apple products, he added a post-script about the company's big-screen laptop and new wireless networking device: "P.S.: I'm sending this from my hospital bed using my 17-inch PowerBook and an Airport Express."

Jobs said he would require no chemotherapy or radiation treatment, but will be off to recuperate during August and expects to return to work in September.

Meanwhile, Apple will be led by Timothy Cook, the company's executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations. Cook said the current management team has worked with Jobs for many years, and that experience will guide them through the next month.

Jobs, in his message, also was upbeat about the management team.

"While I'm out, I've asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day to day operations, so we shouldn't miss a beat. I'm sure I'll be calling some of you way too much in August, and I look forward to seeing you in September," he wrote.

Pixar will be led by president Ed Catmull will take day-to-day control until Jobs returns.

Apple's board is confident Cook can manage the company in Jobs' absence, said Bill Campbell, an Apple director, who expressed relief that the surgery went well.

"The surgery was hugely successful, and the prognosis is excellent," Campbell said. "We feel very relieved and optimistic about the future."

Jobs noted in his E-mail that a far more deadly--and common form--of pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma.

"I mention this because when one hears 'pancreatic cancer' (or Googles it), one immediately encounters this far more common and deadly form, which, thank God, is not what I had," he said in the message.

Surgery does cure the kind of tumor that Jobs had, and radiation treatments are rarely necessary as a follow-up, according to Dr. Jeffrey Norton, a specialist in gastrointestinal oncology and pancreas surgery at Stanford University Medical Center. "If you remove all of the tumor, there is a high probability the patient is cured," Norton told the San Jose Mercury News.

Jobs, 49, and friend Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer in 1976, five years before IBM Corp. jumped into the personal computer market.

In 1984, the company released the Macintosh, which was the first commercially successful computer to have a graphical user interface that mimicked a physical desktop. It was eventually copied by IBM-clone computers, which became far more dominant.

A year later, Jobs left Apple following a struggle with the company's board. He cashed in some Apple stock and formed another computer company, NeXT.

But NeXT took too long to release its "mainframe on a desk," and once it was available in 1989, it was criticized for its $4,000 price. Within four years, NeXT abandoned the hardware market and announced it was focusing on operating system software.

By then, Apple was struggling and efforts to upgrade its operating system were going nowhere. In 1996, Apple bought NeXT. In 1997, Jobs was brought back as an interim chief executive. In 2000, "interim" was dropped from the title.

He made a splash in 1998 with the release of a revamped and stylish iMac, which was followed by new lines of laptops as well as professional-grade computers and servers. In 2001, Apple jumped into the digital music player business with its iPod, which is now the most popular.

And last year, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store, which allowed legal music downloads after Jobs persuaded music companies that his technology was secure.

It also helped that Jobs also owned an entertainment company. Jobs paid $10 million to buy a special effects computer business from filmmaker George Lucas. The company, which eventually became Pixar, has become hugely successful after releasing "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo." and "Monsters, Inc."

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