The Apple Executive Who Brought Steve Jobs Back
Ellen Hancock (1943 – 2022) made a crucial decision that would change the course of Apple’s history. In the mid-90s, after years of turmoil and uncertainty, Apple was struggling to find a new operating system for its Mac computers. It was Hancock’s insistence on seeking an external solution that eventually led to the acquisition of NeXT, a company founded by none other than Steve Jobs.
The years following Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple in 1985 were difficult for the visionary co-founder. But it was during this time at NeXT that Jobs underwent a transformation that would later define him as a genius and visionary in the technology industry. His eventual return to Apple, and subsequent rise to becoming CEO, was made possible by the actions of Ellen Hancock.
After Apple dismissed Jobs, the company went through a period of instability, with various leadership changes and uncertain direction. It was in this context that Hancock, who had been appointed as the company’s Chief Technology Officer by then-CEO Gil Amelio, made the decision to look for a new operating system for Apple’s Mac products.
Hancock’s search ultimately led to the cancellation of Apple’s internal project and the discovery of NeXT’s operating system, NeXTStep, which was ultimately chosen as the foundation for Mac OS. In 1997, Apple acquired NeXT, and with it, Steve Jobs returned to the company he co-founded. Just a few months later, Jobs regained power as Apple’s CEO, marking the start of the company’s resurgence.
Ellen Hancock lived a life dedicated to the technology industry, having played key roles in companies such as IBM, National Semiconductor, and Apple. Her pivotal role in bringing back Steve Jobs and reshaping Apple’s future cemented her legacy as a heroine in the company’s history.
Ellen Hancock passed away at the age of 79 in 2022, leaving behind a lasting impact on the technology industry and the legacy of Apple’s resurgence under the leadership of Steve Jobs.