Fifteen years ago, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, took back the reins of the company as its chief executive officer.
The company was, shall we say, in not too good a shape. In fact, at a meeting of technology managers that year, competitor Michael Dell of Dell Computers was asked what he would do if he were CEO of Apple.
"What would I do?" Mr. Dell said to an audience of several thousand. "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."
Well, Mr. Jobs didn't do that and now Apple is the largest company in the world, judged by market capitalization. Today, we live in a society of iPhones, iPads, iMacs, iTunes and iPods.
As of Thursday, Apple's Market Capitalization was $622.44 billion - Dell's was $18.68 billion. In other words, Apple is worth 33.3 Dells. And the gap has widened in the last year. Last September when we first visited the subject, Apple's market cap was $346.74 billion - Dell's was $27 billion.
Even though Dell still sells a lot of personal computers and peripherals, one could suggest that its product line should be dubbed "iDle."
Mr. Jobs injected 1997 Apple with a new spirit of adventure. He challenged his employees to think innovatively - develop new products people didn't even know they wanted. In the process, they transformed mobile phones, the music industry and, with their iPad tablet, computing and publishing.
Mr. Jobs died last fall after a long fight with cancer. One would hope the spirit of invention he engendered in Apple will live on.
But, even if it doesn't, it is safe to say that Mr. Jobs' reconnection with Apple in 1997 will go down as one of the biggest success stories in American corporate history. Somewhere, Steve Jobs is laughing last, and best.
(Portions of this editorial have appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.