On August 24th, 2011, Tim Cook took the job as CEO of Apple, leaving many wondering if he could fill the massive void left by his friend and mentor, Steve Jobs.
But when he was first announced for the role, he was a big question mark. He’s a quiet guy who had long stayed in the background at Apple, while Jobs did the big product releases and the press tours.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Apple would never have gotten where it is without Cook’s help early on in Jobs’ reign — if not for Cook’s expertise and willingness to do what needed to be done, Apple would have been sunk.
Here’s how Tim Cook rose through the ranks, became a major leader in the reinvention of Apple, and ended up at the helm of the most-watched company in the world.
Timothy Donald Cook was born in Mobile, Alabama, on November 1, 1960. He grew up in nearby Robertsdale, where he went to high school.
In 1982, right out of Auburn, Cook joined IBM in its still new PC division -- before Microsoft Windows was even a thing. He'd rise to become the director of North American fulfillment.
In 1996, Cook was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis, something he says made him view the world in a different way. Since then, he's been a big contributor to charity, and even does bike races for good causes.
It turns out the diagnosis was just because he'd been lugging around too much baggage -- literally.
So Jobs approached Cook, identifying him as a strong prospect for his new Apple. Cook signed on to Apple in an initial role as the SVP of worldwide operations.
Cook would later describe their meeting:
Any purely rational consideration of cost and benefits lined up in Compaq's favour, and the people who knew me best advised me to stay at Compaq ... On that day in early 1998 I listened to my intuition, not the left side of my brain or for that matter even the people who knew me best ... no more than five minutes into my initial interview with Steve, I wanted to throw caution and logic to the wind and join Apple. My intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius, and to be on the executive team that could resurrect a great American company.