The Staggering Achievement of Steve Jobs

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The Fool has been paying tribute to Steve Jobs since his passing on Wednesday. As one of the greatest CEOs of his generation, if not the greatest, Jobs has left behind plenty of lessons we can learn from. However, sometimes the best way to quickly grasp the success of great leaders is to chart their accomplishments along with the wealth they created for shareholders who bought into their vision.

In Jobs' case, you'll find a nearly unbroken streak of hit products that redefined entire categories since his second act as Apple's (NAS: AAPL) CEO began in 1997. Even products that were initially met with skepticism or regarded as outright failures, like the MacBook Air and Apple TV, are now seeing success.

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The performance becomes even more dramatic when you consider that most of Apple's largest rivals when Jobs came back in 1997 -- the likes of Hewlett-Packard (NAS: HPQ) , Dell (NAS: DELL) , and Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) -- have seen their share prices stagnate or fall over the past decade. In HP and Dell's case, both are taking actions to move out of the consumer space while Apple continues racking up market share across its main product lines.

After being widely hailed as the CEO of the previous decade, Jobs continued forward this decade achieving some of his greatest success stories. The iPad was introduced in 2010 and has become a runaway hit. The iPhone 4 is the most popular smartphone without peer. Now Apple is releasing the iPhone 4S -- and even though critics might grouse that it has few design changes, AT&T (NYS: T) is still setting pre-order sales records. To consider the success of Apple under Jobs is simply staggering. 

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At the time this article was published Neither Eric Bleeker nor Dari FitzGerald owns shares of any companies listed above. You can follow Eric on Twitter to see all of his technology and market commentary. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Dell, Microsoft, AT&T, and Apple, as well as creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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