There would be no Buzz Lightyear without Woody, no WALL-E without EVE, no Mike without Sully — just as there would be no Pixar without Steve Jobs, who died at age 56 on Wednesday (October 5).
The visionary Apple co-founder, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004, will likely be best remembered for his inventive imagination that was the lifeblood of a technological revolution. But moviemakers, actors, critics, cinephiles and more across the globe will also remember Jobs for giving life to some of the most moving and breathtaking feats of filmmaking the industry has ever seen: the award-winning and unforgettable works of Pixar.
Originally founded in 1979 as a Lucasfilm computer arm called Graphic Group, the company was eventually acquired and renamed Pixar in 1986 by Jobs, freshly and famously ousted by Apple. Jobs, serving as the animation studio's chairman and chief executive officer, led Pixar to Disney, a collaboration that has gifted generations with countless unforgettable works, ranging from 1995's groundbreaking "Toy Story" all the way to 2011's admittedly unbalanced "Cars 2."
Throughout its 25-year history, Pixar has filled our bellies with tales of comfort food, knocked our blocks off with incredible superheroics and broken our hearts with old people. The studio has been responsible for no less than 26 Academy Awards, including Best Animated Film wins for "Finding Nemo," "WALL-E," "Up" and "Toy Story 3," with the latter two also nominated in the all-encompassing Best Picture category. Indeed, whether you've been aware of it or not, Jobs has been responsible for some of the most powerful storytelling of ours or any generation.
"Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined," Pixar's John Lasseter and Ed Catmull said in a joint statement about Jobs' passing. "Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply 'make it great.' He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people.
"He will forever be a part of Pixar's DNA," their statement continued. "Our hearts go out to his wife Laurene and their children during this incredibly difficult time."
It's not just in the heart and soul of Pixar where Jobs' contribution to film resides; from now on, whether you're catching up for Oscar season between work shifts on your iPad or watching the newest film releases from the comfort of your own home with nothing but a wireless connection and a functional iTunes account, the world will engage movies and media in ways that are only possible because of his work.
Comedian and "Ratatouille" voice actor Patton Oswalt perfectly encapsulated the late inventor's legacy on Twitter. In an appropriately geek-friendly manner of speaking, Jobs truly was the "closest thing we had to Tony Stark."