Dec. 14, 2011— -- The choice of Steve Jobs as Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of the Year was an unusual one; the program has never featured a person who is not alive.
In fact, the Apple founder was selected much earlier in the year, when he first retired. After Jobs died, the rule was broken for him. After all, he broke so many rules during his extraordinary life.
A businessman and a visionary, a marketing genius and a romantic, a billionaire and a Zen Buddhist, Jobs was one of a kind. His energy and vision changed the world and made him the choice for Most Fascinating Person of the Year.
PHOTOS: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011.
Steve Jobs died in October at just 56, after an eight-year battle with cancer. His death was mourned by millions around the world.
"He wanted things insanely great and would take or accept nothing less than that," said Disney president and CEO Bob Iger, Jobs' colleague and close friend.
A college dropout, Jobs co-founded Apple Computer with his friend Steve Wozniak in his parents' basement in 1976. Almost a decade later, he was ousted from the company and embarked on a new path: He purchased and grew Pixar Animation Studios, married, and had three children.
Jobs' triumphant return to Apple in 1996 launched a period of tremendous success for the company, which revolutionized digital music with the iPod and later transformed the cell phone with the iPhone.
Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs was the top selling book of 2011, and you could read it on another one of Jobs' creations, the iPad.
"His enthusiasm was unbelievably evident, visceral," Iger said. "You could see it from his toes to his head, he was so enthusiastic. He also was inspirational in that he demanded excellence from his people. He demanded that they think big. Big ideas really got Steve moving."
Jobs often said he had "the best job in the world." Driven and idealistic, he expected greatness from himself and those around him.
"The greatest people are self managing; they don't need to be managed; once they know what to do, they'll figure out how to do it," he once said. "What they need is a common vision."
"There were really only two things in Steve's life. There was Apple and there was his family, and he zealously protected both of those," Iger said. "He avoided making commitments to anything else because he knew that the commitment to something else would detract from his time at Apple or his time at home. And he simply was not going to do that. He cared so much about his family. And he cared so much about his company."
Always forward looking, Jobs fought cancer for eight years. Up until nearly the end, he was dreaming big, planning a new Apple headquarters.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life," he told the graduates as the commencement speaker at Stanford University in 2005. "Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
His last words, his sister said, were "Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow."
Apple's 1997 Think Different campaign was launched not long after Jobs' return to the company he created. It began with these words, emblematic of Jobs' own fascinating life:
"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do."