Apple founder Steve Jobs dies at 56 after gruelling 7 year battle with cancer
Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and the man who transformed consumer technology, has died at the age of 56.
"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius and the world has lost an amazing human being,” Apple said. “Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives.”
Jobs, who has fought cancer in recent years and received a liver transplant in 2009, stepped down as Apple's chief executive in August. But his death is still likely to come as a shock to many in Silicon Valley and across the world.
Born on February 24, 1955 and raised in Palo Alto, California, Jobs was one of a handful of figures who straddled two generations that helped transform the small corner of California into the world's hub for technogical innovation.
Having founded Apple in his family's garage in 1976 with his friend Steve Wozniak, more than 30 years of innovation resulted in Apple surpassing oil giant Exxon Mobil as the world's most valuable company earlier this year. In the process Jobs helped reinvent the personal computer, music and mobile phone industries as well as reshape the attitude of millions to technology.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, said that "the world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come."
Whether it was with the Apple II computer that he and Wozniak launched in 1977 or the latest version of the iPad that arrived last year, Jobs bought an eye for detail and a pursuit of perfection to the product. He once summed up his approach to consumer technology as one of trying to make products that "were at the intersection of art and technology."
It saw him chasing colleagues at the weekend with “urgent” requests to change the shade of yellow in the second O in Google when it appeared on the iPhone screen.
The Apple II scored Jobs his first major success, becoming one of the world's first popular and commercially viable personal computers. Though it was heavily outsold by more standard PCs, it created a almost fanatical loyalty among users that was going to become central to Apple's later success.
And in 1980 Apple's flotation turned Jobs into a multi-millionaire before the age of 30. But his relationship with the company he co-founded proved far from smooth. In an echo of what's happened to many start-up technology companies since, Jobs decided to hire a heavyweight from corporate America to help manage Apple's growth. John Sculley was recruited from Pepisco in 1983, but a slump then ensued that eventually saw Mr Jobs fired by Apple's board two years later.
It was not until 1997 that Jobs returned to Apple, which was then losing money. His return quickly saw a directionless company focus on producing a handful of key products that began in May 1998 with the iMac. The launch of the device also underlined Jobs's talent for marketing that was to become an important ingredient of the company's success over the next decade. The iMac's launch was accompanied by an advertising campaign that for the first time used the phrase 'Think Different.' Three years later the iPod was launched, the iPhone arrived in 2007 and, then last year, came the iPad.
Jobs told a PBS documentary that he took inspiration for his designs where it was available. ""Picasso has a saying, 'Good artists copy. Great artists steal,'" Mr Jobs said. "I've been shameless about stealing great ideas."
Away from Apple, Jobs was a private man and leaves behind his wife and four children. His family said that he had died "peacefully surrounded by his family." Their statement added that "in his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family."
US President Barack Obama also paid tribute to Mr Jobs, saying "the world has lost a visionary".
In a statement he said: "Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.
"He transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.
"The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."
Alan Sugar remembered his Amstrad computer company competing with Mr Jobs in the 1980s.
He wrote on Twitter: "Gutted: Steve Jobs died.
"We started our computer biz at same time and were competitors thru 80's. Great visionary. Sadly missed RIP."
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: "Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."
Apple said it was "deeply saddened" by the news.
A company spokesman said: "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.
"His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts."
A statement released by Mr Jobs' family said: "Steve died peacefully surrounded by his family.
"In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family.
"We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve's illness.
"We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief."
The father-of-four started Apple Computer with school friend Steve Wozniak in his garage in 1976 but was forced out a decade later.
He returned in the mid-1990s and transformed Apple into one of the world's most powerful companies.
Just two months ago the frail-looking businessman resigned as the company's chief executive due to his ill-health, but said he would continue to play a leadership role.
He was replaced by Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, and took the role of chairman of the company's board.
In a letter addressed to Apple's board, the entrepreneur said he "always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come".
Mr Jobs, described by many as an industry oracle who revolutionised computing, survived pancreatic cancer in 2004 before receiving a liver transplant in 2009.
He had taken three spells of leave over the past several years, most recently in January.
After quitting Apple in 1985, Mr Jobs went on to co-found Pixar Animation Studios, which has created some of the most successful animated films of all time including Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Finding Nemo.
In 2006, he sold Pixar to The Walt Disney Company and secured a seat on the board.
He returned to Apple as an adviser in 1996 - the year it lost 900 million US dollars (£580 million) as Microsoft Windows-based PCs dominated the computer market.
However, the tide started to turn following the hugely successful 1998 release of the iMac and Mr Jobs later became chief executive.
Apple's popularity grew across the world throughout the past decade with the introduction of its sleek line of iPods, the iPhone and more recently the iPad.
Mr Cook said Apple had "lost a visionary and creative genius".
In an email circulated to staff, he said: "Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.
"No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve's death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him.
"We will honour his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much."
Additional reporting by PA