Apple co-founder & visionary Steve Jobs dead

Apple visionary and founder Steve Jobs has died at age 56.

Jobs, who had struggled with his health since fighting a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004, had recently been on a long leave of absence for medical reasons from the company. In late August, he resigned his position as CEO, ceding the title to current CEO Tim Cook. Jobs took the job as Chairman of Apple’s board of directors.

His passing came one day after Apple held a press conference to introduce the new iPhone 4S.

Apple has posted a picture of Jobs on the front page of its website with a simple caption: “1955-2011.”

On its website, Apple says:

“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

The company invites fans to send thoughts and condolences to rememberingsteve@apple.com.

In an official press statement, Apple said: “We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today. 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.”

Jobs was born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955 to a Syrian immigrant father and his U.S. mother, whom were both grad students at the University of Wisconsin. Her mother gave him up for adoption when Jobs’ father would not allow her to marry him. He was adopted by machinist Paul Jobs and his wife, Clara, who was an accountant. Jobs went to high school in Cupertino, Calif, where Apple now has its headquarters, and Jobs graduated high school in 1972.

He briefly went to college in Oregon but dropped out. He came back to California in 1974 and started working at the video game company, Atari. In 1975, he met Steve Wozniak, who liked to build homemade computers. Wozniak and Jobs built one in Jobs’ parents garage.

In 1976, they created Apple to sell what they built. Their follow up to the original Apple, the Apple II, helped spawn the PC industry.

But by 1985, after a string of successes, Apple — now a big company — was met with a string of failures. Jobs resigned.

While he was away, Jobs founded NeXT Computer, which wasn’t financially successful, but in 1986 Jobs also bought what would become Pixar Animation studios. Jobs was CEO when “Toy Story” was released in 1995. The movie did more than $350 million in worldwide sales.

By then, Apple was close to closing. It bought NeXT for $429 million and Jobs came back in 1997.

When he came back, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy. Through a tough, narrow vision — and his famous ability to say “No,” even to good ideas if they held back great ones — Jobs helped Apple rise from the ashes with a string of consumer successes.

Today, only Exxon Mobil Corp is worth more than Apple.

Jobs’ new Apple released the iMac, iPod, the iTunes music store, the iPhone, the iPad. Each was a bigger hit than the last. Jobs’ maniacal attention to detail was key to the products’ success. He pushed Apple to make products that looked good and were easy to use, spawning one of Jobs’ favorite lines:

“It just works.”

But more than that, Apple was, in a lot of ways, Jobs. He made Apple’s “keynotes” — gatherings of the media when the company would introduce new products — must-see TV, even if you had to watch over the internet via a crappy connection. Dressed in his signature black turtleneck and blue jeans, armed only with a slideshow clicker in his hand, Jobs could command a room and make you believe that whatever he was selling was something you had to have.

He had the ability to know what you wanted before you did.

The tech world lost a friend today and it will probably never again see another one like him.

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