Apple Co-Founder And Chairman Steve Jobs Has Died

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs has died, the company said late Wednesday. He was 56.

Jobs stepped down from his longtime role as Apple CEO in August, after years of suffering from complications related to pancreatic cancer. His death comes one day after Apple unveiled the latest version of one of his many game-changing technology products, the iPhone.

Apple’s board of directors announced his death in a statement:

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.

The company took the iPhone 4S off its home page following the announcement of Jobs’ death and replaced it with his official Apple portrait.

Upon clicking on Jobs’s image, Apple displayed this statement and invited visitors to submit their memories to [email protected]:

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 have lost a dear friend and inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

Under Jobs, Apple changed the technology industry more than once over his two separate terms in office, most recently from 1997, when he re-assumed command of the company he founded with Steve Wozniak. That stretch in Apple’s history produced the iMac, iPod, iTunes, Macbook Air, iPhone, iPad, and billions of dollars in profits.

Jobs’ health problems began in 2004, when he underwent surgery to treat pancreatic cancer. He appeared to regain his health but started to appear thinner and thinner throughout 2008 and into 2009, in what was believed to be an inability to properly digest food. He took a six-month medical leave from Apple in 2009, and underwent a liver transplant during that time. After returning to Apple in the summer of 2009, the company introduced the iPad in 2010 in order to jump-start a whole new category of mobile computing that was largely defined by Apple’s (and Jobs’) taste and skills.

He took an indefinite medical leave earlier this year, and stepped down as CEO in August, giving way to longtime understudy Tim Cook.

Cook sent an e-mail to Apple employees following the announcement, which Apple distributed. “No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much,” he wrote.

Jobs is survived by his wife Laurene and their three children: Reed, Erin, and Eve. Jobs was also the father of Lisa Brennan-Jobs.

Jobs’ family issued this statement:

Steve died peacefully today 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; a website will be provided for those who wish to offer tributes and memories. We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.

A spectrum of individual reactions from around the tech, business, media, and even political worlds poured out Wednesday evening.

More on Steve Jobs in our archives.

President Obama issued this statement:

By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike.

With the 2006 sale of Pixar to Disney (NYSE: DIS) for $7.4 billion in stock, Jobs, who has been compared to Walt Disney in terms of creative vision and impact, became the largest individual shareholder and a member of the board. But his influence at Disney began before that.

In 2005, he convinced Disney CEO Bob Iger to make ABC the first broadcast network offering programs through iTunes. The rapport the two of them achieved helped make the Pixar deal possible and laid the groundwork for a successful integration. Iger issued this statement:

Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted advisor. His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built. It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined. Steve was such an ‘original,’ with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era. Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started. With his passing the world has lost a rare original, Disney has lost a member of our family, and I have lost a great friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Laurene and his children during this difficult time.

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin posted this on his Google+ feed:

From the earliest days of Google, whenever Larry and I sought inspiration for vision and leadership, we needed to look no farther than Cupertino. Steve, your passion for excellence is felt by anyone who has ever touched an Apple product (including the macbook I am writing this on right now). And I have witnessed it in person the few times we have met. On behalf of all of us at Google and more broadly in technology, you will be missed very much. My condolences to family, friends, and colleagues at Apple.

Larry Page, Google’s current CEO and co-founder, had this to say:

He always seemed to be able to say in very few words what you actually should have been thinking before you thought it. His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me. He was very kind to reach out to me as I became CEO of Google and spend time offering his advice and knowledge even though he was not at all well.

Google, a fierce rival of Apple’s over the past several years, added a link to Apple’s Web page and Jobs tribute beneath its search bar with the simple inscription “Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011.”

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Jobs’ foil for decades, invoked a famous Jobs catchphrase on his Twitter feed: “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with Steve, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.” Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and the likely heir to Jobs’ status as the most iconic leader in Silicon Valley, posted this on his personal Facebook feed: “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.”