Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, has died at the age of 56 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Apple announced that its pioneering former chief executive, who gave the world the revolutionary iPhone and iPad devices, died yesterday surrounded by his family. Jobs stepped down from his post as Apple’s chief executive in August, no longer able to handle the job due to his illness.
Jobs’ death sparked an outpouring of tributes from world leaders, business rivals and fans.
US President Barack Obama said 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.”
Fans paid homage to Jobs outside Apple stores around the world, from Los Angeles to Sydney. Outside one store in New York City, mourners laid candles, bouquets of flowers, an apple and an iPod Touch in a makeshift memorial. In San Francisco, they held up black-and-white portraits of Jobs on their iPads. Many websites, including Apple's own, were transformed into online memorials, a testament to the digital creativity that Jobs inspired.
"For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honour," said Microsoft's Bill Gates.
Job’s, a college drop-out and the son of adoptive parents, changed the technology world in the late 1970s, when the Apple II became the first personal computer to gain a wide following. He did it again in 1984 with the Macintosh, which built on the breakthrough technologies developed at Xerox Parc and elsewhere to create the personal computing experience as we know it today.
The rebel streak that was central to his persona got him tossed out of the company in 1985, but he returned in 1997 and after a few years began the rollout of a troika of products - the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad - that again upended the established order in major industries.
A diagnosis of a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 initially cast only a mild shadow over Jobs and Apple, with the CEO asserting that the disease was treatable. But his health deteriorated rapidly over the past several years, and after two temporary leaves of absence he stepped down as chief executive and became Apple's chairman in August.
Apple changed its website to a big black-and-white photograph of him with the caption “Steve Jobs: 1955-2011.” The flags outside the company's headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop flew at half mast. Employees left flowers on a bench and a mourner played music on bagpipes in an impromptu tribute.
“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,” Apple said in a statement.
“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.”