Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc, has died in California at the age of 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
The billionaire was behind some of the greatest innovations in modern consumer technology, including the Apple Mac computer, the iPod, iTunes, the iPad and the iPhone.
Jobs stepped down from his position as chief executive at Apple in August due to illness. His resignation letter stated: “I have 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.”
Apple Inc released a statement this morning paying tribute to its founder: “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.”
He is survived by his wife, Laurene, and four children. A family statement said Jobs “died peacefully today surrounded by his family… We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.”
Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft and long-time business rival, said he was “truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’s death,” adding, “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.
“For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely.”
Jobs founded Apple in 1976 with his childhood friend Steve Wozniak. Together they would create one of the first home computers, the Apple II, putting the company at the heart of an explosion in technological development in an area of California later dubbed Silicon Valley.
In 1985, Jobs left Apple after a boardroom bust-up. However, he continued to innovate and prosper during his 11 years away – purchasing the animated division of LucasFilm Ltd that became Pixar, the company behind box office hits such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo.
On returning to Apple in 1996, and later as its official CEO, Jobs led a revolution in technology – first through the colourful and powerful iMac computer (followed by the iBook and G4), and then by diversifying into music technology with iTunes and the iPod, and latterly the introduction of the iPhone and the iPad.
Under his leadership, Apple’s revenues rose from $7.1bn a year in 1997 to $65.2bn a year in 2010. At one point in 2011, Apple was briefly the most valuable company in the world, ahead of oil giant Exxon Mobil.
Jobs leaves an estimated $8.3bn fortune. However, the understated genius insisted he was never driven by money: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me,” he once said. “Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”