Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, died Wednesday at age 56. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
Jobs had been battling cancer for at least six years, telling his employees in 2004 that he was being treated for the disease, and undergoing a liver transplant in 2009. On August 24, he announced to the board of Apple that he was stepping down as CEO, whereupon Tim Cook, the COO, took over.
Jobs' death comes one day after the company, now under the helm of Tim Cook, announced the iPhone 4S, the latest in a series of handheld products that has catapulted Apple as one of the leading device makers over the past decade, starting with the iPod and iTunes in 2001.
Born in 1955, Jobs grew up in Cupertino, California, and co-founded Apple in 1975 with Steve Wozniak, building the company's first computer, the Apple 1, in his parents' garage. In 1977, they released the Apple II, the first mass-market personal computer. In 1985, Jobs was ousted as CEO of Apple and went on to found NeXT Computer, which was purchased by Apple in 1996 for $400 million.
In 1998, Jobs, once again CEO of Apple, announced the iMac, an all-in-one computer that not only abandoned the drab beige boxes in favor of multiple colors, but was also the first notebook to eschew a floppy drive. That was followed the next year by the iBook, a laptop that also used the same bright colors as the iMac.
Perhaps Jobs' biggest success, and indicator of his forward thinking, was the introduction of iTunes in 2001, which changed the way consumers purchase music. Combined with the iPod, it led to Apple's domination in the MP3 music player category. That was followed by the iPhone in 2007, the MacBook Air in 2008, and the iPad in 2010, all of which presaged explosive growth of devices in their respective categories.
Following Jobs' death, Tim Cook sent out the following note to all Apple employees:
I have some very sad news to share with all of you. Steve passed away earlier today.
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 an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.
We are planning a celebration of Steve’s extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences in the interim, you can simply email email@example.com.
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.