New York: Visionary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who revolutionised everyday technology from personal computer to the iPod and iPhone, died on Wednesday at the age of 56 after a seven-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
The death of the charismatic computer genius was announced by Apple, a company with a market capitalisation of over USD 350 billion. Apple had only a day earlier unveiled its latest iPhone, the gadget that transformed mobile communications.
In a brief statement, Apple's Board of Directors 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."
Jobs, who started Apple with high school friend Stephen Wozniak in 1976 in a suburban California garage, leaves behind wife Laurene and their three children. He also has a daughter from a relationship before his marriage in 1991.
In a stunning move in August that had taken the technology world by surprise, Jobs had resigned as CEO of the technology giant and named Tim Cook as his successor.
The iconic technocrat was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant in 2009.
He died of complications from pancreatic cancer in Palo Alto, California, surrounded by his wife and immediate family.
US President Barack Obama condoled Jobs' death, saying "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."
Jobs had been on medical leave since January but had appeared briefly on a few occasions. In March, he unveiled the second version of the iPad and later attended a dinner hosted by President Obama for technology honchos in Silicon Valley.
In June, he was on stage in San Francisco to talk about iCloud, Apple's latest foray into cloud-based computing.
Jobs' health had been visibly deteriorating over the years, with the Apple chief looking more gaunt and frail with each successive appearances he made to launch various path breaking Apple products.
In his letter to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple community, Jobs had said, "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."
Even after his resignation as CEO of Apple, Jobs continued as chairman of the company's board. He was the highly-respected visionary behind some of Apple's most iconic and bestseller products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Tributes poured in from world leaders, competitors and top businessmen, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Larry Page.
Gates said it had "been an insanely great honour" to work with Jobs, his long-time rival. "I am truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs' death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work."
"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," Zuckerberg said.
Page called Jobs a great man with incredible achievements and amazing brilliance.
Under Jobs' leadership, Apple redefined the music business through the iPod, the mobile business through the iPhone and the entertainment and media world through the iPad.
Jobs left Apple in 1985 after a power struggle with the company's board of directors.
The following year he founded NeXt Computer, a computer platform development company specialising in the higher education and business markets.
In 1986, he bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm and re-established it as the independent animation studio Pixar.
Apple subsequently bought NeXT in 1996, bringing Jobs back to the company he had co-founded. Jobs has served as its CEO since 1997.
The net worth of Jobs, a college dropout, Buddhist and son of adoptive parents, is estimated by Forbes magazine in 2010 to be USD 6.1 billion, putting him in the 42nd slot on the list of America's richest.
"Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family," his family said in a statement.
"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," the statement said.
At New York's landmark Apple store, messages and condolences for the tech icon were pouring in -- from an apple, with one bite taken out of it in a tribute to the Apple chief, notes that read 'iThankYou' to bouquets and candles.
First Published: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 08:59