Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and former CEO who helped revolutionize the personal computer industry, the way we listen to music and mobile communications, died Wednesday. He was 56.
In a statement released on the company's website, the company said, "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."
According to Jobs' family, he died peacefully 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," the family said in a statement.
He is survived by his wife, Laurene, and his four children.
Jobs battled cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant in 2009, after taking a leave of absence for unspecified health reasons. He took another leave of absence in January before stepping down as Apple CEO on August 24. Jobs became Apple's chairman, and Tim Cook became Jobs' successor.
In an email to Apple employees, Cook wrote, "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."
Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. Jobs left the company in 1985, following an internal power struggle within the company. He returned to the company in 1996 and helped the then-struggling company revolutionize the technology industry. Jobs helped invent and masterfully marketed sleek gadgets — from the iMac to the iPod and iPhone — that helped transform everyday technology.
He also co-founded and was CEO of Pixar Animation Studios and served on the Walt Disney Company's board of directors.
Praise for Jobs came from all corners. President Barack Obama said in a statement that Jobs exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. "Jobs was brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it."
Competitor Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, said he was saddened by the news. "Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives," Gates said in a statement. "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."
At the Apple Store in Soho, Robbie Sokolowsky said, "when they look back and see all the technology that has flourished from his innovation, we'll truly know the magnitude and the scope of how he changed the world."
Marvin Parks from Queens, who was also at the store, agreed. "He was an American innovator like Alexander Graham Bell," Parks said. "Bell made the telephone, but Jobs made it better."
Flowers were placed outside the store in remembrance of Jobs, with a message written on an iPod: "We will miss you Steve Jobs."
With the Associated Press