Steve Jobs, who built the world’s most valuable technology company by creating devices that changed how people use electronics and revolutionized the computer, music and mobile-phone industries, died. He was 56.
Jobs, who resigned as Apple Inc. chief executive officer on Aug. 24, 2011, passed away yesterday, the Cupertino, California- based company said. He was diagnosed in 2003 with a neuroendocrine tumor, a rare form of pancreatic cancer, and had a liver transplant in 2009.
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away,” Apple said. “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 embodied the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He was a long-haired counterculture technophile who dropped out of college and started a computer company in his parents’ garage on April Fools’ Day, 1976. He had no formal technical training and no real business experience.
What he had instead was an appreciation of technology’s elegance and a notion that computers could be more than a hobbyist’s toy or a corporation’s workhorse. These machines could be indispensable tools. A computer could be, he often said, “a bicycle for our minds.” He was right -- owing largely to a revolution he started.
Jobs’s passing was met with an outpouring of grief from consumers who laid flowers and posted tributes on the walls of Apple stores and technology executives who partnered and competed with Jobs over the years and paid homage in statements. Flags flew at half-mast at Apple’s headquarters and the company published an honorarium on its website. Even U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama lamented the loss.
“Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs,” Obama said. “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators -- brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”
On his watch, Apple came to dominate the digital age, first through the creation of the Macintosh computer and later through the iPod digital music player, the iPhone wireless handset and more recently, the iPad tablet.
With each product, Jobs confronted new adversaries -- from International Business Machines Corp. in computers to Microsoft Corp. in operating systems, to Sony Corp. in music players and Google Inc. in mobile software.
Visionary to Virtuoso
And Jobs would prove himself not just a techie visionary, but the virtuoso executive who built the world’s second-most valuable company after Exxon Mobil Corp.
The opening act of Jobs’s professional ascent stretched from 1976 to 1984. He scored his first hit with the Apple II computer, a device that resonated with schools and some consumers and small businesses, and made Apple an alluring alternative to IBM, then the world’s largest computer maker. Apple had its initial public offering in 1980 and the graphical Macintosh was born just over three years later.
During his second act, from 1984 to 1997, Jobs’s star dimmed. In 1985, he was fired after a power struggle with Apple’s board. He started another computer company, NeXT Computer Inc., and bought a digital animation studio from filmmaker George Lucas. The firm later took the name Pixar.