Steve Jobs, the mastermind behind Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac and iTunes, has died today, Apple said. Jobs was 56.
Jobs started Apple with a high school friend in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, was forced out a decade later and returned in 1997 to rescue the company. During his second stint, it grew into the most valuable technology company in the world with a market value of $351 billion. Almost all that wealth has been created since Jobs' return.
The world lost a showman, whose flair for the dramatic — there was always "one more thing" —he was as keen as his knack for divining what people wanted before they even seemed to realize it themselves.
Reaction to Jobs' death came from far and wide:
From the White House;
"Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs," President Obama said in a written statement. "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."
From Bill Gates;
"I'm truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs' death. 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," Bill Gates said. "For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely." he added.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg;
"Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend," it read. "Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google Inc;
"He's clearly the most effective and successful American CEO in the last 50 years. He didn't just found Apple, and he didn't actually just make it successful in the first decade, he also took it after a bad period, and rebuilt it. Which has essentially never been done in an American corporations, to be the extraordinary company it is today. To me, Steve proves that nerds don't win. Artists do. And that Steve who is both a technologist, but really an artist, shows that art matters and the rest of us missed the fact that beautiful simple products are what people want."
Walt Disney Company president Bob Iger:
"Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted advisor. His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built. It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined. Steve was such an "original," with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era. Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started. With his passing the world has lost a rare original, Disney has lost a member of our family, and I have lost a great friend.
Howard Stringer, Sony Corp. CEO
"The digital age has lost its leading light, but Steve's innovation and creativity will inspire dreamers and thinkers for generations."
Jerry Yang, Yahoo!, Inc. co-founder and former CEO:
"Steve was my hero growing up. He not only gave me a lot of personal advice and encouragement, he showed all of us how innovation can change lives. I will miss him dearly, as will the world."
Jeffrey Biegel, pianist and composer
"Steve Jobs expanded technology and the progress of computerization from the 20th to the 21st century as Ludwig van Beethoven transcended the world of music, transitioning from late Classical style to the Romantic style from the 18th century into the 19th century. Mr. Jobs legacy is forever etched in the pages of time and history for generations to follow."
Jobs co-founded Apple Computer in 1976 and, with his childhood friend Steve Wozniak, marketed what was considered the world's first personal computer, the Apple II.
You get shocked when people you know die," Wozniak said. "And this was closer to when John Lennon died, or JFK or Martin Luther King."
By 2011, Apple had become the second-largest company of any kind in the United States by market value. In August, it briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil as the most valuable company. Under Jobs, the company cloaked itself in secrecy to build frenzied anticipation for each of its new products. Jobs himself had a wizardly sense of what his customers wanted, and where demand didn't exist, he leveraged a cult-like following to create it.
Jobs had battled cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant in 2009 after taking a leave of absence for unspecified health problems. He took another leave of absence in January — his third since his health problems began — and resigned in August. Jobs became Apple's chairman and handed the CEO job over to his hand-picked successor, Tim Cook.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life," Steve Jobs said. "Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important." he added.