- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Steve Jobs, the Apple founder and former CEO who invented and masterfully marketed ever-sleeker gadgets that transformed everyday technology, from the personal computer to the iPod and iPhone, has died. He was 56.

Apple announced his death without giving a specific cause.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today,” the company said in a brief statement.

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 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 officially resigned in August.

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.

Cultivating Apple’s countercultural sensibility and a minimalist design ethic, Jobs rolled out one sensational product after another, even in the face of the late-2000s recession and his own failing health.

He helped change computers from a geeky hobbyist’s obsession to a necessity of modern life at work and home, and in the process he upended not just personal technology but the cellphone and music industries. For transformation of American industry, he has few rivals.

Perhaps most influentially, Jobs in 2001 launched the iPod, which offered “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Over the next 10 years, its white earphones and thumb-dial control seemed to become more ubiquitous than the wristwatch.

In 2007 came the touch-screen iPhone, joined a year later by Apple’s App Store, where developers could sell iPhone “apps” which made the phone a device not just for making calls but also for managing money, editing photos, playing games and social networking. And in 2010, Jobs introduced the iPad, a tablet-sized, all-touch computer that took off even though market analysts said no one really needed one.

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.

When he spoke at Apple presentations, almost always in faded blue jeans, sneakers and a black mock turtleneck, legions of Apple acolytes listened to every word. He often boasted about Apple successes, then coyly added a coda — “One more thing” — before introducing its latest ambitious idea.

In later years, Apple investors also watched these appearances for clues about his health. Jobs revealed in 2004 that he had been diagnosed with a very rare form of pancreatic cancer — an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor. He underwent surgery and said he had been cured. In 2009, following weight loss he initially attributed to a hormonal imbalance, he abruptly took a six-month leave. During that time, he received a liver transplant that became public two months after it was performed.

He went on another medical leave in January 2011, this time for an unspecified duration. He never went back and resigned as CEO in August, though he stayed on as chairman. Consistent with his penchant for secrecy, he didn’t reference his illness in his resignation letter.

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