Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder who pioneered the PC industry and transformed the way people consume music, movies and mobile media, died Wednesday at the age of 56.
“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being,” said Tim Cook, his longtime deputy, in a letter to employees. “We will honour his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.”
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company didn’t specify the cause of death, but a friend of the family said Jobs died of complications from his battle with pancreatic cancer. Several years ago received a liver transplant, and in August, Jobs resigned as chief executive, handing the reins to Cook.
In 1976, Jobs, along with partner Steve Wozniak, started Apple with a focus on personal computers, releasing the Apple II a year later. The Apple II became the benchmark for PCs and helped jumpstart the desktop computer revolution.
Despite Apple’s early success, an industry-wide downturn and a deteriorating relationship with then-CEO John Sculley forced Jobs out of the company he started in 1985.
But Jobs returned in 1996, and turned Apple around from the brink of bankruptcy. He set up standards for design and user-friendliness — combining efficiency and aesthetic elegance — and led the creation of the iPod, changing not just the MP3 player, but the entire music industry.
But the most productive chapter in Jobs’ career came near the end of his life, with a string of successful products like the iPhone and iPad. The products changed the way people use mobile devices and consume digital-media, helping to turn Apple into a pop-culture phenomenon.
Cook is expected to continue Apple’s momentum, and Wozniak believes Jobs has left behind a well-oiled machine.
“He really has had to sacrifice a lot to run Apple,” Wozniak said. “Everyone wants you day and night, that’s what I mean by sacrifices. It takes so much out of anyone to be under just constant pressure and demands like that.”
As Jobs said when he lured then-Pepsi CEO Sculley to lead Apple in 1983, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?”