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Steve Jobs dead at 56

Steve Jobs, the mind behind the iPhone, iPad and other devices that turned Apple Inc. into one of the world's most powerful companies, has died.

Jobs, 56, stepped down as Apple's CEO on August 24 after suffering from a rare form of pancreatic cancer. He handed the reins to current chief executive Tim Cook.

Jobs had been suffering various health issues following an operation for cancer in 2004 and a liver transplant in 2009. In January this year Apple announced he would be taking indeterminate medical leave of absence.

Apple released a statement on its website announcing Jobs' death and describing him as an amazing human being.

“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius,” the statement said.

“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.”

The American entrepreneur had a devoted fan base after being credited with reinventing Apple Inc. as a power player in the tech scene. He was also deemed the heart and soul of the company that rivals Exxon Mobil as the most valuable in the United States.

He was considered one of the most legendary businessmen in American history, turning three separate industries on their head in the 35 years he was involved in the technology industry.

Apple are credited with the invention of personal computers with the launch of the Apple II in 1977. The iPod and iTunes then brought legal downloads into the mainstream in 2007 followed by the iPhone mobile device, which made the tech industry fall to its knees. The mobile phone market was never the same, with copycat products flooding the market - yet rarely competing.

The pinnacle of Jobs' career came with the development of the iPad. His vision to take personal computing to a new level made the touch-screen tablet a technological revolution.

A creative genius, he excelled at business by being a master salesman but always considered himself an artist. His elegance in design was revered, yet he was rarely seen in public wearing anything more than a black turtleneck, blue jeans and a three-day growth. Apple customers considered him superhuman, while he was often feared by the staff who worked for and against him.

His life started in San Francisco, where he was born to young parents and adopted out to Paul and Clara Jobs. The couple and their new son moved to Santa Clara Valley in 1960, which was to become the Silicon Valley, where Apple headquarters are located.

His career kicked off when he discovered his friend Steve Wozniak had been assembling small computers. Forming a partnership, they created Apple Computer in 1976 and like many Silicon Valley start-ups, built the company out of their parent's garage.

The creation of Apple I, with Jobs handling the sales and Wozniak taking care of the technical, made the pair rich and earned them a reputation for brilliance, arrogance, and the possibilities that come with the sheer force of will and persuasion. Though, It was with Apple II they made their name as a company to watch.

The Macintosh was invented 1984, and cemented the company as a big player in the tech scene. It was only a year later, Jobs was removed from his position by his friend, Apple CEO John Sculley, who he had earlier convinced to leave Pepsi and run Apple. The drastic move was put down to a clash on the future vision of the company and backed by the Apple board.

After this, Jobs told a group of university graduates: "What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating."

In a poetic twist, Jobs would return to the company as its saving grace in 1996.

During his hiatus from Apple, he went on to found NeXT, which set about making the next computer in Jobs' eyes. NeXT was never the commercial success that Apple was - yet it was here he concentrated on object-orientated software development. NeXT chose one of his models for its operating systems, proving to be more advanced than the developments being undertaken at Apple without Jobs.

Jobs also served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios and became a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company in 2006, following the acquisition of Pixar by Disney.

Just as Apple found itself in a shambles and on a downhill track, Jobs returned. He convinced then-CEO Gil Amelio to adopt NeXTStep as the future of Apple's operating system development. Apple was losing money, market share, and key employees at the time. It was to be Jobs' guidance which saved them from the brink of collapse.

He became the head of Apple once again in 1997, bringing the buzz back to his brainchild and creating a new following of loyal fans. He also became the brand's superstar.

In touching remarks in 2005, he envisioned how his last years at Apple would come to be his finest:

"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. 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."

Jobs leaves behind his wife, four children, two sisters, and 49,000 Apple employees.

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