Apple Inc. announced that its co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, died Wednesday at age 56.

Jobs stepped down unexpectedly as CEO of Apple in August, after having taken his second medical leave of absence in two years.

Apple announced Jobs’ death one day after newly appointed CEO Tim Cook revealed the latest iPhone in the style of public address that made Jobs and his products famous.

The company’s website Wednesday evening carried a large image of Jobs and the following statement: “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. 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.”

Apple’s success has widely been attributed to Jobs’ personal taste and hands-on management. Under his leadership, the company produced what many consider to be the first personal computer, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, all game-changing devices that helped Apple become the most highly valued company in the world.

Jobs was fired by his own board at the age of 30, but returned to the company when it was on the brink of death and revived it. It’s a testament to Jobs’ business savvy that it’s worth mentioning only as a footnote in his obituary that iTunes is the largest music retailer in the world.

In 2005, while giving the commencement address to Stanford University (embedded below), Jobs said, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent.”

Jobs, whose family said he died peacefully, is survived by his wife, Laurene, and four children. — BF and PZS

The Wall Street Journal:

“Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” Apple said in a statement. “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”

His family, in a separate statement, said Mr. Jobs “died peacefully today surrounded by his family…We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.”

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