By The Associated Press
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, died Wednesday. He was 56.
Apple announced his death without giving a specific cause. He died peacefully, according to a statement from family members who said they were present.
“Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” Apple’s board said in a statement. “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. He took another leave of absence in January — his third since his health problems began — before resigning as CEO six weeks ago. Jobs became Apple’s chairman and handed the CEO job over to his hand-picked successor, Tim Cook
Outside Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, three flags — an American flag, a California state flag and an Apple flag — were flying at half-staff late Wednesday.
“Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor.” Cook wrote in an email to Apple’s employees. “Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”
The news Apple fans and shareholders had been dreading came the day after Apple unveiled its latest version of the iPhone, just one in a procession of devices that shaped technology and society while Jobs was running the company.
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.
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.
Steven Paul Jobs was born Feb. 24, 1955, in San Francisco to Joanne Simpson, then an unmarried graduate student, and Abdulfattah Jandali, a student from Syria. Simpson gave Jobs up for adoption, though she married Jandali and a few years later had a second child with him, Mona Simpson, who became a novelist.
Steven was adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs of Los Altos, Calif., a working-class couple who nurtured his early interest in electronics. He saw his first computer terminal at NASA’s Ames Research Center when he was around 11 and landed a summer job at Hewlett-Packard before he had finished high school.
Jobs enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Ore., in 1972 but dropped out after six months.
“All of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it,” he said at a Stanford University commencement address in 2005. “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out.”
When he returned to California in 1974, Jobs worked for video game maker Atari and attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club — a group of computer hobbyists — with Steve Wozniak, a high school friend who was a few years older.
The pair started Apple Computer Inc. in Jobs’ parents’ garage in 1976. Their first creation was the Apple I — essentially, the guts of a computer without a case, keyboard or monitor.
The Apple II, which hit the market in 1977, was their first machine for the masses. It became so popular that Jobs was worth $100 million by age 25.
Under Jobs, Apple didn’t invent computers, digital music players or smartphones — it reinvented them for people who didn’t want to learn computer programming or negotiate the technical hassles of keeping their gadgets working.
“We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas,” Jobs said in an interview for the 1996 PBS series “Triumph of the Nerds.”
Apple’s popularity exploded in the 2000s. The iPod, smaller and sleeker with each generation, introduced many lifelong Windows users to their first Apple gadget.
Few seemed immune to Jobs’ charisma and will. He could adeptly convince those in his presence of just about anything — even if they disagreed again when he left the room and his magic wore off.
“He always has an aura around his persona,” said Bajarin, who met Jobs several times while covering the company for more than 20 years as a Creative Strategies analyst. “When you talk to him, you know you’re really talking to a brilliant mind.”
Jobs is survived by his biological mother, sister Mona Simpson; Lisa Brennan-Jobs, his daughter with Brennan; wife Laurene, and their three children, Erin, Reed and Eve.