Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs has died at age 56 after a long illness. Tributes have been pouring in from around the world. Jobs was an entrepreneur and innovator who changed several industries.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook called Jobs "an amazing human being, a visionary and a creative genius". With his trademark black turtleneck shirt and jeans, Jobs was known a charismatic business leader and an innovator.
"We just try to build products we think are really wonderful and that people might want. And, sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong," Jobs said.
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Jobs had suffered from health problems since surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004. He underwent a liver transplant in 2009 but returned to work. He took a leave of absence last January, his third since his health problems started, but he announced in August he was stepping down as Apple's chief executive. He stayed on as chairman of the board.
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Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976 and, after the experimental Apple I, they ushered in the age of personal computing with the Apple II. In 1984, Apple released the Macintosh, a pioneering device with a graphic interface that opened personal computing to the general public.
Media analyst Jonathan Taplin of the University of Southern California says Jobs had a keen sense of design that made successive products from the Macintosh to iPad and iPhone all successful.
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“They have a very clean design that’s incredibly functional and a kind of natural sense of ease of use. And that’s what he always went for. I want to make this easy to use for anybody,” he said.
Taplin notes that Apple, with Jobs at its helm, also changed how we listen to music with creation of the music download service iTunes.
“The music business before Apple’s iTunes was a business of selling compact discs in stores. Today, there are hardly any stand-alone stores that sell compact discs because the business has moved online,” he said.
Road to success
Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985 by a hostile board of directors. He bought a small production house that became Pixar Studios the following year, and Taplin says Jobs turned it into a powerhouse of animated movies before selling it to the Disney Company five years ago the greatest of American innovators.
Jobs would again take the helm at Apple in 1997, and was widely seen as the force behind the company's huge success.
Among those who offered condolences were President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, who said in a written statement that Jobs was among the greatest of American innovators.
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A timeline of Steve Jobs' life and career
February 24, 1955: Steven Paul Jobs is born in California. He grows up in the area that is to become known as Silicon Valley.
1974: Jobs works as a technician with the video game maker Atari. He saves money and then travels to India to find spiritual enlightenment.
April 1, 1976: Jobs and Steve Wozniak found Apple Computer after working on the design of their first computer in the garage of Jobs' home. They introduce the Apple I.
January 24, 1984: Apple introduces the Macintosh, an all-in-one desktop machine that is widely credited with revolutionizing the personal computer industry.
September 1985: Jobs resigns from Apple following a long-running dispute with other top executives.
1986: Jobs forms a new software company called NeXT, Inc., and buys a computer animation studio from Stars Wars creator George Lucas. The studio, Pixar, makes some of the most popular computer-animated films, including Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo.
1997: NeXT struggles and is bought by Apple, which also has been losing money. Jobs returns to Apple and eventually to his role as chief executive.
1998: Under Jobs' leadership, Apple introduces its newest personal computer, the iMac, and returns to profitability.
October 2001: Apple introduces the iPod, promoting the personal digital music player as "1,000 songs in your pocket."
April 28, 2003: Apple launches the iTunes Music Store, an online store selling 200,000 songs for 99 cents apiece. The company also introduces an upgraded iPod that is thinner and lighter, and capable of holding up to 7,500 songs.
August 2004: Jobs is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and undergoes surgery.
December 2004: iPod sales hit the 10 million mark. The number of songs downloaded from the iTunes store tops 200 million. October 2005: Apple introduces a new iPod that plays videos in addition to music. The iTunes stores sells one million videos in less than three weeks.
January 2007: Apple introduces the iPhone.
September 2007: Apple introduces the iPod Touch, which uses a touch-screen interface and has wireless networking capabilities.
June 2008: Apple introduces an updated iPhone, capable of running software applications - apps - that are designed by other companies, creating a new industry of phone apps.
July 2008: Apple creates the App Store as the new iPhone 3G goes on sale. More than 10 million apps are downloaded during the store's first few days.
February 2009: Jobs begins a six-month medical leave of absence. It is later revealed that he underwent a liver transplant.
January 2010: Apple introduces its first touch screen tablet computer, the iPad.
January 2011: Jobs takes a second medical leave of absence but tells Apple employees he will remain involved in major strategic decisions.
March 2011: Jobs appears at an Apple event to introduce the iPad 2. The Financial Times says Apple's stock rises about 2 percent in the minutes after he begins speaking.
August 10, 2011: Apple briefly surpasses oil company ExxonMobil to become the world's most valuable company.
August 24, 2011: Jobs resigns as Apple chief executive. Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, takes over as CEO.