Steve Jobs, Apple's founder and former CEO, has died at the age of 56.
An iconic figure, Jobs is credited with ushering in countless consumer technologies -- and always, with an unfailingly personal touch. From the late 1980s to early this year, he took centre stage at Apple product releases -- introducing the world to personal computers, iPods and iPhones with a wide-eyed enthusiasm that proved infectious.
His introduction of the Apple Macintosh in 1984 still mesmerizes on YouTube, long after the actual product was dispatched to technological antiquity. As well, the company's 1984 Super Bowl commercial remains one of the most widely lauded advertisements of all time.
Apple has not divulged the specific cause of death, but the Los Angeles Times reports he suffered from a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Jobs' health has been a concern since his first battle with cancer in 2004. Five years later, he underwent a liver transplant. In January of this year, legions of Apple faithful expressed their concern when Jobs took a leave of absence from the company -- for the third time.
In August of this year, Jobs announced his resignation as CEO of the company he had built on the back not only of design innovation, but his own personal charm. His hand-picked successor, Tim Cook replaced him.
To a public that thrilled to seeing this herald of the shiny-and-new at every product launch, his absence was achingly noticeable.
In Apple's brief news release the company wrote, "We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today."
"Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve"
Jobs' family also released a statement on his passing.
Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family. In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve’s illness; a website will be provided for those who wish to offer tributes and memories.
We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.
A testament to Jobs' transcendent popularity -- and his penchant for making technology personable -- condolences on Wednesday night hailed from a broad range of admirers.
"The world has lost a visionary," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement. "And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Steve’s wife Laurene, his family, and all those who loved him.
A one-time business adversary, Bill Gates told AllThingsD: "I will miss Steve immensely."
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thanked Jobs on his official Facebook page, writing: "Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."
You could hear the collective sigh in Twitterville.
'You left your mark on our desks, on our ears and in our hands," tweeted Darren Rovell.
Singer Regina Spektor added, "A super creative mind- you thought different and definitely changed the world."
And, in our own Huffington Post community, members reflected on his passing -- and a Job-less future.
"One can only hope Mr Jobs genius was infectious," wrote dboiani.
Tech writer John Siracusa posted a personal reflection at tech site Ars Technica, along with a bitter-sweet photo of a young Jobs and the team that developed the original Macintosh.
Brian Lam at the Wirecutter recounted his encounters with Jobs while he was Gizmodo, the site that famously found an iPhone 4.
At AllThingsD, long-time tech writer Walt Mossberg wrote about his many encounters with Jobs.
When it comes to tributes, however, it's hard to imagine him disapproving of this so-very-Jobsian post at Gizmodo.
But in the end, it was the man himself, once again, proving most prescient. Even when it came to his own end.
Back in 2005, Jobs revealed some of his thoughts on death in a heartfelt commencement address at Stanford University, telling students: "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."
IN PHOTOS: STEVE JOBS
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