Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs Dead at 56

Jobs had stepped down as CEO earlier this year

Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder, chairman and former CEO, has died, the company announced Wednesday evening. 

A statement released by Apple reads, in part, "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. 

"His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts."

The Apple website now features an image of Jobs, who was 56, with a brief message saying that "his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

Apple did not disclose a cause of death, but it was not unexpected. His health problems began in 2004, when he told Apple employees that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After multiple medical leaves of absence, he resigned as CEO of the company on Aug. 24 of this year.

In stepping down, he said, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

After co-founding Apple Computer Inc. with Steve Wozniak in Jobs' parents’ garage in 1976, Jobs went on to create the Apple II, the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iTunes, iMac, and what is now the biggest company in the world. In addition to Apple, his legacy includes Pixar, and he was on the board of the Walt Disney Company.

Jobs, who dropped out of Reed College after six months, was one of Silicon Valley’s pioneers and an inspiration to the tech entrepreneurs who followed in his path. But though he was widely revered as a modern-day Thomas Edison, he was also notoriously private about his personal life. 

Throughout his professional life, and particularly during his battle with cancer, he stayed out of the public spotlight, only appearing before Apple fans at annual Apple events.

He is survived by his wife Laurene and four children.

“Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family,” Jobs’ family said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”