Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dies at age 56

Steve-JobsImage Credit: Shaun Curry/Getty ImagesSteve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. and Pixar Studios, and the man behind the launch of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, died today in California at the age of 56, according to Apple. Jobs first revealed he was battling pancreatic cancer in 2004, having surgery later that year. This past January he announced he was taking a medical leave of absence from his position at Apple until the end of June; he resigned his post as CEO of the company on Aug. 24.

Jobs was a visionary, a technical genius, a ruthless dealmaker, a control freak, a cool-packaging fetishist, and a celeb who loved delivering his company’s products to other celebs as a way to network. But most of all, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was a salesman.

Videos of his keynote addresses, those heavily live-blogged events at which he unveiled the latest Apple products and innovations, are archived all over the Internet. They’ll be dissected at business schools for decades, because they demonstrate directly that there’s never been a more galvanizing high-tech celebrant. Whatever he was extolling—the introduction of the iPad, the latest iteration of the iPhone, the newest, most capacious iPod music players—Jobs came on not like a business executive but like an amalgam of high priest and rock star. He brought a showman’s flair to what were essentially glorified PowerPoint presentations, prowling a stark promontory with a large display screen behind him and dressed always in jeans, sneakers and a mock-turtleneck black shirt. (Did he own any other kind of presentation outfit?) He was especially good at proselytizing about the convergence of hand-held devices, computers, and digital media. “You can take your whole music library with you right in your pocket,” he gushed to an audience in October 2001, when the first iPod debuted and permanently smashed the idea of CDs as hip. “Never before possible.” While demonstrating the first iPad touch-screen-tablet computer in January 2010, he piled on superlatives, pronouncing the device “awesome,” “incredible,” “phenomenal,” “super-responsive, super-precise,” and finally “magical and revolutionary”—and yet he never sounded specious.

That was perhaps Jobs’s greatest gift: to make blatant hyperbole feel like a rightly enthusiastic celebration of demonstrable facts, by virtue of what both admirers and detractors called his personal “reality distortion field.”

Alas, we’ve lost our wizard of aahs. Though he never fully acknowledged it publicly—he hated the fact that his health was a global talking point—Jobs was evidently felled by ongoing complications from a rare form of pancreatic cancer he’d been fighting in earnest since 2004. He died Oct. 5, in California. In sickness as in business, Jobs wanted to shape the message. There was a pattern to his medical travails: He would disappear first, triggering rampant speculation that his death was imminent. (Just Google “Steve Jobs death watch” and marvel at the long trail of false alarms.) He would then bounce back and reveal, obliquely, what had been going on, but only after the fact. He had secret surgery to remove a tumor back in 2004. A liver transplant put him out of action for six months in 2009, by which time he had grown startlingly gaunt in public appearances. In January 2011, Jobs announced an indefinite and unexplained medical leave, promising he’d be back “as soon as I can.” He never made it. Instead, after resigning his CEO title on Aug. 24, he suffered the saddest fatal system error the computing world has ever known. He’d seemed super-human for so long, hanging on against a disease that’s typically fatal within months.

Because Jobs made himself such a high-profile CEO, the media has been busy not only mourning his loss, but evaluating how big a financial ripple effect his departure may create. At Pixar Animation Studios, birthplace of the Toy Story films and so many other computer-animated hits, including Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Up, Jobs had served for 21 years as a deep-pocketed benefactor and CEO, from 1985 to 2006. But he’d never been involved in day-to-day creative duties. Once he sold Pixar to Disney in 2006, Jobs was more an overlord than a hands-on manager. At Disney, he’d used the Pixar purchase to become a board member, an idea-man gadfly to CEO Robert Iger, as well as the company’s largest shareholder. His genius for pied-pipering the public into new media platforms will certainly be missed at the studio.


Comments (143 total) Add your comment
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  • Liz

    Sad news, RIP Steve

    • MOn

      You’ve brought so much joy to our lives, we will remember you always, RIP

      • apple lover

        all I can say is what the f*ck this man was supposed to be invincible I remember I loved watching keynotes and the way he talked. ): rip Steve jobs

      • Cracker

        No man is invincible.

      • Cracker

        Who will all the hippsters, posers, and yuppies look up to now that Steve is gone?

      • greg

        we are putting steve on a diet and get a pretty girl with a box filled with ding dongs and twinkies on the other end of a running machine to help motivate him to get back to work again

      • lori

        iJustine is probably catatonic

      • Lisa

        I knew I should’ve borrowed 10 million from him last week.

      • robin

        oh no my apple stock is going to drop tomorrow.. this sucks!

      • DDubSolider

        I’m crying!! He never got to see the iPhone 5 come out! You saw the 4S man,you saw the 4S!!! He was such an awesome dude. I feel like a piece of my heart has been ripped out. R.I.P Steve Jobs,you were a genius,an inventor,a smart guy,and a great dude. I’ll always remember u. I’m typing this on my iPad,it’s very hard for me. My mom actually started crying when my dad told us. I was like super shocked. R.I.P man,luv u forever.

      • deedee

        too bad he didn’t use his genius for science, instead of entertainment. Imagine what he might have done

      • geek

        @deedee Just think of how trendy the space shuttle might have looked

      • xin

        Really sad news. RIP Steve. Thank you for all the innovations you gave us.BTW,I wanna share a good news to you.My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire man who is a businessman!they met via Millionaireloving.C óM ..it is the largest and best club for rich people and their admirers to chat online. …You do not have to be rich or famous. ,but you can meet one , It’s worthy a try,Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends!

    • sunnie

      RIP, funny man.

      • ross sto

        He was really something on Saturday night live! The show hasn’t been the same since passed.

      • Steve Jobs

        iDied

      • brandon

        you mean he was retarted

      • r

        Steve, how is the afterlife?

    • dee dee1

      For sure. What a legend. Wishing a restful peace for Steve.

    • Steve Jobs

      I am not dead. I am simply testing a new I phone application….Faking Your Death.

  • Person

    He was a great man and will be missed. RIP

    • Jackie

      This is so sad.. from my Macbook, thank you Steve.

  • April

    From my iPad…thank you Mr. Jobs and may you rest in peace.

    • Geek

      No iPhone5, and now this? :( You’re a legend Steve Jobs.

    • Aura Lee

      I write this from my Macbook while my husband cuts video on our iMac (kicking it old school), and our son browses his iPad, Mr. Jobs, you shaped the technology that has built our lives. Changed the game in every way, led the underdog to victory. Bless and RIP.

      • sboorum

        Wow….Mother…Father…Son….all on different electronic gadgets……that is some amazing family bonding…..sent from my blackberry.

      • Flicker

        How sad. A family spending all its time at separate machines, a cold existence, instead of together. That’s what” technology” has done to us.

      • Marcie

        Nah, my family is like this too. We’re all in the same room, telling each other what we’re doing and what we see. It’s just a new way of bonding. The world changes. Think how everyone thought about the industrial revolution in the 1800s, when the extended family started to disappear.

      • Sara

        people have a tendency to romanticize the past in all things and that’s all i’m going say

      • geek

        are you saying that my apple IIe is crap now? sigh

  • Kim

    Rest in peace Steve Jobs.

  • Ken

    R.I.P Steve, you were the deffinition of the word innovator.

  • Jake

    Thanks for all of the technology you created. R.I.P

  • Whitie

    Damn, thats horrible. . .I bet Android is happy as f*ck. But still, sad.

  • Bill Gates

    Huh?

  • Aris

    Really sad news. RIP Steve. Thank you for all the innovations you gave us.

  • Bill Gates

    I’m still here…

    • ^

      You can wipe your @$$ with those sh!tty Windows!

      • Bill Gates

        LMFAO all the way to the bank…

      • Dessa

        Among others, Bill Gates epitaphs will read “How the f*** does this work?”, “You call this STABLE?” and “Blue Screen of Death.” But probably not “Visionary” and/or “Genius.” Shame for mentioning him in the same breath as Steve Jobs. Shame on you.

      • Bill Gates

        But if it wasn’t for me none of you would even be using Apple.

      • Not Moby

        Dessa, you know what else Bill Gates’ epitaphs will read? Philanthropist and Humanitarian. Two words I’ve yet to hear uttered in all this Steve Jobs talk.

    • Emma

      I still love my Vaio but I can appreciate that he was a visionary. That aside, amazon sells the same songs/movies/tv shows for way less. How itunes get’s away this highway robbery is the real miracle.

  • UGH

    Rest in peace, brother.

  • Mincha

    Really sad news. He truly was a visionary who changed our ways of doing things. As a matter of fact, I’d been listening to my iPod (on shuffle), surfing the internet when the news broke. RIP, Steve. You’ve left an incredible legacy.

    • Omar Colley

      Steve Jobs shall be remembered forever,he has done a great job for the benefit of the in coming may the Almighty Allah continue to guide him all the way in heaven.Amen

  • etm

    How terribly sad. He was so young.

  • Lisa

    A true visionary, you and your passion will be missed.

  • Kevin

    I’m really sad right now. What an amazing life he lived.

    • lovebug69

      iSad!

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