The world lost a showman, whose flair for the dramatic - there was always "one more thing" - was as keen as his knack for divining what people wanted before they even seemed to realize it themselves.
- Op-ed: Remembering Steve Jobs
Apple announced his death without giving a specific cause. He died peacefully, according to a statement from family members who said they were present.
Screenshot of Apple's homepage
"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 - 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.
It didn't take long for the people who loved their iPhones, iPods, iPads and Macs to begin gathering to pay their respects to the man who made it all happen.
Scott Robbins, a barber and Apple fan for nearly 20 years, came to Apple's San Francisco store as soon as he heard about Jobs' death Wednesday afternoon.
"To some people, this is like Elvis Presley or John Lennon - it's a change in our times," Robbins, 34, said. "It's the end of an era, of what we've known Apple to be. It's like the end of the innovators."
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.
Cultivating Apple's countercultural sensibility and a minimalist design ethic, Jobs rolled out one sensational product after another, even in the face of the late-2000s recession and his own failing health.
He helped change computers from a geeky hobbyist's obsession to a necessity of modern life at work and home, and in the process he upended not just personal technology but the cellphone and music industries.
For transformation of American industry, he has few rivals He has long been linked to his personal computer-age contemporary, Bill Gates, and has drawn comparisons to other creative geniuses such as Walt Disney. Jobs died as Walt Disney Co.'s largest shareholder, a by-product of his decision to sell computer animation studio Pixar in 2006.
In 2007 came the touch-screen iPhone, joined a year later by Apple's App Store, where developers could sell iPhone "apps" which made the phone a device not just for making calls but also for managing money, editing photos, playing games and social networking. And in 2010, Jobs introduced the iPad, a tablet-sized, all-touch computer that took off even though market analysts said no one really needed one.
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.