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Editor's note: We are running a selection of some of our favorite -- best, oddest, warmest -- stories from the past few years of the site, starting with this one: arguably the most personal story we ever covered. I wrote this with tears in my eyes. Personally, I think his Stanford Commencement Address (seen below) -- and the follow-up articles we ran with so many quotes from those who knew and admired him (here, here, here, and here) -- are the best tributes to the impact he had on us all.
Apple on Wednesday said that recently exited CEO Steve Jobs had died at the age of 56. No cause was given, although illness following his liver transplant and his ongoing struggle with pancreatic cancer is believed to be core reason. The brief statement from the board of directors, which included a formal memorial page, expressed the company's condolences and commented briefly on his impact.
"We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today," Apple said in the statement. "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."
Jobs had resigned from the company just in late August due to failing health.
The loss is likely to be one of the greatest for the industry in some time. Although Microsoft eventually gained control of the computer industry, many credit Apple for defining the modern concept of the mouse-driven, visual personal computer with the Macintosh in 1984.
Many consider his return to the company in 1997, first on an interim basis and later permanently, to have been one of the greatest second acts in the industry, if not all of business history. He helped computers escape bland design with the iMac in 1998. Jobs may also overturned the entire music industry by popularizing digital music with the iPod and the iTunes Store.
Smartphones are believed to have swung towards touchscreens, media playback, and powerful apps thanks to the success of the iPhone. The iPad, arguably his last major breakthrough, not only rethought the concept of a tablet computer, but ushered in what he referred to as the "post-PC" era, where simpler, non-traditional mobile devices would define how most people computed and got online.
He was also known for having founded NeXT Computer, which both provided the foundations of Mac OS X and even hosted the original World Wide Web. His leadership of Pixar for much of its earlier history ultimately shepherded it to becoming one of the most consistently successful movie studios in the world, both critically and commercially.
Jobs had at times been criticized for an overly-authoritative style. Defenders, however, pointed to his style as avoiding the committee- and shareholder-driven approach that had often ruined other companies. Apple has often been praised for having a clear, direct vision of where it will go where many others have been reactive, often to innovations that Apple brought first.
Without Jobs and his fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, MacNN, iPodNN, and Electronista wouldn't exist. Thank you, Steve.