Jobs had been battling pancreatic cancer since 2004 and received a liver transplant in 2009. He took his third medical leave at the beginning of this year and stepped down as the company's CEO six weeks ago. Jobs' gaunt appearance in the past few years worried investors and Apple loyalists, but as with many aspects of his life, Jobs remained fiercely private about his health struggles.
In a statement posted on Apple's website, the company said, "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."
Apple's homepage, which normally features the company's newest gadgets, was transformed into a tribute to the man behind some of the company's most successful products, featuring a full-page image of Jobs and the text "Steve Jobs, 1955-2001."
Flags outside company headquarters in Cupertino were flying at half-staff Wednesday evening.
The Apple Board of Directors said in a statement that, "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."
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says that he was "shocked and disturbed" when he learned of Jobs' passing.
Wednesday evening, as word of Jobs' death spread, Apple faithful gathered at Apple stores around the Bay Area to pay tribute and share memories of Apple's leader.
Apple's and Jobs' influence reached to the highest level. Even President Barack Obama issued a statement on Jobs' death, saying, "Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs. Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it. By building one of the planet's most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. "
Jobs founded Apple in 1976 out of a Silicon Valley garage. He was ousted from the company in the 1980s but returned in the late 90s and rejuvenated the company with iconic products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone and most recently, the iPad. Jobs also helped build the image of the Silicon Valley; he is well known for favoring his trademark jeans and black mock turtleneck over the business suits preferred by other company heads.
In addition to his influence on the tech industry, Jobs also played a key role in the development of computer animation in the entertainment industry. In 1986, Jobs bought the computer graphics arm of George Lucas' film company Lucasfilm. That company later went on to become Pixar Animation.
In August, Jobs stepped down as CEO and became the company's chairman. Jobs' hand-picked successor Tim Cook took over and on Tuesday, headed Apple's first product launch since Jobs' departure with the unveiling of the iPhone 4S.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said, "I'm truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs' death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work. Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely."
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who as a young CEO had looked to Jobs as a mentor, posted a statement on Facebook saying, "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."
Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin also released statements on Jobs' passing, posting their condolences on the company's social networking website, Google+.
Page wrote, "I am very, very sad to hear the news about Steve. He was a great man with incredible achievements and amazing brilliance. He always seemed to be able to say in very few words what you actually should have been thinking before you thought it. His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me. He was very kind to reach out to me as I became CEO of Google and spend time offering his advice and knowledge even though he was not at all well. My thoughts and Google's are with his family and the whole Apple family."
Brin added, "From the earliest days of Google, whenever Larry and I sought inspiration for vision and leadership, we needed to look no farther than Cupertino. Steve, your passion for excellence is felt by anyone who has ever touched an Apple product (including the macbook I am writing this on right now). And I have witnessed it in person the few times we have met. On behalf of all of us at Google and more broadly in technology, you will be missed very much. My condolences to family, friends, and colleagues at Apple."
Apple did not specify on the cause of Jobs' death, but his family released a statement saying that, "Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family."