Steve Jobs, visionary head of Apple, has died

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Dec 15, 2012, 11:18 AM EST

Steve Jobs, who revolutionized communications, music, movies and computers, has died at the age of 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Apple announced Jobs' passing late this afternoon at its website, just six weeks after Jobs stepped down as CEO of the company due to his health. He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004, took a leave of absence in 2009 and underwent a liver transplant, then took a final leave of absence last January before stepping down for good this summer.

Disney President Robert Iger issued a statement saying that Jobs' legacy will "extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built," while Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Jim Gianopulos said, "Steve's genius transformed the way we work, play, live and think."

Jobs' impact on modern technology and culture is undeniable, with some calling him this age's Thomas Edison. Launching Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and two other partners, then building their first computer, the Apple 1, in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, Jobs helped define and solidify the concept of the personal computer, as well as the use of a mouse to click on graphic images on a screen to operate such devices.

The company became famous for the Apple II and later, of course, the Macintosh computer, which we all know now simply as the Mac. Jobs himself, however, was ousted in 1986 from his own firm after an executive power struggle. But by 1997 he was back at Apple—purchasing a little animation studio called Pixar from George Lucas in the meantime—and four years later, in 2001, he introduced the first iPod to the world.

Starting with that little device—which has arguably changed forever the way people listen to music and even watch movies—Jobs and Apple began a decade-long run of products that included the iTunes digital music store, the iPhone, the Apps Store and finally, the iPad.

At the same time, Pixar revolutionized film animation and brought it into the digital era, creating one animated masterpiece after another with movies like Toy Story and its sequels, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E and many more.

It's no exaggeration to say that Jobs made science fiction a reality with the sleek, compact, ultra-efficient and easy-to-use devices his company created, while improving, enhancing and digitizing the way we communicate and consume entertainment. And the movies made at Pixar under his watch include not only some authentic sci-fi gems like The Incredibles and Wall-E, but a string of beloved, humanist classics that adults and children will enjoy for generations to come.

Jobs was driven in his work, and in a famous speech at Stanford in 2005—when he already knew that he was sick and that his days could be numbered—he told graduates there, "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

Steve Jobs loved what he did, and millions of us loved it too, and will for years to come.

(via CNN)