Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs Passes Away at 56 [Updated]

Apple announced on Wednesday that company co-founder Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56. Mr. Jobs was a driving force in the revitalizing the company during the 1990’s, and was instrumental in changing the computer and entertainment industries.

Apple updated its Web site Wednesday evening with a tribute to Mr. Jobs stating:

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.

Mr. Jobs helped found Apple in 1976 along with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. Together they changed the PC industry with the Apple I which was sold as a kit computer, and then with the Apple II as the first mainstream PC. The Apple II series sold for over 10 years and proved popular with home users, schools and businesses.

Steve Jobs passes away at 56Building on the success of the Apple II line, Mr. Jobs assembled a team that started work on what would eventually become the Macintosh. The Mac evolved over the years to include a long line of desktop computers, laptop computers, and the iconic iMac. The company still sells the iMac, and is seeing success with its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptop lineup.

Mr. Jobs was also part of the team that gave consumers the iPod, which ultimately changed the face of the music industry. The success of the iPod also included the iTunes Music Store — now the iTunes Store — and easy to purchase songs, TV shows and movies.

Following the success of the iPod, Mr. Jobs helped guide Apple to the successful launch of the iPhone and iPod touch. The iPhone revolutionized the smartphone market by offering customers an easy to use interface in a stylish form factor that other smartphone makers have been working to copy.

The success of the iPhone progressed to the introduction of the iPad, yet again changing how consumers and electronics manufacturers looked at tablet computers.

Mr. Jobs’s success at Apple, however, wasn’t always assured. He was run out of the company he helped bring to life in 1985 following internal company turmoil, leaving John Scully as CEO. During Mr. Scully’s tenure, Apple’s seemed to lose its focus, but continued to be popular with devout Mac fans.

After leaving Apple, Mr. Jobs founded NeXT Computer, and began selling high-end workstations and a custom operating system based on UNIX. That OS eventually led to Apple buying NeXT and bringing Mr. Job’s back into the fold in 1997. NeXT transformed into Mac OS X and became the foundation for the future of the Mac.

Mr. Jobs also purchased the movie production company Pixar from George Lucas during his time away from Apple. He transformed the company into a computer-generated movie powerhouse that produced popular movies such as Toy Story, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo.

Disney bought Pixar in 2006, and added Mr. Jobs to its Board of Directors where he was also the single largest shareholder.

Mr. Jobs recently retired as company CEO and took on the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. He had been on an extended leave of absence because of poor health.

Mr. Jobs was seen as a visionary in the technology world and will be greatly missed.

[This article has been updated with additional details about Mr. Jobs’s life.]