CUPERTINO, Calif. — Steve Jobs, the Apple founder and former CEO who invented and masterfully marketed ever-sleeker gadgets that transformed everyday technology, from the personal computer to the iPod and iPhone, died Wednesday. He was 56.
Apple announced his death without giving a specific cause. He died peacefully, according to a statement from family members.
"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"
Mr. 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 — and officially resigned in August. Mr. Jobs became Apple's chairman and handed the CEO job over to his hand-picked successor, Tim Cook.
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 Mr. Jobs was running the company.
Mr. Jobs started Apple with Steve Wozniak, a high school friend, in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976. He 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.
Cultivating Apple's countercultural sensibility and a minimalist design ethic, Mr. Jobs rolled out one sensational product after another, even in the face of the late-2000s recession and his own failing health.
When he spoke at Apple presentations, almost always in faded blue jeans, sneakers and a black mock turtleneck, legions of Apple acolytes listened to every word. He often boasted about Apple successes, then coyly added a coda — "One more thing" — before introducing its latest ambitious idea.
In later years, Apple investors also watched these appearances for clues about his health. Mr. Jobs revealed in 2004 that he had been diagnosed with a very rare form of pancreatic cancer — an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor. He underwent surgery and said he had been cured. In 2009, following weight loss he initially attributed to a hormonal imbalance, he abruptly took a six-month leave. During that time, he received a liver transplant that became public two months after it was performed.
He went on another medical leave in January 2011, this time for an unspecified duration. He never went back and resigned as CEO in August, though he stayed on as chairman. Consistent with his penchant for secrecy, he didn't reference his illness in his resignation letter.
Steven Paul Jobs was born Feb. 24, 1955, to Joanne Simpson, an unmarried graduate student, and Abdulfattah Jandali, a student from Syria. Simpson gave him up for adoption, though she married Jandali and a few years later had a second child with him, Mona Simpson, who became a novelist. Steven was adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs.
Mr. Jobs valued his privacy, but some details of his romantic and family life have been uncovered. In 1989, he spoke at Stanford's graduate business school and met his wife, Laurene Powell, who was then a student.
In 2005, after the bout with cancer, Mr. Jobs delivered Stanford University's commencement speech.
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life," he said. "Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."
Mr. Jobs is survived by his biological mother; sister Mona Simpson; Lisa Brennan-Jobs, his daughter born to longtime girlfriend Chrisann Brennan in 1978; wife Laurene, and their three children, Erin, Reed and Eve.