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Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs, 56, Dies

Major news sources are confirming that the mastermind behind Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod and iTunes has died at age 56. Steve Jobs, chairman and co-founder of Apple, passed away today after several years of failing health, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal. A statement from Jobs family reported that he “died peacefully today surrounded by his family…We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.”

Jobs first starting showing significant weight loss in mid-2008, and took close to six months off from work on medical leave the following year, undergoing a  liver transplant, according to the Wall Street Journal report.  In January, Jobs took another leave of absence with no explanation and then finally stepped down as chief executive in August, according to WSJ.com.

Apple.com currently has a photo memorializing Jobs on their homepage, along with this tribute: “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.”

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During his more than three decade-long career, Mr. Jobs transformed Silicon Valley as he helped turn the once sleepy expanse of fruit orchards into the technology industry’s innovation center. In addition to laying the groundwork for the modern high-tech industry alongside other pioneers like Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison. Mr. Jobs proved the appeal of well-designed intuitive products over the sheer power of technology itself and shifted the way consumers interact with technology in an increasingly digital world.

Unlike those men, however, the most productive chapter in Mr. Jobs’ career occurred near the end of his life, when a nearly unbroken string of innovative and wildly successful products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad fundamentally changed the PC, electronics and digital media industries. The way he marketed and sold those products through savvy advertising campaigns and its retail stores, in the meanwhile, helped turn the company into a pop culture icon.

At the beginning of that phase, Mr. Jobs once described his philosophy as trying to make products that were at “the intersection of art and technology.” In doing so, he turned Apple into the world’s most valuable company.