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Apple announced on Wednesday afternoon that co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs has died.
"Apple has lost a visionary and a creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being," said a terse but emotional post on Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) website.
"Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives," the company said in a statement to the financial community.
Jobs, who was 56, has been ill on and off over the past several years. He formally resigned as CEO on August 24.
"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come," Jobs said in a letter to Apple's board and the Apple "community" at that time.
Until his resignation, Jobs had been on temporary leave from his role as CEO since early January for undisclosed reasons. He also took a leave in 2009 for a liver transplant.
That leave followed an earlier medical leave which Jobs took in 2004 in order to deal with pancreatic cancer.
Besides being co-founder of the company, Jobs is widely credited with bringing the graphical user interface to the commercial computing world in the form of the Mac in the 1980s. After he was forced out of the company that he co-founded, again in the mid-1980s, he later returned to the company and is credited with saving the company, which had fallen on hard times.
Since then, Jobs has presided over a veritable golden age at the company, launching the return of the Mac as well as the introduction of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad as well as introducing iTunes and the Apple store. Jobs recently unveiled a new campus that will likely be seen as a large part of his legacy.
The company just launched the latest version of its breakthrough smartphone, the iPhone 4S, on Tuesday, and while there had been rumors Jobs might attend, he wasn't to be seen.
"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," Microsoft chairman and former CEO Bill Gates said in a statement to the The New York Times. "For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.”