Former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, the man widely credited with transforming the PC manufacturer into a household name, has died at the age of 56.
Jobs, who stepped down as Apple's chief executive in August due to ill health, passed away yesterday.
Under his stewardship, Apple has become a dominant player in the consumer electronics market in recent years, leading the pack with the iPod and iPhone.
The firm is also credited with popularising the tablet PC, with the launch of the iPad two years ago leading to a flurry of similar devices from rival vendors, none of which have been able to match the sales of its devices.
In a letter to employees, the firm's new chief executive Tim Cook paid tribute to Jobs. He lamented the fact the firm has "lost a visionary and creative genius".
"Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor," Cook wrote. "Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."
He goes on to say that the firm plans to honour its founder's memory by "continuing the work he loved so much".
In recent years, Jobs had battled pancreatic cancer, undergone a liver transplant and been dogged by various rumours about the state of his health, which resulted in him taking two periods of extended leave from the company.
The most recent was in January this year, leading him to hand over the reins of the company to Cook in the summer. This story prompted ChannelWeb to publish a blog looking back at his illustrious career.
Since the news of Jobs' passing broke earlier today, many channel onlookers have rushed to pay their respects.
Michael Dell, founder of rival PC manufacturer Dell, expressed his sadness about the news via Twitter, describing Jobs as an "iconic legend".
"Today the world lost a visionary leader, the technology industry lost an iconic legend and I lost a friend and fellow founder," wrote Dell. "The legacy of Steve Jobs will be remembered for generations to come. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to the Apple team."
Meg Whitman, chief executive of hardware giant HP, also tweeted: "Steve Jobs was an iconic entrepreneur. He will be remembered for innovation he brought to market and [the] inspiration he brought to the world."
Meanwhile, Richard Holway, chairman of analyst TechMarketView, said in a statement that he had been hit hard by news of Jobs' death.
"I've likened Jobs to my other hero – Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Both achieved greatness across many different things, both were passionate workaholics and both were sticklers for detail," explained Holway.
"Both died young, both had, or in the case of Jobs will have, huge effects on our lives for many years, decades, centuries after their death."
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