Steve, a First among equals

Passionate, prickly, and deemed irreplaceable by many Apple fans and investors, Steve Jobs made a life defying conventions and expectations.

page4.350.800And despite years of poor health, his death on Wednesday at the age of 56 prompted a global gasp as many people remembered how much he had done to transform the worlds of computing, music and mobile phones, changing the way people communicate and access information and entertainment.

"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," said Microsoft co-founder and long-time rival Bill Gates. "For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honour."

The founder of Apple died on Wednesday in Palo Alto, surrounded by his family. The circumstances of his passing were unclear, but Jobs has had a long battle with cancer and other health issues.

A college dropout, Jobs floated through India in search of spiritual guidance prior to founding Apple a name he suggested to his friend and co-founder Steve Wozniak after a visit to a commune in Oregon he referred to as an 'apple orchard'. With his passion for minimalist design and marketing genius, Jobs changed the course of personal computing during two stints at Apple and, then, brought a revolution to the mobile market.

The iconic iPod, the iPhone dubbed the 'Jesus phone' for its quasi-religious following and the iPad are the creation of a man who was known for his near-obsessive control of the product development process."Most mere mortals cannot understand a person like Steve Jobs," said bestselling author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple employee, in a recent interview. He considers Jobs "the greatest CEO in the history of man", adding that he just had "a different operating system".

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