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Steve Jobs, Tech Visionary, Passes Away

NEW YORK, ( TheStreet) -- Steve Jobs, the gadget guru who led Apple (AAPL - Get Report), transformed movie animation and introduced the Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad tablet died Wednesday at the age of 56.

A Silicon Valley native who dropped out of college to follow his interest in technology and hone an uncanny talent for aesthetics, Jobs became known as an uncompromising visionary who led Apple to be the highest valued company in the world.

Steve Jobs

Jobs was the defining influence on Apple's rise, fall and phoenix-like rebirth. Known for his black mock-turtleneck and his "one more thing" on-stage product introductions, Jobs became the personality, the pitchman and the prophet for his company.

"Jobs and his team have made Apple the primal force in shaping consumers' technology-driven 'way of life,'" wrote JPMorgan analyst Mark Moskowitz in a recent research note.

Though Jobs' health had been an overriding public concern in recent years, the last decade of his life was an astonishingly productive and successful period for Apple. The stock rose 4,300% over the past 10 years as Apple sold millions of iconic new devices, and more than a 10 billion downloads on iTunes.

But time ran out for Jobs.

In his resignation letter in August, Jobs said " that day has come" and handed the CEO job to his operations chief Tim Cook. The move came during his third medical leave since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004.

Apple and Jobs treated his health issues as a private matter. Jobs didn't go public with his cancer diagnosis until 2005 when he revealed the lessons of that story in a speech to Stanford graduates.

"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," Jobs said during his speech.

Steven Paul Jobs, 56, was born on Feb. 24, 1955 in San Francisco. The child of two grad students, Joanne Schieble and a Syrian named Abdulfattah Jandali, he was adopted as an infant by Paul and Clara Jobs. He was raised in Cupertino, Calif., where he based Apple.

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