Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and the father of the iPhone, Mac and iPad, passed away Wednesday at the age of 56.

The man who forged Apple into a powerhouse and shaped how people listen to music and how they use computers died peacefully surrounded by his family.

Jobs's storied career took a remarkable series of twists and turns, from a meteoric rise in the late 1970s to his corporate ouster from his company in the mid-1980s, followed more than a decade later by his ascent as a tech guru.

Described by some as arrogant, temperamental and brutally honest about employee performance, Jobs was known and respected for his business acumen and an almost mystical ability to predict where tech trends were headed and what people wanted.

In the wake of his death, colleagues, competitors and world leaders have paid tribute to the technology visionary.


Steve Wozniak started Apple in a Silicon Valley garage with Steve Jobs in 1976. (Hermann J. Knippertz/Associated Press)

Steve Wozniak, Apple Corp. co-founder

"The way I see it … the way people love products he put so much into creating means he brought a lot of life to the world."

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, in an email to employees

"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."

John Lasseter, chief creative officer, and Ed Catmull, president, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

"He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply ‘make it great.’"


Microsoft founder Bill Gates called it an honour to have known Steve Jobs. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)

Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder

"Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. 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. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honour."

Filmmaker George Lucas, best known for creating the Star Wars franchise

"The magic of Steve was that while others simply accepted the status quo, he saw the true potential in everything he touched and never compromised on that vision. He leaves behind an incredible family and a legacy that will continue to speak to people for years to come."

Howard Stringer, Sony Corp. CEO

"The digital age has lost its leading light, but Steve's innovation and creativity will inspire dreamers and thinkers for generations.

Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, Research In Motion Ltd.  co-CEOs 

"Steve Jobs was a great visionary and a respected competitor."

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. CEO

"Today, we lost one of the most influential thinkers, creators and entrepreneurs of all time. Steve Jobs was simply the greatest CEO of his generation. While I am deeply saddened by his passing, I'm reminded of the stunning impact he had in revolutionizing the way people consume media and entertainment. My heart goes out to his family and to everyone who had the opportunity to work beside him in bringing his many visions to life."

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder

"Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you. "

Bob Iger, Walt Disney Co. CEO

"Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted adviser. His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built. It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined. Steve was such an 'original,' with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era. Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started."

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape

"Steve was the best of the best. Like Mozart and Picasso, he may never be equalled."

Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder

"We've lost a unique tech pioneer and auteur who knew how to make amazingly great products. Steve fought a long battle against tough odds in a very brave way. He kept doing amazing things in the face of all that adversity. As someone who has had his own medical challenges, I couldn't help but be encouraged by how he persevered."


Dell Inc. chairman and CEO Michael Dell says he has lost a friend with the passing of Steve Jobs. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Michael Dell, Dell Inc. CEO

"Today the world lost a visionary leader, the technology industry lost an iconic legend and I lost a friend and fellow founder. The legacy of Steve Jobs will be remembered for generations to come."

Apple's key products

1977: Apple II computer

1984: Macintosh computer

1998: iMac computer

2001: iPod 

2003: iTunes store

2007: iPhone

2008: App store

2010: iPad

Larry Page, Google, CEO

"He was a great man with incredible achievements and amazing brilliance. He always seemed to be able to say in very few words what you actually should have been thinking before you thought it. His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me."

U.S. President Barack Obama

"Steve was among the greatest of American innovators — brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it."

Arthur Sulzberger, New York Times chairman

"Steve Jobs was a visionary and a wonderful friend of The New York Times. He pushed the boundaries of how all providers of news and information interact with our users. I am among the many who deeply regret his passing."

Nadir Mohamed, Rogers Communications CEO

"He revolutionized how we consume entertainment, access information and stay in touch by making iconic devices that are brilliantly designed, intuitive and easy to use. He had a clear vision for what technology should deliver to consumers and his focus on the customer was relentless. He will be sorely missed."

Tony Clement, Canada's industry minister (via Twitter)

"Listening to my iTunes on my MacBook Pro, typing goodbye to Steve Jobs on an iPhone...#RIPSteveJobs"

David Cameron, U.K. prime minister

"I certainly remember the first time I used an Apple computer, the first time I used an iPad. I mean he has been inspirational."

With files from The Associated Press