Apple announced late on Wednesday (5) that the Silicon Valley visionary, Apple co-founder and Pixar chief finally lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Jobs’ radical creative thinking and famously demanding personality drove Apple to revolutionise personal computing, telephony, music and modern media – in short, he changed the lives of countless millions of people and altered forever the way they interact with technology.

Pixar Animation Studios has had a similarly weighty impact on the world of animation, drastically raising the bar on the art form, generating huge box office results and dominating the Oscars for much of the past decade.

Apple’s board of directors issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon: “We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today. Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve. His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.”

Jobs revealed he had pancreatic cancer in 2004 and over the ensuing years his increasingly gaunt appearance fuelled speculation about his health and occasionally played havoc with Apple’s share price. He took medical leave in January and on Aug 24 announced he was stepping down as CEO after more than 13 years at the helm to become chairman of the board.

Tuesday’s (4) unveiling of the iPhone 4S at the company’s Cupertino headquarters by new CEO Tim Cook must have been a strange sight for shareholders used to seeing Jobs pacing the stage in his trademark black turtleneck.

Jobs was born on Feb 24, 1955, and lived with his adopted parents in Cupertino, California. He dropped out of college but returned to take a course in calligraphy. After an early job designing video games for Atari he travelled across India and experimented with acid.

He launched Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976 only to be forced out of the company ten years later. He bought Pixar from George Lucas (and would play an integral role in the $7.4bn sale to Disney in 2006) and returned to lead Apple in 1996.

In the last ten years Jobs drove the company to create a string of extraordinary inventions: the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, the App Store and most recently the iPad. Indeed Apple’s value climbed so high that in the summer it emerged that its $76bn cash reserves briefly outstripped that of the US Treasury by around $2bn.

In a statement Walt Disney Company president and CEO Bob Iger said: “Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted advisor. 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.

Motion Picture Association Of America chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said: “The genius of Steve Jobs, a man I’ve known for 40 years, not only brought to life the visual magic and brilliant storytelling of Pixar, but brought the world one of the most innovative and successful platforms to make movies and TV available online at the click of a mouse. He was a pioneer, and helped all of us better understand how technologists and creators can work together to enrich and enliven our shared world. If anyone ever wonders whether one person can make a difference, the answer is Steve Jobs. He will be deeply, deeply missed.” 

The first authorised biography will be released in November by Simon & Schuster.

Jobs is survived by his wife Laurene and four children.