Apple, Inc. founder Steve Jobs
Apple, Inc. founder Steve JobsIsrael news photo: courtesy of website

Last month, when Steve Jobs suddenly announced he was stepping down as CEO of the makers of the iPhone, the tech world was a-buzz, trying to figure out why.

Now we know.

Flags were flying at half-mast late Wednesday outside Apple's Cupertino headquarters after a statement released by the company announced the death of Apple's chairman.

Jobs, 56, lost his battle to cancer, dying peacefully according to family members who said they were present at his bedside.

Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” the board said in its statement. “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”

Posted on a special memorial page of the company's website Thursday was a statement that said: “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.”

It's not as if Jobs had kept the diagnosis a secret. But somehow, most people had managed to brush that knowledge aside like the unpleasant bit of news it was, hoping he would beat it.

But the liver transplant he underwent in 2009, after taking a leave of absence for unspecified health problems, didn't solve the problem. And in January of this year, Steve Jobs took another leave of absence, his third since receiving the diagnosis.

In August, Jobs threw in the towel, announcing finally that he was stepping down as CEO, and handing the job to his hand-picked heir apparent, Tim Cook. He would remain as chairman of the board, he said.

Jobs had left the company once before, in 1986, a decade after he started it up with a high school friend in a Silicon Valley garage. He returned to rescue his brainchild in 1997, and turned it into the most valuable hi-tech company in the world, boasting a market value of $351 billion, most of which was created in his second stint.

The announcement of his resignation this time around came only a day after the unveiling of the latest incarnation of the iPhone, sans the drama of a Super Presentation by Steve Jobs.

The company was clearly preoccupied by what was happening to its founder and guiding star, and the innovative iPhone 5 did not receive all the accolades that would normally have come along with its debut.

The company will have to scramble a bit now to reassert itself in the market -- and the creative tech world will have to learn to manage without Jobs.

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