By Sonja Sharp and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN — New Yorkers mourned Apple founder Steve Jobs Wednesday night, after news broke that the creative force behind the computer company's comeback died at 56 following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
"This is awful. I was just thinking about him yesterday and thinking if he was alright," said Jay Bodin, of Hamilton Heights, who had gone to the Apple Store in SoHo for a demonstration Wednesday night. "I think he's such an inspirational figure.
"I’ve had a Mac since 1991, so I feel a certain connection with the company in a somewhat sentimental way because it was my first computer."
The Apple website was changed to a simple, gray-scale image of Jobs in his trademark black turtleneck, saying "Steve Jobs: 1955-2011."
"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being," Apple said on the site.
"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."
Jobs, who founded Apple in 1976 along with Stephen Wozniak, helped spark a revolution in home computing with the company's user-friendly products and cutting edge graphics. Apple first gain Wall Street's attention with the invention of the Apple II and later the popular Macintosh computers.
After leaving the company in 1985 for 12 years, he came back in the late 1990s and helped foster Apple's comeback with a string of innovations including the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.
“America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein, and whose ideas will shape the world for generations to come. Again and again over the last four decades, Steve Jobs saw the future and brought it to life long before most people could even see the horizon," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement.
Jobs had a hand in the success in two other companies during his split from Apple. He bought a the digital animation studio Pixar from George Lucas for $10 million in 1986. Pixar became a critical and financial darling after the release of the movie Toy Story in 1995. Jobs later sold Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion in 2006.
"Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family," John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, said. "He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined."
Jobs founded the computer company NeXT for $7 million in 1986 after leaving Apple. NeXT manufactured computer workstations target for higher education. The company's sales were poor, but its innovative operating system became a valuable commodity. Jobs sold NeXT to Apple for $423 million in 1996 and the operating system became the foundation of the current Mac OS X system.
Jobs returned to Apple as a consultant in 1996 before ascending back as the company's CEO again in 2000, one year before the introduction of the iPod. The iPod's revolutionized the way consumers listened to music and paved the way for the release of the popular iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010). Apple has sold over 300 million iPods since its 2001 release.
Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and received a liver transplant in April 2009. Jobs announced his resignation as Apple's CEO on August 24, 2011.
"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Jobs said in his resignation letter. "Unfortunately, that day has come."
New Apple CEO Tim Cook was the keynote speaker at the company's iPhone 4S event in California on Tuesday, just a day before Jobs death. The announcement marked the first time Cook introduced a new product after Jobs resigned in August.
"Steve’s passionate belief in the power of technology to transform the way we live brought us more than smart phones and iPads: it brought knowledge and power that is reshaping the face of civilization," Bloomberg said.