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Tech pioneer Steve Jobs dies aged 56

Apple salutes "visionary, creative genius".

Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs has passed away at the age of 56.

The hugely influential tech veteran had been battling a rare form of pancreatic cancer since 2004.

"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being," read a statement posted on Apple's website earlier today.

"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."

Among the myriad transformative tech innovations that came out of Apple during Job's leadership were the iMac, the iPod, the iPad and the iPhone, the latter of which has had an immeasurable impact on the games industry, spearheading the mobile gaming boom.

Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is among those already to have paid tribute, saying in a statement that he was "truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs's death".

"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. I will miss Steve immensely."

Though clearly in poor health during his last public appearance for Apple back in June when unveiling the company's iCloud initiative, Jobs kept on working until August, when he handed over his duties to incoming CEO Tim Cook.

"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. Unfortunately, that day has come," he said in a statement at the time.

He's survived by his wife Laurene and four children, one from a previous marriage. The company he built from the ground up is now the world's most valuable technology outfit, with an estimated market value of £227 billion.

The sad news comes barely 24 hours after Apple announced the next iteration of its smartphone phenomenon, the iPhone 4S.