Steve Jobs pioneered the personal computer industry  and created such products as iTunes, iPads and iPhones.

Steve Jobs pioneered the personal computer industry and created such products as iTunes, iPads and iPhones.

Steve Jobs, who helped launch the computer revolution with his innovative, offbeat Apple Macintosh computers and later extended that revolution to phones and music, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

His passing comes after a long illness that included a liver transplant. He led his company through a rebirth after it was cornered with a small slice of the computer market by rival Microsoft.

In June, Apple’s market value exceed both Microsoft and Intel combined. Apple was valued at $317.6 billion compared with Microsoft’s market cap of $201.59 billion and Intel’s value of $115.21 billion, for a total $316.8 billion.

In September, Apple’s market value of $371 billion exceeded Exxon Mobil’s $362 billion valuation by almost $10 billion, making it the world’s most valuable company.

Jobs finally handed over the reins of his company on August 24, citing medical reasons. The company announced his death this evening (Oct. 5).

It all began in the late 1970s. Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and others developed and marketed one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series.

In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of Xerox PARC’s mouse-driven graphical user interface, which led to the creation of the Macintosh and gave birth to the ubiquitous computer mouse.

At the same time, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, both skilled computer programmers, came up with their own revolutionary project, the DOS computer disc operating system, which later yielded the company’s Windows computer software.

Unlike Jobs, Gates and Allen left the computer building to others. Instead they licensed their operating system and Windows soon came to dominate the computer market.

But Apple doggedly held on through a period of turmoil that saw Jobs leave the company in a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985.

Jobs founded his own computer company called NeXT, specializing in business and education markets. It was a time when Apple languished and some thought the company might eventually fade away.

But in 1996, the rift between Jobs and the company he founded was healed and he rejoined Apple as chief executive, a position he held until his health forced him to resign this year.

Jobs immediately began looking for ways to expand Apple’s brand and its unique approach to computer technology.

The introduction of the iPod portable music player, iTunes digital music software and the iTunes Store put the company at the forefront of the digital music revolution.

The iPod become a case study of destructive technological innovation and has helped cripple the music industry, which once dominated by selling high-priced CDs. Apple controls more than 70 percent of the digital music market.

Jobs took another innovation, emerging touch-screen technology, and launched the iPad tablet computer and the iPhone. Both dominate their markets.

He also extended his influence into movie making in 1986 when The Graphics Group (later renamed Pixar) from Lucasfilm’s computer graphics division for $10 million.

He partnered with Disney to produce a number of computer-animated feature films, including “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” and “Finding Nemo,” ultimately winning three Oscars for best animated feature.

He was known for his aggressive and demanding management style, and was once branded Silicon Valley’s biggest egomaniac.

Nonetheless, he won millions of fans and amassed a fortune said to exceed $8 billion.

In mid-2004, Jobs publicly revealed that he had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. Normally always fatal, Jobs’ cancer was a less aggressive version that gave him some hope of remission.

He kept his health condition largely confidential until his body, always thin, started looking painfully emaciated.

Speculation about his health began in earnest in 2006 after he appeared listless and tired at a MacWorld convention.

In April 2009, Jobs underwent a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tenn., an obvious sign that his cancer had spread to other organs.

He was a tireless advocate for innovation. He never hesitated to challenge the status quo and never lost his faith, drive or vision for advancing society through ground-breaking products.

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love,” he once said. “‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will.”