Jobs' family released a statement tonight thanking everyone who had expressed concern about his health in the final year of his life.
"In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family," the statement said. "We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief."
One of the world's most famous CEOs, Jobs remained stubbornly private about his personal life, refusing interviews and shielding his wife and their children from public view.
"He's never been a media person," said industry analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, after Jobs resigned in August. "He's granted interviews in the context of product launches, when it benefits Apple, but you never see him talk about himself."
Apple said it was not planning any public events, though Cook's memo to Apple employees said the company was "planning a celebration of Steve's extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon."
At Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., tonight, people were hugging and crying. Candles were lit around an iPad with a picture of Jobs on the screen, and people quietly stood and looked at the memorial.
Apple fans also gathered at an Apple store in New York City, though a security guard said he was told to pick up any flowers and remove anything like a shrine.
"For all he did -- his inventions, the way he changed technology and communications -- I felt I was obligated, in a way, just to say, "Thank you.'" said David Del Toro, 37, of Miami.
The highlights of Jobs's career trajectory are well-known: a prodigy who dropped out of Reed College in Oregon and, at 21, started Apple with Wozniak in his parents' garage. He was a multimillionaire by 25, appeared on the cover of Time magazine at 26, and was ousted at Apple at age 30, in 1985.
In the years that followed, he went into other businesses, founding NeXT computers and, in 1986, buying the computer graphics arm of Lucasfilm, Ltd. -- which became Pixar Animation Studios and transformed the cartoon world with such films as "Toy Story" and "WALL-E."
He was described as an exacting and sometimes fearsome leader, ordering up and rejecting multiple versions of new products until the final version was just right. He said the design and aesthetics of a device were as important as the hardware and software inside.
In 1996, Apple, which had struggled without Jobs, brought him back by buying NeXT. He became CEO in 1997 and put the company on a remarkable upward path.
By 2001, the commercial music industry was on its knees because digital recordings, copied and shared online for free, made it unnecessary for millions of people to buy compact discs.
Jobs took advantage with the iPod -- essentially a pocket-sized computer hard drive with elegantly simple controls and a set of white earbuds so that one could listen to the hours of music one saved on it. He set up the iTunes online music store, and persuaded major recording labels to sell songs for 99 cents each. No longer did people have to go out and buy a CD if they liked just one song from it. They bought a digital file and stored it in their iPods.
"Other companies sold digital music before Apple," said Bill Werde, editorial director of Billboard magazine. "Other companies made digital music available on computers and digital phones and used it in commercials. Apple's brilliance -- and I don't think anyone doubts that this was Steve Jobs' brilliance -- was that Apple made it exciting and simple and effortless and fun. Before Steve Jobs, digital music was math class. After, it was recess."
Jobs did not rest. In 2007, he transformed the cellphone. Apple's iPhone, with its iconic touch screen, was a handheld computer, music player, messaging device, digital wallet and -- almost incidentally -- telephone. Major competitors, such as BlackBerry, Nokia and Motorola, struggled after it appeared.
By 2010, Apple's new iPad began to cannibalize its original business, the personal computer. The iPad was a sleek tablet computer with a touch screen and almost no physical buttons. It could be used for almost anything software designers could conceive, from watching movies to taking pictures to leafing through a virtual book.