New York: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who single-handedly changed the way the world listened to music, communicated on the phone and used the computer, has died, leaving behind a vacuum that will be hard to fill.

56-year-old Jobs was a pancreatic survivor and had been battling poor health for several years. He was surrounded by his wife and immediate family when he died in Palo Alto, California.

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He died one day after Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, the gadget that transformed mobile communications.

In a brief statement, Apple's Board of Directors said "we are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away on Thursday."

"Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve."

The iconic technocrat was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant two years in 2009.

He had been on medical leave since January this year but had appeared briefly on a few occasions. In March, he unveiled the second version of the iPad and later attended a dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for technology honchos in Silicon Valley. In June, he was on stage in San Francisco to talk about iCloud, Apple's latest foray into cloud-based computing.

Jobs' health had been visibly deteriorating over the years, with the Apple chief looking more gaunt and frail with each successive appearance he made to launch various path breaking Apple products.

In a stunning move in August that had taken the technology world by surprise, Jobs had resigned as CEO of the technology giant and named Tim Cook as his successor.

In his letter to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple community, Jobs had said, "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."

Jobs continued as Chairman of the Board.

He was the highly-respected visionary behind some of Apple's most iconic and bestseller products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Under his leadership, Apple redefined the music business through the iPod, the mobile business through the iPhone and the entertainment and media world through the iPad.

In August, Apple had briefly surpassed energy major Exxon Mobil to become the country's most valuable company with a market capitalisation of about USD 346 billion.

Jobs' prolonged medical leave of absence had raised concerns of how the technology major, which he had co-founded in a garage, would succeed without Jobs.

"I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role. I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you," Jobs had said in his resignation.

Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and developed the Apple II and Macintosh computers. He left Apple in 1985 after a power struggle with the company's board of directors.

The following year he founded NeXt Computer, a computer platform development company specialising in the higher education and business markets. In 1986, he bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm and re-established it as the independent animation studio Pixar.

Apple subsequently bought NeXT in 1996, bringing Jobs back to the company he had co-founded. Jobs has served as its CEO since 1997.