The heart and soul of Apple Computers, Steve Jobs is dead, Apple employees were told by email yesterday, ahead of a public statement appearing on the company’s website.

The co-founder of one of the world’s iconic brand names had a rare form of pancreatic cancer, according to Apple, who released the news late Wednesday.The death of Steve Jobs, who stepped down as Apple chief exec earlier this year, sparking serious rumours and concern over his health, had been treated more than once for pancreatic cancer.

The death of Steve Jobs means we’ve lost a great innovator!

In 2009 he received a liver transplant, and was forced to take a leave of absence in January this year, putting Tim Cook in charge while he was away. Following the death of Steve Jobs, Cook is now Apple’s CEO.And Jobs, whose legacy will surely for setting the post-PC agenda, with the design of innovative new products like , and most recently , will be sorely missed around the world.The news came in the early hours of Thursday (UK time) with the statement on Apple’s website, which said the company was ‘deeply saddened‘ but that the world was ‘immeasurably better thanks to the innovations that have enriched all our lives‘.That the company has been prepared for this event for some time is obvious, and it was notable that the former CEO was absent from Apple’s launch of the new iPhone 4S earlier this week. That certainly began the rumour mill turning, but the news that Steve Jobs is dead still comes as a real shock to the industry.His successor, new boss Tim Cook, who only yesterday presented the launch of , will now need to steer the company through tough times in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death.From a business point of view, the new man has nothing like the charisma of his predecessor, and Cook has his work cut out, to maintain Apple’s dominance of the high end, must-have gadget sector – although the company is thought to already have several new surprises in store over the next couple of years.To insiders the news was not totally unexpected, but it still comes as a terrble shock to the industry.

Our thoughts on the death of Steve Jobs

He changed the music industry, the computer industry, the phone industry and most recently he redefined mobile computing with the iPad. The man is legend and will be sorely missed.A tribute page to the life of Steve Jobs has been set up on the Apple homepage – Widgets