"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
Steve Jobs, the Apple founder and CEO who died today after a long battle with illness, said those words in 2005 after beating back an unusual form of pancreatic cancer. He was 56.
He went on to help Apple launch a series of groundbreaking products which revolutionised the computer and digital communication industries.
Jobs, considered by some to be the Leonardo da Vinci of his age, was renowned for his fierce determination.
He was the mastermind behind Apple, the company he founded only to be forced out and then return to rebuild into a dominant force via a string of hugely popular products - the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac and iTunes.
In recent years he mixed huge business success with personal turmoil, including surviving a liver transplant in 2009.
Today the plaudits flowed, with Jobs being compared to the great American entrepreneurs Henry Ford and Walt Disney.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, at times a partner and fierce competitor, said the world rarely saw someone who had such a "profound impact" 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."
Apple's board of directors said they were "deeply saddened" to announce Jobs' death.
"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.
"His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts."
Most mere mortals cannot understand a person like Steve Jobs," said bestselling author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple employee, in a recent interview. He considers Jobs "the greatest CEO in the history of man", adding that he just had "a different operating system."
Charismatic, visionary, ruthless, perfectionist, dictator - these are some of the words that people have used to describe Jobs, who may have been the biggest dreamer the technology world has ever known, but also was a hard-edged businessman and negotiator through and through.
"Steve was the best of the best. Like Mozart and Picasso, he may never be equalled," said Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and co-founder of Netscape Communications.
Barack Obama and Robert Iger, president and chief executive, of Walt Disney joined those lauding Jobs.
"There may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented," Obama said.
"Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted adviser," Iger said.
"Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started. With his passing the world has lost a rare original, Disney has lost a member of our family, and I have lost a great friend."
New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, " tonight America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein, and whose ideas will shape the world for generations to come.
"Again and again over the last four decades, Steve Jobs saw the future and brought it to life long before most people could even see the horizon."
Jobs formed Apple in 1976 and, with his childhood friend Steve Wozniak, marketed what was considered the world's first personal computer, the Apple II.
Shortly after learning of Jobs' death, Wozniak told ABC News, "I'm shocked and disturbed."
Rumours of Jobs' worsening health had circulated for weeks following Jobs' resignation from Apple in August.
At that time he was straight to the point: "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."
Today, the homepage of Apple's website switched to a full-page image of Jobs with the text, "Steve Jobs 1955-2011."
Clicking on the image revealed the text: "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being.
"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."
In 2005, two years before launching the iPhone, Jobs bluntly revealed what was driving him.
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life," Jobs said during a Stanford commencement ceremony.
"Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."
* Apple created a tribute site http://www.apple.com/stevejobs/ to the founder. They have encouraged fans to leave messages, thoughts, memories, and condolences on the site.
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