We knew it was coming but that doesn’t make it easier. Horrendous.

We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

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.

Apple’s homepage tonight is a requiem for the departed. I’m straining to find a cultural analogy for Jobs and am struck by the fact that I have to leave the business/tech fields entirely to do it. You can do it if you go back far enough — Henry Ford and Edison pop to mind, but … that’s awfully far. The obvious modern comparison is to Bill Gates, but that doesn’t work. Gates, like Jobs, is capital-I Important to the computer age, but in sort of the same way that ancient cave painters were important to the development of art. Jobs started out as a cave painter too but kept at it until he turned into Rembrandt. I think Lileks is close to the mark in comparing him to Walt Disney; my first thought when I heard the news was that only Steven Spielberg’s passing today would hit quite as hard. The common thread among those three is that they all made magic, but Jobs put it in your hands so that you felt like you were the one making it. That’s the crucial difference between Apple and Microsoft — Gates made computers easier to use but Jobs made them objects of wonder. He made magic, literally. There’s no greater epitaph.

Here’s his commencement address at Stanford in 2005. I’ll leave you with a quote:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.