Steve Jobs Death: What Did He Die From?

Read on to discover Steve Jobs’s death, life, and the truth behind his last words.
Steve Jobs wearing a black shirt while presenting a new product launch on stageGetty

In the world of computers and consumer electronics, few people have been as influential as the late Steve Jobs. A technology and design visionary, he changed the way we interact with our devices and ushered in a new era of design whose influence can be seen not only in the brand that he left behind, but also in its many copycats and competitors.

One can only wonder at what kind of world we’d be living in if he were still in it. Sadly, Steve passed away too young, having suffered through a lengthy illness that could have turned out differently had he chosen to pursue the right treatment. In this article, we take a look at Steve Jobs’ death, how he handled his illness, and reveal his dying words.

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Who Is Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs is a tech mogul and entrepreneur who is best known for being one of the co-founders of Apple Inc, formerly Apple Computers. 

Born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955, Steve grew up in Mountain View, California. He was an electronics whiz as a child, and was friends with engineers who lived nearby. He went to Homestead High, where he’d meet Steve Wozniak through a classmate. He and the other Steve worked at HP over the summer, becoming friends. He then went to Reed College for a year before dropping out and working at Atari. Then, he began a fascinating spiritual journey that practically deserves its own article. 

In 1974, he travelled to India with a schoolmate from Reed to visit the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, only to find that he’d died the previous year. Nevertheless, Steve remained for seven months, and when he returned to the US, he was a changed man. He began experimenting with LSD and other drugs, adopted Zen Buddhism, and even became part of the All One Farm, a hippie commune.

This journey would seem to suggest a very different career path for Steve, but he would eventually return to Atari where he reunited with Wozniak. In 1976, the two founded Apple Computer, and in 1977 they introduced the Apple II, changing the world of personal computers forever.

Steve Jobs leaning on the Apple II Computer
(Credit: Getty)

Steve and Apple would go on to develop and release the Macintosh in 1984, which the company designed based on the legendary Xerox Palo Alto Research Center’s mouse and keyboard interface. Steve himself went onstage on January 24 during Apple’s annual shareholders’ meeting to reveal and demo the Macintosh in one of his most iconic appearances.

Steve left Apple in 1985 after being forced out of power by Apple CEO John Sculley. Between then and 1997, he went mostly under the radar, founding a company called NeXT and becoming the top financier and CEO of Pixar.

In 1997, Steve returned to Apple, now a floundering business deeply in debt and ready to go bankrupt, this time as CEO. His tenure between 1997 and 2011 transformed Apple into one of the most valuable companies in the world, with a combination of innovation and powerful marketing that led to industry-defining products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and Mac OS.

How Did Steve Jobs Die?

On October 5, 2011, Steve ended his long battle with cancer and passed away surrounded by family. He was 56 years of age. He left behind his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, and their three children, Reed, Erin, and Eve. He also has a fourth daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, whom he had with Chrisann Brennan, his high school sweetheart.

What Did Steve Jobs Die From?

Steve died from pancreatic cancer, specifically a rare form known as neuroendocrine tumour or islet cell carcinoma, which represents about 1-2% of significant pancreatic tumours. Pancreatic cancer typically has a very low five-year survival rate and poor options for treatment, but Steve’s form of cancer is actually highly treatable.

What Treatment Options Did Steve Jobs Take?

With many cancers, the earlier treatment begins, the better the chances of survival. However, after Steve’s tumours were discovered in 2003, he delayed surgery and medical treatment for nine months while he explored alternative treatments such as acupuncture, a vegan diet, herbs, and cleansing juices. Steve later told his biographer that he regretted the decision to delay medical treatment. By the time he finally had surgery in 2004, the cancer had spread to his liver.

In 2009, Steve underwent a liver transplant and reportedly improved after the surgery. Unfortunately, the cancer relapsed, with him looking progressively paler and more gaunt leading to this last photo of him in public at WWDC 2011.

Steve Jobs wearing a black shirt while presenting a new product launch on stage
(Credit: Getty)

Eventually he would pass away due to complications from the relapse.

Some cancer experts believe that Steve would still be alive today had he not delayed treatment. 

What Were Steve’s Final Words?

After Steve’s death, The New York Times published a eulogy delivered by Mona Simpson, Steve’s sister. In her eulogy, Mona described Steve Jobs’ last words on his deathbed as, “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”

Four years later, in 2015, an essay that purported to be Steve Jobs’ last speech began circulating. It was billed as a warning that “non-stop pursuit of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like [him]”

Snopes reported that the essay has not been published by any official sources close to Jobs, and has never been verified to actually have been written by Steve. The essay itself hardly matches Steve’s own manner of speech or writing, and it has mutated over the years with several additions or changes as it spread.


Steve was a controversial figure. Famously difficult to work with and generally considered to be a jerk, he wasn’t exactly the kind of person you’d want to be friends with, and may even be an example of Never meet your heroesfor Apple fans. But there’s no denying the impact he’s had on the tech world, and for that we honour his contributions to society, eight years after his death.

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