In an error that could have cost Apple investors millions of dollars the Bloomberg financial newswire accidentally published a 17-page obituary of Apple CEO Steve Jobs yesterday.
Media gossip blog Gawker.com has the full Steve Jobs obituary, recently updated.
It is common media practice to keep obituaries of the famous on file even when they are healthy, so that the obituary can be published at a moment's notice when the sad event occurs. Former UK music magazine Melody Maker famously had an obituary of Rolling Stone Keith Richards ready and frequently updated since the late 1960s.
The Associated Press has over 1,000 prepared obituaries in its files on a wide variety of public figures, including 26-year-old Britney Spears. The Los Angeles Times has 400.
On hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal author Mark Twain commented "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated".
British folk/rock violinist Dave Swarbrick was killed off mistakenly by The Daily Telegraph in 1999 when they reported that his visit to hospital in Coventry had resulted in his death. On reading of his own death quipped: "It's not the first time I have died in Coventry".
Apple's stock trading on the Nasdaq plunged nearly two per cent when rumours of his ill-health surfaced when people started reporting about his gaunt appearance at the launch of the iPhone 3G. Jobs made a remarkable recovery from pancreatic cancer in 2004.
The New York Times has even cited one analyst saying that were Jobs to leave Apple unexpectedly, the company's stock would likely plunge 25 per cent, because he is such a huge part of the company he co-founded.
"No one wants to die," Jobs told an audience at Stanford University in 2005. "And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."