A raft of tributes to Steve Jobs has poured in from global figureheads and major IT industry figures, following news of the Apple founder’s death aged 56.

Jobs, who has been credited with a major technology innovations including the early Apple Macintosh computers to the game-changing iPod music player and iPad tablet, was today described by US president Barack Obama as being “among the greatest of American innovators”.

In recent months, Apple under Steve Jobs’ leadership reached the pinnacle of its impact on the business world, briefly overtaking Exxon Mobil to become America’s largest company. Before the turn of the millennium, Apple had been viewed as a niche player, specialising in computers often used in graphic design, rather than the all-encompassing consumer technology giant it is often seen as now.

Upon hearing the news of the death of Jobs, who resigned as chief executive of Apple in August, Microsoft's Bill Gates tweeted: "For those of us lucky enough to get to work with Steve, it's been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely."

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Jobs had shown “that what you build can change the world".  Sony Corp president and CEO Howard Stringer said: "The digital age has lost its leading light."

Computerworld UK sister title CIO reported today that John Lewis IT director Paul Coby said: "I can't remember ever feeling so impacted by a stranger's death. A great man."

Starbucks CIO Stephen Gillett was saddened and had posted on his personal blog recently about Apple and Jobs: "Your leadership has inspired those of us who lead technologists and drive business innovation."

Jardine Lloyd Thompson CIO Ian Cohen said he was "saddened to wake up the news of Jobs' death.”

Richard Holway, chairman at analyst house TechMarketView, wrote: “I’ve likened Jobs to my other hero – Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Both achieved greatness across many different things.

“Both were passionate workaholics. Both were sticklers for detail. Both died young. Both had, or in the case of Jobs will have, huge effects on our lives for many years, decades, centuries after their death.”

Macworld, another sister title to Computerworld UK, has set up a Cancer Research donations page on Just Giving for anyone who wants to do something good in memory of Steve Jobs.