The best-known theoretical physicist of his time, Professor Hawking wrote so lucidly of the mysteries of space, time and black holes that his book, "A Brief History of Time", became an global bestseller, making him one of science's biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein.
Hawking's early struggles with scholarship, love and a devastating diagnosis was chronicled in the award-winning 2014 biopic, "The Theory of Everything".
Born on January 8, 1942 - 300 years to the day after the death of the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei - he believed science was his destiny. Remarkably, Hawking defied predictions he would only live for a few years, overcoming its debilitating effects on his mobility and speech that left him paralysed and able to communicate only via a computer speech synthesiser.
Hawking was diagnosed at age 21 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).More news: Gov. Murphy introduces 2019 budget in State House address
Besides books, scholarships and lectures, Hawking has made guest appearances in live action and cartoon TV shows such as "The Simpsons, " "Futurama", "The Big Bang Theory" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation". Hawking, he added, "really is at the extreme end of the scale when it comes to survival".
He leaves behind a wife, Lucy, and two sons, Robert and Tim.
Jane cared for Hawking for 20 years, until a grant from the United States paid for the 24-hour care he required.
His base of operations was Cambridge University in Britain, but he traveled widely around the world.More news: Sonia Gandhi hosts dinner for 17 Opposition leaders at 10 Janpath
He was a Lucasian Professor at the university from 1979 to 2009, a position previously held by Isaac Newton in 1663.
Conversing with Hawking was an interesting experience, often Easther and other physicists would be talking shop and Hawking would chime in on something that had been said a minute or so ago, "ping-ponging" the conversation back. Writing in her autobiographical "Music to Move the Stars", she said the strain of caring for Hawking for almost three decades had left her feeling like "a brittle, empty shell". Hawking and Mason separated in 2006. After a tracheostomy in 1985, Hawking lost the ability to speak.
In the book he related how he was first diagnosed: "I felt it was very unfair - why should this happen to me", he wrote.
Then, grinning widely, he added, "I seem to manage to do anything that I really want".More news: Suspect in SUNY Binghamton nursing student murder was 'obsessed' with her