"He was a visionary responsible for transforming the consumer electronics industry and ushered in a new era of digital innovation," writes technology columnist Shelly Palmer. "From the foundation he laid for one of the most successful companies ever to his ability to think outside the box, Steve Jobs will be missed, but not forgotten."
Allowing that his genius has been written about ad infinitum since he resigned as Apple's CEO in August and that he is "a historical figure on the scale of a Thomas Edison or Henry Ford," the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg also gives us a glance at the private Jobs he got to know after his 1997 return to the company he founded but left in a rift with the board.
Jobs cultivated the influential Mossberg, who couldn't help but be wooed by the force of his personality and showmanship even as he was very aware of it. Mossberg shares a few telling anecdotes, including one about getting Jobs and Microsoft founder Bill Gates to agree to appear together on the same stage for the newspaper's 'All Things Digital' conference in 2007.
The well-laid plans were almost blown up by a remark Jobs made in an on-stage, one-on-one interview by Mossberg before the joint session took place. Asked what it was like to have become a major Windows developer since iTunes program was installed on Windows PCs, Jobs replied: "It's like giving a glass of ice water to someone in hell."
Mossberg writes: "When Gates later arrived and heard about the comment, he was, naturally, enraged. In a pre-interview meeting, Gates said to Jobs "so I guess I'm the representative from hell."
"Jobs merely handed Gates a cold bottle of water. The tension was broken, and the interview was a triumph, with both men acting like statesmen. When it was over, the audience rose in a standing ovation, some of them in tears."
Steven Levy, who wrote Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything in 2000, has a piece on Wired.com. He has some inside tales, too, including the day he was walking down Broadway and received a call from "unknown" on the yet-to-be-released iPhone he had been given.
"It was Jobs, ostensibly wanting to know what I thought, but actually making sure I understood how amazing it was," Levy writes. "I acknowledged that it was extraordinary, but mentioned to him that maybe nothing could match the expectations he had generated. People were calling it the 'Jesus phone.' Didn't that worry him? The answer was no. 'We are going to blow away the expectations.'"
The Apple home page this morning is simply a full-page image of Jobs. The board of director's simple but elegant statement reads:
"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."
In a letter to staff, CEO Tim Cook writes, "We are planning a celebration of Steve's extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences in the interim, you can simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some other snippets from around the net:
"When employees first talked about Jobs' 'reality distortion field,' it was a pejorative -- they were referring to the way that he got you to sign on to a false truth by the force of his conviction and charisma...," writes Levy in his perceptive obit. He concludes: "Steve Job's reality field actually came into being. And we all live in it."