Obama, friends, rivals, officials mourn Steve Jobs

The president, industry execs, and others express sadness at the death of a great tech leader, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

News of Jobs death and quotes from famous admirers flash in Times Square Wednesday night. Greg Sandoval/CNET

President Barack Obama, as well as executives, officials, and others who knew and admired Steve Jobs mourned the passing of the illustrious co-founder of Apple.

"Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs," President Obama said in a statement. "Steve was among the greatest of American innovators--brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it."

The president paid tribute to Jobs' creativity and inventiveness.

"By building one of the planet's most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity," the president said. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike."

The Los Angeles Times tracked down Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who said he was overwhelmed by media calls and was still sorting through his feelings. "People sometimes have goals in life," Wozniak told the Times. "Steve Jobs exceeded every goal he ever set for himself."

Jobs' passing also brought out a touching tribute from perhaps his most ardent rival.

"Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives," Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of longtime Apple competitor Microsoft, said in a statement.

"The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honor," Gates said. "I will miss Steve immensely."

Gates' wife, Melinda, wrote on Twitter: "Incredibly saddened to learn of the loss of Steve Jobs, a true innovator and a great man."

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also sent his condolences to the family and friends of Jobs. "We've lost a unique tech pioneer and auteur who knew how to make amazingly great products," he wrote in a tweet.

And Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said in a statement, "I want to express my deepest condolences at the passing of Steve Jobs, one of the founders of our industry and a true visionary. My heart goes out to his family, everyone at Apple and everyone who has been touched by his work."

Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet, wrote on Twitter: "Alas, Steve Jobs has died. May he rest in peace. What are we going to do now, without his insanely greatness?"

On his Facebook page, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote: "Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."

Google co-founder Larry Page said Jobs was kind to reach out to him when Page became CEO of Google and offer advice, even though he was ill. "I am very, very sad to hear the news about Steve. He was a great man with incredible achievements and amazing brilliance," Page wrote on Google+. "He always seemed to be able to say in very few words what you actually should have been thinking before you thought it. His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me."

Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote on Google+: "From the earliest days of Google, whenever Larry and I sought inspiration for vision and leadership, we needed to look no farther than Cupertino. Steve, your passion for excellence is felt by anyone who has ever touched an Apple product (including the macbook I am writing this on right now). And I have witnessed it in person the few times we have met."

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told public television's Charlie Rose that Apple, with recently named Chief Executive Tim Cook, would soldier on without Jobs. "Tim is a very capable executive. The gifts that Steve gave will continue for many years," Schmidt told Rose. "For all of you and us fans of Apple products, they will continue to come and do very well."

And Google added a subtle tribute to Jobs on www.google.com, simply noting below the search bar, "Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011."

Google's search page with Steve Jobs tribute at the bottom. Google; screenshot by Jay Greene/CNET

Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg knew Jobs well. He told public television's Rose that "We lost someone on scale of Edison or Ford...truly a giant.... He went way beyond revolutionizing the industry...he changed the way people lived."

Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, told public television's Rose that Jobs was "the most amazing product visionary our industry had or will ever have," he said. Andreessen described Jobs as beaming products from 10 to 20 years in the future.

Another venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla, said simply "Steve personified imagination applied to technology. There is no substitute for vision with a passion for excellence."

The leaders of Pixar, the movie studio that Jobs once ran, remembered him as a visionary in that industry as well. "He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined," the studio's chief creative officer, John Lasseter, and its president, Ed Catmull, said in a statement. "Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply 'make it great.'"

Disney acquired Pixar, making Jobs the company's largest shareholder, as well as a board member. Disney President Bob Iger said in a statement that Jobs was an original. "His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built," Iger said. "It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined."

With the iPhone, Jobs helped AT&T, the first carrier to partner with Apple, gain new ground in mobile telephony. AT&T's chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said in a statement, "Steve was an iconic inventor, visionary, and entrepreneur, and we had the privilege to know him as partner and friend."

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Salesforce.com Chief Executive Marc Benioff called Jobs "the greatest leader our industry has ever known," in a post on Twitter. In a subsequent tweet he added: "I am really sad. It's such a terrible loss for the whole world. I will never forget him. He did so much for me."

Dell founder Michael Dell wrote on Google+: "Today the world lost a visionary leader, the technology industry lost an iconic legend and I lost a friend and fellow founder. The legacy of Steve Jobs will be remembered for generations to come."

Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costello tweeted that Jobs reset the way people thing about corporate leadership. "Once in a rare while, somebody comes along who doesn't just raise the bar, they create an entirely new standard of measurement," Costello wrote.

AOL founder Steve Case said he was honored to have known Jobs. "He was the most innovative entrepreneur of our generation," he wrote in a tweet. "His legacy will live on for the ages."

Those sentiments were echoed by HP CEO Meg Whitman. "Steve Jobs was an iconic entrepreneur and businessman whose impact on technology was felt beyond Silicon Valley," she said. "He will be remembered for the innovation he brought to market and the inspiration he brought to the world."

Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems' former CEO, compared Jobs with one of the greatest American inventors. "It's obviously a sad day for the valley and for the technology industry," he said. "He's probably the greatest entrepreneur of our time, maybe ever, maybe since Thomas Edison. He had a very unique style, a very unorthodox style, a non-business school style....It's pretty stunning."

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said Jobs' affected everyone on the planet. "True genius is measured by the ability to touch every person on the planet. Steve did that, not just once, but many, many times over his amazing life," he said. "We at Intel were privileged to have known him and worked with him as he brought his creations to life."

Yahoo Executive Vice President Blake Irving wrote on Twitter: "Inspirational leader Uncompromising visionary who brought meaning Unduplicated individual who created religion. Thanks Steve."

Yahoo's Twitter account posted this about Jobs: "He leaves behind countless innovations that changed our lives."

And California Gov. Jerry Brown said Jobs was a "great California innovator who demonstrated what a totally independent and creative mind can accomplish. Few people have made such a powerful and elegant imprint on our lives."

Seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong recalled meeting Jobs. In a tweet, Armstrong wrote, "Devastated 2 hear about the passing of Steve Jobs. Was blessed 2 have the opportunity to spend time w/ him on several occasions. May he RIP." And then, he followed that with a quote from Jobs: "A computer is the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's a bicycle for our minds."

Jobs' vision for the iPod and later the iPhone forever changed the music industry. Cary Sherman, the chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a statement: "Like all music fans, we are saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Jobs. Steve was a larger-than-life personality -- passionate about music and one of its biggest fans and advocates. He was a true visionary who forever transformed how fans access and enjoy music."

Updated at 6 p.m. PT with comments from Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Bob Metcalfe, Steve Case, Blake Irving, and Yahoo. Updated at 6:40 p.m. with comments from President Obama and others. Updated at 7:40 with comments from Steve Wozniak, Bob Iger, Dick Costello, and others.

CNET staff contributed to this report.

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