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Erstwhile enemy Sculley: Jobs was 'greatest CEO'

John Sculley, who ousted Jobs from Apple, offered praise after his death. Also: tributes from U.K. leader David Cameron, mathematician Stephen Wolfram, and an XKCD cartoon.

John Sculley

Steve Jobs and John Sculley got off to a rough start, with Jobs luring the former PepsiCo executive to Apple and Sculley eventually ousting Jobs from the company. But Sculley has a very different view today, a day after Jobs' death.

"His legacy is far more than being the greatest CEO ever," Sculley told The Wall Street Journal. "A world leader is dead, but the lessons his leadership taught us live on."

Sculley, who has criticized himself for failing to recognize the potential of Apple's HyperCard software, called Jobs a "brilliant genius who transformed technology into magic." And he said a part of "still lives within all of us through his beautifully designed products and his no-compromises media experiences."

Sculley is one of dozens of notable figures praising Jobs and mourning his death. When the news reached Europe today, another joined in, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron.

"Steve Jobs transformed the way we work and play; a creative genius who will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family," Cameron said via Twitter.

Those who knew Jobs offered personal recollections. One of those was Stephen Wolfram, founder of Wolfram Research and author of "A New Kind of Science." His company's mathematics software, Mathematica, shipped on the NeXT computers that emerged from Jobs' startup in the years after his ouster and before his triumphant return, and now the Wolfram Alpha search and answer technology is incorporated in the Siri voice assistant announced this week with the iPhone 4S.

"It's hard to remember tonight all the ways Steve Jobs has supported and encouraged us over the years. Big things and small things. Looking at my archive I realize I'd forgotten just how many detailed problems he jumped in to solve," Wolfram said in a blog post. "From the glitches in versions of NextStep [the NeXT computer's operating system], to the personal phone call not long ago to assure us that if we ported Mathematica and CDF to iOS they wouldn't be banned."

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And it was Jobs who convinced Wolfram to name his software Mathematica, beating out alternatives such as PolyMath and Omega. "Steve thought those were lousy names...One day he said to me: 'you should call it Mathematica,'" a name Wolfram had rejected. "I asked Steve why he thought it was good, and he told me his theory for a name was to start from the generic term for something, then romanticize it. His favorite example at the time was Sony's Trinitron."

Wolfram shared an anecdote about the NeXT computers, which while a commercial failure still proved to be important. Every Next machine shipped with a copy of Mathematica, and a batch of them headed off to CERN, the particle accelerator near Geneva. Those machines are where Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web.

Another figure with ties to Jobs before in his glory days who spoke up is Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and an early Jobs employer. "The world has lost a genius who has forever changed the way we live, work, and play," Bushnell said in a statement.

Walt Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal product reviewer and former White House correspondent, also offered memories of Steve Jobs from years of interactions. Jobs paid very close attention to Mossberg's reviews, but the two evidently discussed much more than that. Mossberg and Jobs were close enough that Jobs presented the iPad to him at Jobs' own home--he was too sick at the time to go to the office--and Mossberg spent three hours with him one day after Jobs' liver transplant. The two walked to a nearby park.

"As we were walking and talking, he suddenly stopped, not looking well. I begged him to return to the house, noting that I didn't know CPR and could visualize the headline: 'Helpless Reporter Lets Steve Jobs Die on the Sidewalk.' But he laughed, and refused, and, after a pause, kept heading for the park," Mossberg recounted. "Steve Jobs didn't die that day, to my everlasting relief. But now he really is gone, much too young, and it is the world's loss."

Adobe issued a statement last night in which co-founders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke recounted the first time they met Jobs: "We met Steve Jobs about 3 months after we started Adobe. He called us and said: 'I hear you guys are doing great things--can we meet?' He came over to our tiny office in Mountain View and saw the early stages of PostScript. He got the concept immediately and we started about 5 months of negotiations over our first contract. Apple invested $2.5 million into Adobe and gave us an advance on royalties. This allowed us to help Apple build the first LaserWriter. Without Steve's vision and incredible willingness to take risk, Adobe would not be what it is today. We owe an enormous debt to Steve and his vision."

Even Randall Munroe, who draws the nerdy XKCD cartoon, had something to add. Today's cartoon Eternal Flame, shows two figures walking past a monument. That monument shows not an ordinary eternal flame, though, but the spinning rainbow-colored ball that Mac OS X shows when stalled.

News of his demise reached beyond the Earth to astronauts, a profession well-versed in the ups and downs of hero worship.

"In every generation, there are great thinkers and people...who have the vision of what can be and then have the energy, the skill, and the genius to make it happen," astronaut Mike Fossum, who commands Expedition 29 on the International Space Station, told CNET. "Steve Jobs is definitely one of those rare individuals, and the world's going to miss him a lot."

CNET and CBS blogger Bill Harwood contributed to this story.