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Steve Jobs put devices in our pockets, and a whole lot more

Steve Jobs' passing has elicited a range of responses, making clear that his impact goes well beyond his technology

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Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away yesterday, and a good many people seem to be searching for how to deal with their feelings of loss. There's an instinct to drive to Apple's Cupertino headquarters, where the flags are at half-mast, to stand vigil around Apple stores, to issue remembrances or kind words and in some instances apologies.

It seems a page out of Orwell or Huxley that these should be responses to the death of a computer company CEO. But as they make clear, Apple succeeded because Jobs was far more: a visionary, a questioner of the expected, an arbiter of taste and ultimately a man who changed the world.

"Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last," President Obama said in a statement yesterday. "Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world."

Longtime competitor Bill Gates released a statement in which he said it was an "honor" to have worked with a man he will miss "immensely," adding, "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."

Samsung paused its fierce legal battle with Apple long enough for CEO Choi Gee-sung to issue a statement offering his condolences and writing that Jobs' "innovative spirits and remarkable accomplishments will forever be remembered by people around the world."

Jobs brought beauty and an attention to detail to realms where it hadn't existed, lifting the expectations and standards of consumers worldwide. "He was such a manager of the little details, the tiny little nuances in between one product and another that really makes a huge difference," Steve Wozniak, Jobs' high-school friend and a co-founder of Apple said in a BBC tribute video.

Jobs' ability to both visualize big-picture concepts and the tiniest details impressed tech reviewer Walt Mossberg throughout their friendship, which began with a young Jobs placing Sunday-night calls to Mossberg's home.

"They turned into marathon, 90-minute, wide-ranging, off-the-record discussions that revealed to me the stunning breadth of the man," Mossberg wrote in a blog post yesterday. He went on to tell a story about Jobs conducting a tour for journalists through the first Apple retail store.

"I teased him by asking if he, personally, despite his hard duties as CEO, had approved tiny details like the translucency of the glass and the color of the wood," wrote Mossberg. "He said he had, of course."

As much as the iMac changed computing and the iPhone smartphones, even Apple stores redefined tech retail. During the introduction of the iPhone 4S this week, new Apple CEO Tim Cook shared that the newest Apple store, in Shanghai, received 100,000 visitors during its opening weekend.

"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being," Cook said in letter to Apple employees and a tribute on the Apple homepage.

While a sharp thinker, Jobs was also a warm, inspiring speaker. In his moving 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, since viewed by tens of millions, he described an early brush with death. Characteristically mindful, Jobs used the experience to his betterment ó and ours.

"Remembering that Iíll be dead soon is the most important tool Iíve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life," he told the young graduates. "Because almost everything ó all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure ó these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.Ē

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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