Steve Jobs: What Twitter is saying

Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief visionary who turned Apple (s aapl) from an also-ran in the computer industry into one of the most valuable companies in the world, passed away on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. The web — and social media such as Twitter — immediately turned into a real-time expression of sorrow and gratitude to Apple’s CEO for his creativity and genius. From the luminaries of Silicon Valley such as Bill Gates and Ethernet creator Bob Metcalfe to ordinary Apple users, the outpouring of thoughts and memories came in a flood. Here’s a selection of what some people had to say about Jobs.

Microsoft (s msft) founder and former CEO Gates, who also posted on his blog (for more thoughts from Jobs’ Silicon Valley contemporaries, see my colleague Erica Ogg’s post), said on Twitter that:

For those of us lucky enough to get to work with Steve, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.

Bob Metcalfe, who helped develop the Ethernet standard, said: “Alas, Steve Jobs has died. May he rest in peace. What are we going to do now, without his insanely greatness?” And then later, Metcalfe added: “now the people around me in this Colorado bar are having to watch a grown man cry as he types this on his iPad.” Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce (s crm), said: “I’m so sad. It’s such a terrible loss. For the whole world. I’ll never forget him. He did so much for me.”

President Barack Obama’s staff also took to their official Twitter account to send their thoughts, saying: “Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. From all of us at #Obama2012, thank you for the work you make possible every day — including ours.” And Andy Carvin, the NPR digital editor who turned Twitter into a one-man newswire with reports from the revolutions in Egypt and throughout the Arab world over the past year, said that his massive Twitter stream was filled with comments about the passing of Apple’s founder:

Huffington Post founder and now AOL (s aol) executive Arianna Huffington said on Twitter that “My thoughts go out to Steve Jobs’ family and friends. Thank you for changing our world,” while Demand Media CEO (s dmnd) and founder Richard Rosenblatt said: “I am sad; just teared up when I heard steve jobs died; a true inspiration and the CEO I admired most with no real number 2. Farewell.” John Hodgman, the comedian and author who starred as the PC in Apple’s advertising campaign, said that “Everything good I have done, I have done on a Mac.”

A number of those responding to Jobs’ death compared him to some of the great inventors of all time, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Leonardo da Vinci. Jeff Jarvis, the author of a book about Google and a journalism professor at New York University, said that “We have lost our Gutenberg, Edison, Picasso, Carnegie….,” while Silicon Valley M&A executive Andrew Siegel said: “Our Edison, our Elvis. RIP.” And Dave Cohn of said that Steve Jobs was the closest thing to da Vinci that he could think of:

Others focused on Jobs’ influence outside of just technology: writer Nicholas Thurkettle said that “People who speak of Steve Jobs’s legacy in tech terms are missing the story. Tech was the medium. Jobs was a philosopher.” Monty Ashley said “There goes a man who invented the modern world.” And former MySpace president Jason Hirschhorn said: “Jobs’ influence on product design, commerce and overall brand experiences is far more vast than the consumer technology industry.”

Some who heard the news were just sad: Gizmodo writer Mat Honan said “Literally sick to my stomach from the news about Steve Jobs passing away.” And Delicious founder Joshua Schachter said simply: “iSad.” But tech blogger Joel Johnson said: “I can’t be sad. Steve Jobs didn’t get as much time as he should have, but god damn did he make the most of it.” Jobs was even celebrated by a parody account — the supposed Twitter account of Harry Potter character Severus Snape, who said: “RIP Steve Jobs. You truly were a wizard among Muggles.”

Peter Merholz, who founded Adaptive Path, noted that “SJ was directly involved in 5 revolutions – -personal computer, WIMP GUI, Pixar, iPod/iTunes, iPhone/IPad. It’s an astonishing legacy.” And Hunter Walk, director of product management at Google, said that “Beyond the products, Jobs gift to world is the next generation of innovators he inspired.” Stewart Alsop, a venture capitalist with Alsop Louie Partners, said : “I’m so sad that Steve Jobs is gone. And so lucky that I lived my life in his time and his industry.”