While many consumers today were imagining an Apple without Steve Jobs, industry leaders were publicly recognizing him for changing the face of personal computing and inspiring next-level gadget design.
Shortly after Jobs announced today that he was resigning as Apple CEO, Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet and founder of 3Com, wrote in a tweet that Jobs was "my hero."
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who initially left his company after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, wrote on Twitter that he wished Jobs the best "as he faces his health challenges" and called Jobs "one of one of the greatest innovators of our industry."
Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, said in an e-mail statement: "Steve is one of the industry's most gifted entrepreneurs, visionaries and creative minds, and has been one of AT&T's closest business partners for several years. We celebrate his accomplishments and wish him all the best. And we look forward to continuing to collaborate with Tim Cook and his team in enabling innovation in the mobile ecosystem."
Lowell McAdam, CEO of rival carrier Verizon, also weighed in via e-mail: "Steve Jobs changed wireless forever. He took our already vibrant sector, and with laser focus, injected compelling new competitive aspects to customer choice. Steve has been a fierce competitor, a dedicated strategic partner, and a visionary who has improved peoples' lives. Tim Cook will make an excellent CEO, continuing the traditions and performance culture Steve instilled at Apple. We look forward to building on the strong foundation Steve helped lay between Apple and Verizon."
Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist at Apple, wrote on Google+: "No CEO in the history of mankind has done more for his customers, employees, and shareholders than Steve. I consider it an honor to have worked for him."
Meanwhile, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff posted this tweet: "Steve Jobs is the greatest leader our industry has ever known. It's the end of an era."
"Business superhero Steve Jobs has changed people's lives around the world more than almost any businessperson alive," Bill Gross, chief executive of Idealab, wrote in a post on Google+.
"I'm just glad that he was able to preside over Apple's greatest moments, and choose to leave this time, knowing that he has secured symbolic immortality," Steve Jurvetson, a managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, wrote in an e-mail to CNET. "At the personal and corporate levels, it is the comeback story archetype turned hyperbole."
And Jeff Clavier, founder and managing partner of SoftTech VC, tweeted that "millions of us are feeling orphans of Jobs' leadership, who had so much impact on tech and design."
In an e-mail to CNET, Clavier elaborated on Jobs' brilliant eye for design: "This is the end of an era, one where Jobs led pushing design and simplicity at a level never achieved before--Apple products work, they are beautiful, and there is a sheer pleasure of using these devices (very true of my beloved MacBook Air new generation as I type this). Jobs inspired this focus on design which is now established in the Web industry--try to hire design talent in San Francisco, and you'll see that everyone is looking for them... He will remain as one of the most inspirational and effective tech leaders of all time."
Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was waxing nostalgic about his friend Jobs, saying he would probably "be remembered for the next 100 years as the best business leader of our time," according to a report on TheNextWeb.com quoting a Bloomberg telephone interview with Wozniak.
"He is a living legend and built up a phenomenally successful CE (consumer electronics) company," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. "Apple has huge bench strength and will continue to do well."
CNET will update this report as more executives comment on the news.
CNET's Martin LaMonica, Jay Greene, Rafe Needleman, Roger Cheng, and Laura Locke contributed to this report.
Updated August 25 at 6:48 a.m. PT with Lowell McAdam comment and at 6 a.m. PT with Gary Shapiro comment and August 24 at 7:53 p.m. PT with comment from Steve Jurvetson.