More than 100 people flocked to Apple's flagship store on 59th Street in New York City Wednesday night to pay respects following the death of Steve Jobs.
While security guards quickly removed a handwritten sign stating, "We will miss you, Steve" posted on construction outside the store, admirers set up a makeshift vigil nearby to leave signs, flowers, candles and apples commemorating the Apple co-founder and former CEO.
Jobs admirer Karen Blanchard was one of the first to place flowers on a set of nearby steps. "I was shocked and dumbfounded," Blanchard said. "I feel like I lost a personal friend. He was an incredible motivational speaker and said things that have stuck in my head forever. He transformed the way we communicate. I'll never look at my iPhone the same way again."
It was business as usual inside the store, with employees greeting and assisting customers and setting up new displays (though none were allowed to comment on Jobs' death). Apple had no plans to close the 24-hour store, allowing admirers to commiserate with others and praise the iPod and iPhone inventor.
Los Angeles resident Ryan Armstrong, a daily visitor to Apple tech blogs and Apple devotee, was in New York on a business trip when he heard about Jobs' death. "I'm a huge Apple fan boy and his fingerprints are all over the world," Armstrong said. "He was a perfectionist and that was apparent in all the Apple products. I've never met him, but his creativity and pursuit of excellence and the arts has been an inspiration to me. It feels like the loss of someone I knew."
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Many outside the store compared Jobs' death to the loss of a loved one, noting his personable style and tangible impact on their lives. "It's like Da Vinci," said mourner Michael Marrs. "He was an artist, but also a technical innovator. It wasn't about how fancy or cool a gadget was, but how it would help you become more productive." Few CEOs have been as intrinsically tied to their company as Jobs, who co-founded the company in 1976 and left in 1985, only to resurrect Apple's flailing profits in 1996.
The crowd had its share of "MacHeads," yet even those not enamored with the product came out to support Jobs' life. New York-based attorney Garrett Wright said he always preferred PCs, though took lessons from Jobs' ingenuity and unique vision. "We're always told, 'Fall in line. Learn from the guy in front of you. Do your job. Go home.'," Wright said. "Steve Jobs said, 'No. I have an idea.' When people told him 'You can't,' he told them, 'You can.' We have to learn from that."