CUPERTINO, Calif./NEW YORK (Reuters) - Computer buffs and admirers of technology rushed to Apple shops from New York to Australia on Thursday to mourn Steve Jobs, praising him as a visionary who transformed the daily activities of countless millions.
Flags outside Apple’s headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, flew at half mast as mourners gathered on a nearby lawn. Distraught Apple fans left flowers and a man played the bagpipes.
“In my mind there is no difference between him and a Pasteur,” said Chitra Abdolzadeh, a healthcare worker in Cupertino, in reference to French chemist Louis Pasteur.
Ben Chess, 29, an engineer at an Internet company and a former Apple intern, drove to the Apple HQ from San Francisco after work to lay a bunch of flowers. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Jobs, who died on Wednesday aged 56, overturned the way users browse the Internet by giving them the iPod, iPhone and iPad. He had stepped down as chief executive of the world’s largest technology company in August.
Computer fans in China seemed particularly moved.
“I came here to see how they’ll operate on the first day after they had lost Steve Jobs,” Jin Yi, 27, said in China’s biggest Apple store in Shanghai, which opened last month.
“I also came here to mourn in my own way. It is such a pity today. He created these gadgets that changed people’s perceptions of machines. But he did not manage to witness the last step in which, through his gadgets, people’s lives can be effectively fused with these machines.”
In Hong Kong, Charanchee Chiu laid a single sunflower and white rose in front of the city center Apple store.
“I am sad. I think he should have lived longer,” he said, acknowledging that he had sent messages to Jobs to advise him on health and Tai Chi, the Chinese form of martial arts reputed to improve practitioners’ well-being.
At the downtown San Francisco Apple store, people held pictures of Jobs aloft on iPads and taped greeting cards and post-it notes to the store window saying “thank you Steve” and “I hate cancer.” Candles and red apples were placed outside.
Store employee Cory Moll described Jobs as a personal inspiration. “We’re lucky to have had him for as long as we did,” said Moll, holding an iPad displaying a quote in memorial to Jobs.
“What he’s done for us as a culture, it resonates uniquely in every person. Even if they never use an Apple product, the impact they have had is so far-reaching.”
Across the country in New York City, an impromptu memorial made from fliers featuring pictures of Jobs was erected outside a 24-hour Apple store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, with mourners snapping photos of it on their iPhones.
“We will miss you Steve, RIP. Thank you for your vision,” read one flier.
Business professor Gary Hamel said he left for the store as soon as he found out about Jobs’ death.
“As soon as I heard the news, I came out to this Apple store to pay my respects,” he said, clutching the power cord he had just bought inside. “I saw tears in some people’s eyes.”
Outside an Apple store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, two men laid candles, bouquets of flowers, an apple and, for a while, placed an iPod Touch on the ground.
At a Boston store, student Angelos Nicolaou said Jobs had “inspired us to be rebels and challenge the status quo. I hope there will be more leaders like him. It seems like the world is running out of them.”
In Sydney, Australia, lawyer George Raptis, who was five years old when he first used a Macintosh computer, made his way to the glass-paneled Apple store when he heard the news.
“He’s changed the face of computing,” he said. “There will only ever be one Steve Jobs.”
Some of those who flocked to Apple stores when they heard of Jobs’ passing were thinking of Apple’s future without its co-founder. The company named Tim Cook as its new CEO at the end of August when Jobs stepped down.
“They had a lot of time to prepare for the transition,” said Guilherme Ferraz, 44, a Brazilian businessman outside a Manhattan Apple store. “Tim Cook will continue his legacy.”
Additional reporting by Reuters bureau; Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Nick Macfie