Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs has died, succumbing to pancreatic cancer at the age of 56. Not long after news of the computer and technology innovator's death spread on news stations and the Internet, Microsoft founder Bill Gates issued a statement on the man who often overshadowed his company.
"I’m truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’ death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work," Gates wrote on his Facebook page around 8:30 p.m. EDT.
He continued, "Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives.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. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely."
Jobs, who co-founded Apple Computer in 1976, died in California Wednesday after a lengthy battle with cancer.
He had just announced in late August that he would be stepping down as Apple, Inc.'s CEO, with Tim Cook taking the reins.
In 2004, Jobs overcame an unusual form of pancreatic cancer, and in 2009, he was forced to get a liver transplant.
"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Jobs wrote in his letter of resignation. "Unfortunately, that day has come."
The death of Jobs, the mastermind behind such iconic Apple products as the iPhone and iPad, has left fans stunned Wednesday evening.
Gates' statement on his Facebook page attracted nearly 3,000 comments and more than 10,000 "likes" within an hour of the message being published on the social network.
One commenter, Tom Sielicki, expressed remorse, but encouraged Gates to pick up where Jobs left off in revolutionizing the PC and technology market.
"He worked at Apple right to the end leading the way and guiding the company," Sielicki wrote. "Bill please take note of this and go back to Microsoft and use your God given talent to take Microsoft to the next level. I admire what you are doing but there are not many Steve Job's visionaries. You are one of them. Belinda [Gates' wife] will understand. I give my sincere condolences to Steves family."
Gates, currently chairman of Microsoft Corp. stepped down as CEO in 2008 to focus on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Not longer after posting his message, Gates changed his profile photo to an image of him not smiling, perhaps to match the tone of his message.