At Columbia mall's Apple store, customers pay tribute to Jobs

In the late morning hours of Thursday, Oct. 6, the Apple store inside The Mall in Columbia was filled with a few dozen customers and employees. It was business as usual.

Tributes in the front window, however, told another story, as did a bouquet of flowers and a small candle next to a notepad and Sharpie, with the suggestion: "Leave a Message."

Apple Inc. co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs died Wednesday, Oct. 5, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his company announced. He was 56.

The message Carol Troutman, of Columbia, left was to the point: "Job well done."

"I was devastated," Troutman said. "I knew he was ill, but it's still devastating. It's an iconic loss. What this man was able to do in his short years … he was able to anticipate what we wanted, needed, before we ever even did. That anticipation, that knowledge, is his greatest legacy."

Troutman, a user of Apple products, said that among all the tributes and news coverage she had seen, it seemed the focus was on Jobs' vision, not on his business. That, she said, was an oversight.

"He got his company to be the most valuable company in the world, over Exxon, over IBM, over everything," Troutman said. "He surpassed the market value of all of that. That's one heck of an achievement."

Jobs co-founded Apple, the company that gave the world the Mac computer, the iPod, iPhone and iPad, among other products, in 1976, and announced his resignation as CEO Aug. 24. Jobs was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and had a liver transplant in 2009. He had taken a medical leave of absence from the company twice, most recently earlier this year.

The glass storefront at the mall's Apple store was filled with messages from well-wishers leaving their condolences. One hoped Jobs would find peace "in your own iCloud." One thanked Jobs, as the innovator's creations had, in turn, created jobs. One read "Goodbye," written on the screen of a cartoon iMac, and another, referring to an Apple commercial, read "Think Different."

Julia Cooke, of Laurel, also spoke to the magnitude of Jobs' business prowess, as well as his vision. She learned of Jobs' death on her iPad.

"That seemed very fitting to me," she said.

Store managers and employees were not able to comment, but a statement from Apple CEO Tim Cook informing employees of Jobs' passing expressed sadness and gratitude.

"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being," Cook said. "Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

What do you think? Do you think the world, and your life, is different or better because of the ideas that Steve Jobs helped create and promote? What do you think is his lasting impact?