When Steve Jobs' friends, colleagues and even competitors wanted to share their memories and feelings about their loss, they turned to social networking sites.
Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and an industry luminary, died Wednesday at the age 56. The man who battled cancer for seven years was admired as a visionary whose technological innovations changed the face of personal computing, brought the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad to consumers and made Apple a company with rock-star status.
As news of Jobs' death spread over the Internet Wednesday night, users were quick to turn to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to share the news and to pay tribute. Traffic appeared to spike at Facebook, Twitter and Google+ around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Twitter struggled briefly under the weight of the traffic, suffering a few of its "Fail Whales" messages but remaining online.
Online traffic-monitoring companies haven't yet analyzed the surge in traffic to social sites.
High-tech leaders who worked alongside or competed with Jobs also turned to social media, sharing their feelings of loss with online friends and followers.
The other Steve in Apple's history, co-founder Steve Wozniak, made a post on Facebook, expressing his feelings and asking for time to deal with his grief.
"I am in shock and saddened," Wozniak wrote. "The phone is ringing constantly and I'm overwhelmed with email and there is only one of me. The bother of all this gets in the way of dealing with my own feelings, so please, I need time to myself."
He later added, "I do feel like I did when John Lennon was killed. Also JFK and Martin Luther King. Like Steve Jobs, they gave us hope."
Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and Jobs' longtime rival and friend, also turned to Facebook to share his thoughts on Jobs.
"I'm truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs' death," Gates wrote. "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."
Larry Page co-founder and CEO of Google, posted his thoughts on Google+, the company's new social network, which is rivaling Facebook and Twitter.
"I am very, very sad to hear the news about Steve," Page wrote Wednesday night. "He was a great man with incredible achievements and amazing brilliance... He was very kind to reach out to me as I became CEO of Google and spend time offering his advice and knowledge even though he was not at all well. My thoughts and Google's are with his family and the whole Apple family."
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, also used Google+. "Today the world lost a visionary leader, the technology industry lost an iconic legend and I lost a friend and fellow founder," he wrote Wednesday night. "The legacy of Steve Jobs will be remembered for generations to come. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to the Apple team."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com.