On the day Steve Jobs died, perhaps the best measure of the technology innovator's remarkable impact on the everyday lives of people could be seen at Apple (AAPL) stores.

From Walnut Creek to Berkeley to San Jose, Bay Area residents perused must-have gadgets such as the iPad, iPod and iPhone -- devices that all sprang from the vision of the legendary entrepreneur.

At the Stockton Street store in San Francisco, many people were holding iPads or taking pictures of the scene with their iPhones as they crowded around the entrance on a jammed sidewalk. Software developer Steve Streza, 24, held up his iPad, which displayed a photo of the former Apple CEO.

"Steve Jobs has been a major impact on my life," Streza said. "Without him, my life would be on a completely different path."

A makeshift memorial had appeared in front of the store. It included several dozen candles, apples and Post-it notes attached to the window with messages such as: "Thank you genius."

"It is still settling in for me that he is gone," added Cory Moll, 29, a store employee. "He changed the world."

Less than an hour after the announcement Wednesday afternoon, it was business as usual at the Apple store in San Jose's Valley Fair mall. As dozens of customers shopped, there was no visual sign that Jobs had died. But Will Nguyen had heard the news.

"It's a gloomy day for Silicon Valley," said Nguyen, 23, of Campbell. "He did a lot for my generation. Everyone I know uses Apple products in some way."

In a tony, tree-lined section of downtown Palo Alto, police cordoned off two blocks around Jobs' 1934 medieval-revival mansion because of safety concerns as media and mourners began to gather in the late afternoon.

But local residents were allowed to stroll by the house. And there was a steady, solemn procession by those paying their respects. Some placed flowers before a small apricot orchard in front of Jobs' home, and children expressed their condolences with messages written in marker on the sidewalk.

"He was such an incredible man," said Monica Moreland, 32, a Stanford employee who lives in the neighborhood. "He gave so much, not only to the community, but to the entire world."

Jean Wu came to the home with her 11-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. She described how the products that Jobs created had intimately touched the lives of her entire family.

"For a parent, we say, 'If you do something good, we will reward you with an iPhone or an iPad,' " Wu said of her children. "I think without those, they would be really bored."

Not far away, Eric Krebs was on his way to the Palo Alto Apple store. Krebs said he needs two hands to count all the Apple products he owns.

"I think it's a big loss for everyone," added Krebs, an attorney. "He was a visionary, an innovator, a creator."

At Apple's corporate headquarters in Cupertino, employees said they were asked not to talk to the media as they left work. But one unidentified Apple employee, when asked about the company mood, said: "As you can imagine, it wasn't really good."

Praise and condolences also poured in from around the world as the news quickly spread. President Barack Obama tweeted: "Rest in peace, Steve Jobs."

Gov. Jerry Brown said Jobs "demonstrated what a totally independent and creative mind can accomplish. Few people have made such a powerful and elegant imprint on our lives."

Outside the Apple store in Emeryville, a trio of UC Berkeley students -- Kenny Sexauer, Amy Daniels and Katie Werner -- stopped to inspect a bouquet of white flowers left near the door.

"Thanks, Steve," the bouquet's card read. "You changed the world!"

That sentiment was echoed by Tami Wilder at the Walnut Creek store, where customers shopped with darkened moods.

"People will be reading about him 100 years from now," said Wilder, 19, a Diablo Valley College student.

Back in San Francisco, a tourist from Switzerland looked on with curiosity and some bewilderment at the scene in front of the Stockton Street store. He was surprised to learn the crowd was there to mourn Jobs.

"Oh," Hans Braun said, "I thought it was the iPad 3."

Bay Area News Group staff writers Thomas Peele, Karen de Sá, Joe Rodriguez, Alex Pavlovic, Lisa Krieger, Matt Krupnick, Jason Green and Rick Hurd contributed to this report.