In 1997, shortly after Mr. Jobs returned to Apple, the company he helped start in 1976, Dell's founder and chairman, Michael S. Dell, was asked at a technology conference what might be done to fix Apple, then deeply troubled financially.
"What would I do?" Mr. Dell said to an audience of several thousand information technology managers. "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."
On Friday, apparently savoring the moment, Mr. Jobs sent a brief e-mail message to Apple employees, which read: "Team, it turned out that Michael Dell wasn't perfect at predicting the future. Based on today's stock market close, Apple is worth more than Dell. Stocks go up and down, and things may be different tomorrow, but I thought it was worth a moment of reflection today. Steve."