Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs died and I'm taking it personal

The first computer we ever had was a Mac. Dad brought it home when I was in the 4th grade - which was in 1984. I had no idea - until today - that the Mac was invented that year. My father was cutting edge in several ways - namely in getting Saab in 1972 before anyone even really knew what that was, and his life-altering switch from Budweiser to Coors. And then, with this. He got an Apple credit card, and bought himself a computer. My father was, unbeknownst to me, one of the pioneers of desktop publishing. Apparently.

One day, with very lttle fanfare, dad brought home a square, tan case with a shoulder strap, unzipped the top and pulled out a square, tan box. He set it down on a table in my parent's bedroom, and the rest is history. Within a few months he was publishing a newspaper on that thing, and I was spending hours drawing strange patterns on MacPaint and playing carefully approved video games heavy on word play, all the while desperately pretending I didn't want an Atari like Dina across the street.

I was too young then to appreciate the gift I was given: I was 9 years old, and I knew my way around a Mac. I wasn't just learning how to type - which is a skill that I developed quickly at that young age - I was also able to cut and paste, to move boxes of text, to caption photos, to spellcheck, and change fonts. And with desktop publishing, it was easier for my father to work from home - a mixed blessing to be sure, but I did learn an awful lot about desktop publishing. I also learned that the closer you got to deadline, the more you had to shout "FUCK" and the less time you had to go get another vodka tonic from the kitchen.

Important life lessons I carry with me to this day.

It might surprise you to know that even after being raised in a completely Mac-centric household, I have never owned my own Apple computer. In fact, even though I was at the forefront of the mac culture right out of the gate, I basically stalled out in 1990. I have an ancient laptop. I bought a Droid phone. I did break down and get an iPod a few years ago, but we don't actually use it that often and I only have a few albums on there - I hate hooking the damn thing up to my dinosaur computer and as a result I have been slow to download music off of my cd collection - never mind trying to upload anything from the internet. But I understand the convenience of the technology, and the way Steve Jobs has changed daily life for everyone. His contributions are immeasurable, and I know that there are still ideas in development that we don't know anything about yet. And I know that some day I will get up to speed - only about 15 years behind everyone else - but I wouldn't even be there if it wasn't for Steve Jobs.

My fear is that, without his ideas and foresight, who's going to come up with this stuff? He is the golden child of technology, and I haven't even fully integrated all of his amazing developments into my life yet - what if I have questions? What if I want something different? I just can't believe we are out of time. Now I feel like I have to go buy a Mac. Before someone at Apple starts really screwing it all up over there.


Steve Jobs encouraged artistic expression through technology, and provided the tools to accomplish that. He was able to combine high-tech with fine art, color with light, sound with picture - and he made it accessible to everyone. Even if we didn't know we wanted it yet.


qandlequeen said...

Never in a million years would have seen myself as a techie, yet I definitely "got" the mac and have never looked back. I got my first taste with OS 7, so not as early as you, but still some time ago.

Steve's vision has totally transformed our society. I know he has built a team of other visionaries who will continue and build on his legacy. We will be left to wonder what other innovations would have rolled out of his head had he lived longer.

Very sad day indeed.

8 said...

I'm with you.

My Dad died a couple of years ago- a life tong techie and an Apple II purchaser before they had disk drives.

I'm wondering what they are talking about today.