Steve Jobs

October 5, 2012 11:35 am Published by 1 Comment

An image from a simple motion graphic made in Flash for class shortly after Steve Jobs died.

I never knew Steve Jobs. I never had the chance to meet him. To shake his hand. Or for that matter even see him in the same room. It wasn’t until after he died that I lived anywhere even remotely close to him (outside of being in the same country, that is). Despite all that, I was moved to tears by the news of his death one year ago today. It wasn’t something I could really process. Intellectually I knew exactly what it meant. But it just seemed so unbelievable, regardless of my knowledge of his condition. And I was shocked by how much it upset me.

I’ve used Apple (or Apple inspired) products since I was a child. The first computer I remember using was a Franklin computer, an Apple II clone. And when my family moved to New Mexico, we got a Mac. An SE/30, if I’m not mistaken. It was meant to be a computer for my mom, but my dad used it a lot. And being the only computer in the house, it got a lot of use out of us children as well. Particularly after we moved to Washington state and a while later got a newer computer. We played Lode Runner, Glypha, Scarab of Ra, and used Hypercard, KidPix, Superpaint and MS Word. It was used frequently for many different tasks. And when I was a teenager I finally learned of the difference between our computers and the computers owned by others. “I have to type in a command to launch Tetris? All I have to do at home is double-click the icon.” PCs eventually caught up, but it took them awhile.

It wasn’t until Steve Jobs returned to Apple via NeXT that I started to hear the doomsaying of Apple. “Apple can’t die. How could a company with computers so far ahead of the rest die?” When I was 17 I made a bet with a teacher in computer programming. He insisted that Apple would be gone within 5 years. I insisted that wasn’t the case and he initiated the bet. Ten dollars. Unfortunately, he stopped working at the school before I could cash in on my rewards. Assuming he even remembered the bet. It was around that time that I started to become irrationally passionate about Apple. The fanboy fervor had kicked into overdrive. I didn’t even know what I was talking about in most cases. But that was ok, because not many people did. Sure, there were a lot of pretenders (and still are), but certainly very few who really understood what they were talking about.

I kept following Apple after leaving school and working in food service jobs. I had an eMac, one of their desktop computers made exclusively for the education market. Then I didn’t have it. I had to sell it to make rent. I’d gotten to use it for 2-3 years, and had built a brand new PC. Despite that, my eMac was worth twice as much as my PC to a potential buyer. So it had to go.

Several years later, an amazing turnaround at Apple, a job for me selling PCs, two years of using Windows exclusively and I was finally able to reinvest into a Mac. I knew what it was like to use Windows computers, build them, maintain them, program for them. I was now intimately familiar with the fanboyism from an outside perspective. Rampant on any platform, fanboyism turns normal people into extremist morons. It’s one thing to know your system and why you prefer it based on real experience and to be able to articulate it well. But fanboys just spew the same talking points given to them by the media over and over again. I was one. I dealt with dozens of them. They’re a plague, but one that is bound to crop up anywhere. The various political parties in this country are full of them! And I was determined not to be one again. But I couldn’t help but feel comforted to be back to using a computer that wasn’t likely to be plagued with user interface inconsistencies, or to be crippled in no time by one wrong click. I realized that I’d learned to be paranoid when using Windows. Because, after all, if there are over 150,000 pieces of malware floating around the internet that can cripple your computer, corrupt, destroy or spread your personal files all around the internet at the drop of a hat, it can make a cautious person become paranoid quite easily.

I still had to use Windows at school (the programming course was ridiculously directed toward Microsoft exclusive technologies, at a time when the App Store was becoming the biggest money-maker for individual programmers to ever hit the market), and I still had to help people with them and sell them at work. But I didn’t have to use it at home anymore.

I realized when I returned to the Mac that there were many things I appreciated about it, right from the beginning. The simple design. The straightforward user interface. The sheer power it provides to a user, to be able to do whatever they want with the resources it provides. I also realized just how important that inherent security of the Mac was to me. To be able to get online without paranoia was a joyous thing, and one that I never thought of before using Windows.

I am definitely a technophile. But I doubt that would be the case were it not for Apple, the Mac and specifically the design — both on the outside and the inside — that Jobs inspired in those he worked with, and those that created for the platform he helped to design. I wouldn’t care so much for simplicity, elegance and straightforward, user-friendly interfaces were it not for Jobs. He may not have been the one to create them, but he most certainly influenced those that did.

Thank you, Steve Jobs. I know you can’t read this, but thank you anyway. You were and continue to be an inspiration to many. Your dent will most certainly be remembered for a long time to come.

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This post was written by Mikal

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