Santa brought my family its first computer on Christmas Day 1984. I was 8, though for some reason it feels like I should have been 7. It was a Macintosh 512, affectionately referred to as the 'Fat Mac'. We got a subscription to Macworld and a bunch of programs as well. My mom spearheaded the integration of this strange new machine into the household while my dad stood back and embraced the ways of the luddite, as he still does to this day. I looked on in wonder and excitement, using the new machine at every opportunity, curious as to why my MacPaint creations never looked as awesome as the sample art. Swapping floppies became habit. Boston Mac User Group (BMUG) discs littered the desk. I begged for a LaserWriter but instead we got an ImageWriter II.
At school I used Apple II's and Basic to make shapes with a turtle.
At home I designed posters and wrote screenplays based on me being Indiana Jones. And I played Lode Runner. A huge amount of Lode Runner.
After an upgrade to 1Mb of RAM could only take us so far and so we used my cousin's educational discount and bought a Macintosh SE. That had an internal hard drive, which blew my mind. Swapping floppies was relegated to installs only. My mother wrote a cookbook on that machine. It was that machine that came with us to London when we moved in 1989.
My first Mac was a Classic II. I got it my junior year of High School. By then Tetris had replaced Lode Runner as my gaming addiction. That was followed by an LCIII, a Centris 610 (hand-me-down), a PowerMac 7100/66 (also hand-me-down), a PowerBook G3 250, a PowerBook G3 Pismo, a PowerBook G4, an iBook G4, a black MacBook and now the 15" MacBook Pro that I'm writing this on. I had the first iPod and quite a few subsequent iPods - Shuffles, Nanos and a Classic, but never a Mini. I'm on my third iPhone and I use an iPad regularly. I've never owned a PC.
In the summer of 1997, my mother and I drove from Key West to Washington DC. We listened to a lot of NPR and tried to identify road kill along the way. I remember saying that she and dad should, if they had the money, invest in Apple. The stock was trading at about $12 a share at the time. This was before the iMac. Steve Jobs had only just returned to the company and the future was uncertain to say the least. My mom asked why and I said, 'They make the best computers. Someone's going to have to notice that eventually. And it looks like Steve Jobs is going to help people notice that.'
Every step of my education and subsequent professional life has been processed on Macs. Writing, web design, general design, photography, project management and wine merchanting have all been made a little more comprehensible, a little more pleasurable, a little more manageable because I have faith and confidence in the tools I use.
Last night I was drinking whisky with friends when one stopped mid sentence and handed me his iPad with the news splash of Steve Jobs' death. I took to Twitter and saw a steady stream of reactions to the news. We poured another dram and spoke in saddened awe. I couldn't sleep when I got home and so wandered online, reading testimonial after testimonial.
Steve Jobs built the company that makes the tools I use and trust. He did it remarkably. He built another company that makes movies I love. The tools that forged the World Wide Web were built by yet another company of his. The sheer scale of his accomplishments is daunting. He changed the world in not one but several fields. For the better, and without question better than the alternatives. A future without him driving forward innovation, shaping the advancements of technology so that it actually matters to people, seems a sad prospect.
It seems selfish, really, to mourn the loss of someone who has done so much because, in part, I wanted there to be more.
Rest in peace, Steve. And thank you.