Tag Archives: computers

On Steve Jobs’ Passing

6 Oct

When I was first introduced to computing in 4th or 5th grade, it was to type on a large, beige device with no screen, it was just attached to a printer. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what that thing did, or was for. In 6th grade, we got Commodore computers that loaded programs via cassette tape.  Sometime in 7th grade, however, my school got a bunch of Apple ][ pluses. These things were a quantum leap forward. Programs loaded and saved much faster on 5 1/4″ floppies than on cassette. I was fascinated, and took the time to learn AppleSoft to the point that I was enjoying spending hours experimenting and writing programs.

These programs didn’t do much, and I wasn’t all that good at it, but it was an introduction to a whole new world.

Much as people insist that Android phones are better than iOS devices, back then the real hardcore computer geeks much preferred the lonely TRS-80 that was inexplicably kept in a hallway outside a teacher’s office. I didn’t like that machine – it may have been more powerful and professional, but it wasn’t user-friendly. It wasn’t the machine that caught my attention and interest.

We eventually bought an Apple ][e, which was quite expensive and didn’t really do much. We didn’t spring for a printer, and modems weren’t in a lot of homes in the early 80s. By 1984, the first Macs appeared and completely changed how we looked at computers. When I was in college, many of my peers had these compact little machines.  We’d use them for drawing, for games, and for writing papers. They were also expensive, but so revolutionary.

But I didn’t get one. I didn’t get another computer until I got a PC for law school in the early 90s. It had an 80MB hard drive and 1MB of RAM. It couldn’t run Windows 2.0, and at that time it was Bill Gates who was the computing world’s wunderkind. Apple wasn’t doing well at all.

I owned another string of mediocre PCs until 2003 when the Apple store opened in the Walden Galleria. It’s like a magnet, that store, and I often went in there to admire the computers and the revolutionary iPod. We got an iMac G4 and it was revelatory after years of crappy PCs. It had wifi before we had a wireless router. The store threw in extra RAM to make the sale. We soon got an iPod. Then an iBook. Then a MacBook. Then another. Some Nanos. A Shuffle. Then, the iPhone – we’ve owned every generation, and it’s an incredible device. I can’t imagine going back to a flip phone. The iPad may seem redundant or silly, but I love it, and use it daily for everything from web surfing, to blogging, to reading the paper and my magazine subscriptions.  After returning to Apple, he began making devices that were as beautiful as they were excellent.

Steve Jobs helped ensure that the US was at the technological forefront. He was a visionary, a pitchman, a designer, and an innovator.  He was one of the best and most successful businessmen in American history, and he created not just products, but entire market sectors.  He changed our lives. He changed the world.

I don’t know really why his passing bums me out so much, but it did. He was too young, and we’ll never know what else he could have come up with over the next 20-some years of his average life expectancy. I’m not sure there’s anyone left out there right now who’s quite like him, or if there ever will be again.

And this post was made on a Mac.