Thank You Steve Jobs

Thanks Steve, your vision–the Macintosh, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad–changed my life and I am sincerely grateful. In 1984, my father helped me purchase my first one; it had 64k memory and a floppy drive. I had a bag to carry it around, as portable as one could get in its time. The GUI was fantastic. Before it, I worked with command line on mainframes, including cardpunch stations and COBOL in college. Never drop 1500 hundred punch cards without a page number on each.

In the early days the other bit-heads and Macintosh enthusiasts, collected and traded software like it was baseball cards. I never got into baseball or other sports; I was more interested in cars and hardware. My Macintosh gave me access to a community/camaraderie that I never had before. Piracy was a honourable hobby; we didn’t sell the software, we just traded it. Manuals were more valuable than the content itself. My first upgrade included an external dual-side floppy drive and memory soldered to the motherboard. The early OS ran off a 400k single side floppy, and with two drives, the user could run a fat system, one application, and store data on the 2nd. Two drives made coping software easier as well. [Note: piracy is not acceptable today. Don’t do it.]

I created my first desktop publishing documents on the Mac with MacWrite, a dot matrix printer, and a photocopier. It was the program notes for a college poetry reading. To add a little flare, I used script fonts and color paper. The organizers couldn’t believe that I had created it myself. I used my 2nd Mac Classic for low-res/low-budget typesetting in a quick print shop, WSIWYG–what you see is what you get.

At the print shop, I worked my way through college and earned a B.S. in Math. I found a job in college textbook publishing. I started as an ancillary editor, and my primary tool was an IBM Selectric typewriter. I was luckily to work with managers whose vision could see the future of desktop publishing. They adopted the Mac to replace the IBM’s. Standard forms and data collection soon followed. I moved to the in-house desktop publishing group as a tech specialist. I have a strong aptitude to troubleshoot difficult computer and software problems. Data collection led to a shared internal network; email communication replaced faxes and letters; while bulletin boards replaced paper file shipping, databases retired file cabinets. I moved again to a site-wide system administration group. As a senior analyst, I created techniques to manage our hardware/software assets, studying ROI and data warehousing. Harcourt Brace experimented with Adobe’s PDF and digital books. With PDF and the Internet the publishing’s future was obvious.

I accidentally met Mr. Jobs at MacWorld in San Francisco. Apple was rolling out five colors of iMac, and he was firmly in control of Apple recreating the brand. He was on his way to a non-Apple vendor who was selling logo watches. Jobs was visibly upset, and from his facial expressions, he must have been having a terse discussion with a marketing or merchandising manager in tow. I think the watches were one of the last vestiges of Gil Amelio’s (Apple’s previous CEO) merchandising schemes. Almost running across the exhibit hall, he stepped on my foot and almost knocked me down. He blushed, apologized, and shook my hand. His smile let out some of the steam, and I heard the two giggle as they went on their way.

Since 1984, I’ve owned two classic Macs, one Quadra, one PowerMac, one iMac, three Newtons, one Duo Doc, three iPods, four Powerbooks, and an iPad. My success with the Mac provided the opportunity to pursue my life-long dream to write fiction fulltime. I pursue this dream from a Mac Powerbook at home and an iPad on the road. I am tearful, grateful, and happy to remember a life well lived. Steve Jobs had a significant impact on my life. His vision and drive facilitated the freedom I have to chase my dreams. Thank you Steve Jobs. I will miss you.

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