When I was a young man, I loved computers. I used to hang out at Radio Shack playing with TRS-80's and learned how to program in Basic. I never thought that I could own a computer. No one could afford a TRS-80. When an Apple store opened a block away from my house all of the geeks transitioned there, hanging out in our corduroys and Jordache/Sassoon jeans typing away and programming. It was only a matter of time before all of us mustered enough courage to work night and day to purchase an Apple II computer. I still have it! It was Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who fueled the passion in us high school geeks. Although we also admired Bill Gates in the process, it was the Apple II that made us believe that we could do great things. Yes, it was only Visicalc and a crashy wordprocessor, but we created magic with the Assembler. Who can forget writing in numbers? Who remembers Peek and Poke?
My first computer job came with an Apple II+, writing a script program for an all-purpose store, showing clothing, matching colors etc. A collaborative project, it helped to pay down some of my school bills and tuition. I then began working in a really ritzy store in Manhattan, doing their accounts receivables and database programming (all primitive stuff now) for about 6 hours per week. The Apple community at that time was really close-knit. We shared code and helped each other as much as possible.
It all came to an end for me during college when everyone went to IBM PC's and I had to go with the flow or suffer! I went with the flow and literally, made no money for school, because the programming languages were so terrible. I couldn't "make magic" with a PC. So for years I held out, buying and building PC's until I finally came back to Apple in 2007. I have never looked back. It started with the purchase of an iPod for my wife two years earlier. And then the full conversion. I got back into programming again, albeit, I find OSX a lot harder than Basic or Assembler. But there is really one person to thank for that.
I found the convergence of Apple products to be more appealing than Windows. Everything just started working well together. The computers spoke to each other. Devices recognized each other immediately. Even now, when I was "forced" to use a Windows 7 machine, it could not find my printer. When I plugged in my Mac, it found the printer, the wifi - configured itself for its use, and just worked right out of the box. Yes, Windows does some of that well now, but Windows XP and Windows Vista did not. I finally found myself using my own cloud storage system. At home and away, everything just worked. I would only have to put my NAS address in once and it would find the NAS drive every time. I didn't need to sync machines etc or sign in repetitively. I have still not had a virus in 5 years on my Mac. Although I cowered and installed an antivirus system a year ago only because I couldn't convince someone in my family to stop running in Root. I did not want to press my luck.
And then I started watching the keynotes. Actually, I started watching them in 2005 and was impressed and excited by the presentations that Steve Jobs gave. They were exciting, invigorating and entertaining. I wanted a Mac. The commercials were priceless because they were so true. I eventually purchased an Intel iMac and soon got back into writing again, because I could concentrate on writing and not the process of file management. I again ran into the Apple community helping each other with problems. Open source software that was to die for. Software that actually fit a niche nicely. And of course, the CRAZIES! Ah yes, where would we be without mentioning the Crazies! The ones who make Crazy movies about the Mac and about their allegiance to Apple. The ones who stalked out the Comp-USA stores answering questions for customers that the store clerks had no idea about. The ones who now stalk Best Buy stores doing the same thing. The ones who look out for every Steve Jobs poll on Engadget and ensure that everyone votes at least twice - at home and at work. The ones who push the envelope on Macrumors, MacDailyNews, Engadget,TUAW, Appleinsider and MacWorld, asking for the impossible. The thing about the Crazies is that one guy at the helm has been listening, reading and affecting the change that they have requested (some of the times). That person has been Steve Jobs. Steve has been represented in the media as being brilliant, assertive, rude, nice, bold and certainly ground breaking. He has had a vision of personal computing that has been equaled only in Science Fiction. He has made possible that which we believed was impossible. The iPod brought paying customers to the post Napster world. He convinced record companies to pay attention to this nascient entity and they did. He brought dramatic changes to the PC by building All-In-Ones and then sped up the process by actually saying goodbye to a long time chip ally - Motorola. The Intel chip propelled the iMac to greatness and catapaulted the Macbook Pro to being the number one most requested laptop in the world. He had the vision to see what people wanted. He implemented the ideas of the Crazies slowly instead of all at once. He made it fun for anyone to play music, write books/screenplays, make movies by relying on that thing that humans do best - concentrating on creating the project. Gone was the process which made programs such as Windows Cakewalk (for music) and various video programs seem archaic. iLife made it all so simple. And above all else, it was all included in the Mac. From the day that you purchased it, you were working on your projects.
He helped to revolutionize the way in which we watch television. Purchasing episodes and seasons digitally, although the encryption was quite silly, it was a start and a position of leadership that others would run to follow. Even in music, iTunes still leads the way.
But if the revolution was in the PC, created and reaffirmed by Apple, it was the telephone that once and for all made Apple the King that it should have been 20 years ago. I have never forgotten the day, the hour, the minute that I saw the presentation for the iPhone. Steve Jobs reiteration of the three devices being simultaneously made by Apple and the revelation that all three devices were really ONE DEVICE. I remain, to this day, stunned by that presentation. It was by far the best presentation I have ever seen even 4 years later. The build up, which was literally pent up demand for a major change in the way in which we use a telephone had been going on for months. No one knew what the final product would look like. And I assure you that no one knew that it would have ONE BUTTON. It was the perfect device. Finally someone had listened. To make matters worse, the ridiculous statement by Palm about computer companies not being able to take over the phone business, made the iPhone even more coveted. Steve Jobs got it right! He understood what customers wanted in a phone. So much so that Google, Samsung and even Palm itself literally made buttonless phones and called them original. Everyone who wasn't living under a rock knew what was going on. Worse, the purchase of non-Apple look alikes were based more on cut rate pricing and giveaways rather than wants. AT&T continues to sell the iPhone 3GS above other smartphones. Verizon has finally admitted that many people bought Droids because they could not get iPhones and the sales of iPhones has proven that.
Steve Jobs is a visionary. His ability to see what customers want and to drive his engineers to the point of near impossibility and excellence has been amazing. Questions are now being asked as to whether Tim Cook, appointed CEO today will have that same vision as Steve has had for the past twenty years. Apple over the years has created some phenomenal hardware which has been closely linked with its software. That union has led it to being one of the greatest tech stories of all time. As a kid, I looked at my computer as a device that would change the world. It changed the world for me, allowing me to pay a lot of my tuition; completing projects and succeeding in this world that has become the future. Three guys were followed closely by my classmates. We watched everything that they did. It didn't matter if we were going into Medicine, Finance or Law, we followed these three guys like hawks. Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak were one of the Crazies, but only one did we look to for what was next. We watched him get thrown under the bus by the company that he founded. We watched him while he was at Nexus and wondered when he would return. And when he did, we jumped for joy. We became the Crazies. We talked about it at Christmas reunions. Some of us took longer than others to return to the Apple fold, whether we were detoured by work or school, we eventually came back. It wasn't out of some crazy loyalty that we returned. We returned because we realized that we were missing something. We missed not having to deal with The Process. We longed for the need to return back to the simplicity of doing that which we set out to do. Neither the hardware nor the software should distract us from our primary goal. We returned because of STEVE JOBS.
For making us the kids of yesteryear love science.
For making us, the kids of yesteryear, hang out in Apple Stores programming and have fun.
For making us make possible that which was once considered impossible.
For making me and my kids do our work without relying on the process.
For making my kids love programming (MIT's Scratch)
For making my wife love using a computer once again.
For making me pay for some of my tuition due to making affordable hardware (Apple II+).
For making music fun again.
For making family movie making fun again.
For making it easy to make a DVD (no mean feat in the early days) from personal film.
For making homework fun to do.
For making it easy to write custom software for kids.
For making the software less prone to viruses and other nasties.
For showing us that there is a different way to do things.
For making us quietly convince our IT departments to THINK DIFFERENT!
FOR CHANGING THE WORLD ! AND FOR MAKING US ALL THINK DIFFERENT!
S T E V E J O B S,
T H A N K Y O U.