I heard the news as I sat in Natty Greene’s. I had just somewhat embarrassed myself by complimenting our adorable twenty-something waitress on her hairstyle, which kind of caused her to pause as she admitted that she had just gotten it cut that way yesterday.
“Michelle says that Steve Jobs has died.” said Joe.
“What? Aw damn.” I said.
Fifty-six is too young for someone who changed the world, and whose work definitely changed me.
My first interaction with computers came in the late 1970s, early 1980s when my cousin Joe took me into the Clearwater High School computer room and we played around with a DEC Writer (monitor-less computer).
My first computer was a Apple //e, purchased from Ray’s TV in Clearwater Florida. I think my Apple //e with green-screen monitor, duo 5.25″ disk drive system, and a Okidata dot matrix printer cost “me” (I may have had a lot of help from my parents) about $1500. I have the receipt stored away somewhere and should really find the actual cost when I return home. When we purchased this computer I had been using Apples in high school, and had been lusting over them a place called Computerworld (which also sold Osborne “portable” computers at that time).
I learned to program Basic. I learned a smidgeon of Apple Assembly, but not enough to be considered a nerd at that time. I should have tried to become a Computer Science major when I first entered junior college, but I wavered and spent some time getting a bachelor degree in Chemistry before righting my personal ship and staying in school and earning a bachelor degree in Computer Science.
By the time I had graduated college (just about twenty years ago as I admitted last week) I had become an IBM-compatible, Windows man. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to remain an Apple devotee (in fact I lusted for the computers created by Steve Jobs’ “new” company NeXT), but as a poor college student I couldn’t afford Apple’s products then.
I can’t remember if I finally returned to Apple’s fold in 2005 or 2006 (Anyone remember when I visited Chicago? I purchased that computer just before taking that trip.) when I purchased a 12″ iBook. I had gotten frustrated running Windows security updates and virus scans and when my CRT died I took that opportunity to leave the Windows world.
It was just before Steve Jobs took his first medical leave that I became an Apple shareholder. At that time AAPL was trading in the $90/share range. While I won’t become wealthy off my decision to invest at that time, Steve Jobs’ vision helped me make a fair bit of cash that I will use to better my house, if not myself.
My iPhone 4 is wonderful and I love my first-generation iPad — on which I am writing this blog with the cooperation of Apple’s bluetooth keyboard. Simply amazing.
I don’t shed many tears but I shed one last night for a man I never met. His work had been an integral force at making me what I am today and for that I shall always be thankful.