Steve’s Legacy

Steve Jobs changed my life – literally and figuratively.  It’s been a long journey even though I feel like it’s just getting started.

My first exposure to an Apple computer was my friend Mike.  His parents owned a machining company and were using an Apple II for a bunch of business things.  We used it for games – and my, oh my, what fun those games were.  Of course they’re pitiful compared to todays games but they were outstanding for their time.

Because I couldn’t live and his parents business (though I mightily tried) I found other sources.  Even though I was in high school, I got permission to use the one (!) Apple II at the elementary school (my school was small – it was all one building) where I did my first programming by creating a Dungeons and Dragons character creator using Apple BASIC.

Then I went to college where I was surrounded by DOS machines.  It was an engineering school and these things were everywhere.  When I got drafted to publish a parents newsletter for my fraternity I discovered the two little dinky Macintosh Plus computers in the corner of the computer lab, a LaserWriter printer, and a piece of software called PageMaker.  My love affair with the Macintosh began.

And it continued to grow.  I learned PageMaker, FreeHand, and Persuasion like the back of my hand.  I worked for a company called MacTemps and made good money using those skills and worked my way through college.  While my engineering contemporaries were doing their reports and graphs by hand I was turning them in on laser printed paper.  What took them hours to prepare took me one.

I remember vividly my first Mac Plus and my first Mac SE.  I was passionate about those Mac’s.  I have no doubt my fraternity brothers were bored of me extolling the virtues of using a Mac.  Well, I was right, wasn’t I?

I went to a Mac users group conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan (circa 1988) where I saw my first 1 GB hard drive the size of a suitcase.  We were all wondering how we’d fill up a hard drive that size.  This is also the same conference where I shook Bill Gates’ hand just before he walked on stage to deliver the keynote speech (at a Mac conference remember).  Microsoft wasn’t always the anti-Apple company – MS Word and Excel were pretty slick back in those days.

Since college I’ve owned many Mac’s.  A Mac II LC (the pizza box Mac), probably something from the Performa line, a G3, a G4, a G5, several of the all-in-one iMac’s, a PowerBook laptop, a G3 laptop, a MacBook Pro, and a MacBook Air.  These machines helped convert me from an engineer to a programmer.

In my early consulting days I had a crappy Dell in the corner simply so I could use Visual Basic and Access.  Now days I simply fire up VMWare or Parallels (depending upon computer) and use Vista, Win7, XP or any number of Linux distro’s.

I resisted the iPod, at first, thinking it was a crappy name and Apple wasn’t an electronics company.  But when the iTunes music store showed up it changed my mind and how I bought music.  I now buy more music without ever leaving home.

I had resisted using a cell phone for years but finally gave in when I got married.  My cousin gave me an old HandSpring Palm phone which lasted for years.  When the iPhone came out I willingly jumped in because I figured it had to be better than the Handspring phone.  My oh my, was it ever.  I think we’ve owned every generation of phone since and I don’t leave the house without checking to see if I have keys, wallet and iPhone.

Like the iPod before it, the iPhone changed the way I purchased software.  No longer did I need to go to a store to browse software boxes.  Now, I go to an app, browse the selections, read reviews and then purchase and download it practically instantaneously.  What a game changer.

When the iPad came out there was never any question of getting it.  We were already big iPhone users and to start with several hundred apps without buying anything?  It was a no brainer.  No reason not to get it.  It’s now used daily.  It goes with us on trips (of any type) and like the iPod before it, it’s changed the way I consume books.  I now purchase books without ever going to a brick and mortar store and I read more than I did before.

So this is a big thank you to the man I consider to be the biggest tech visionary of my time.  He started from humble beginnings and created, several times, new markets where others followed.

I could certainly argue that Microsoft would not be the company it is today without the Macintosh influencing how it did Windows.  The music industry resisted online sales until Apple proved they could make money on it.  The entire cell phone industry is undergoing a complete transformation now because of the iPhone.  The tablet market is undergoing a radical shift because of the iPad.

And that’s just Apple.  Steve bought a little company called Pixar that did computer animation.  It had a string of blockbuster movies that weren’t just about the animation it was about telling the story.  Many imitators have followed.

Even before that, when he got pushed out of Apple, he never stopped trying to think outside the box.  He helped found NEXT computer.  It was an awesome computer for it’s time but too expensive and it never took off.  But it was a NEXT Computer that was the first web server.  And it was the NEXT operating system that Apple used to reinvent itself after Steve came back.

Steve Jobs unique.  He was an a**hole to some and inspired intense loyalty to others.  His leadership style was unique and he was a consummate salesman showing us not what we asked for but what we were really looking for.

He died too young.  Or, he died after accomplishing much more than most.  He did ‘insanely great things.’  And we will miss him.