— Buenos Aires, Argentina
Steve Jobs died today, and I took the news as if a family member had passed. Like so many people, I learned the news on an Apple device, and feel this world is a lot poorer for no longer having him in it.
I can very confidently say my life wouldn’t be anything like what it is now without Steve Jobs. When I was a kid, my friend had an Apple IIc, which we would play when I went over to his house. And it was cool for games. But what was a pivotal moment in my life was when my dad took me to a local computer store in San Diego in 1984 and I got my first glimpse of the Macintosh. I remember hamfistedly drawing some balloon-shapes filled with that gray diamond pattern in MacPaint and thinking it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.
Since then, my life has been intertwined with Apple’s. Nearly every job I’ve ever had has been related to computers. From setting up Macs at a computer lab when I was 13 years old to doing rudimentary computer-generated graphics for the film and video magnet school I attended, on up through university. The last course I took at UCLA film school was called Digital Storytelling, in their brand new Media Lab. I wrote a HyperCard app that would randomly cut together pieces of video and audio, so that every viewing would produce a different work. That was on like an old Mac Quadra.
That class changed the course of my life, as I skipped Hollywood and the film industry and dove into computers. My first job out of college, at this really crappy direct marketing company, involved creating 3D animations and editing digital video on a PowerMac 7200 with 32MB of RAM. I would literally set up Adobe Premiere to render a preview and have a couple hours to kill, since there was only one Mac at the whole company, and MacOS didn’t multitask. So while waiting for my videos to render, I would read books on HTML and design.
My first major purchase from that job was a PowerMac 8500. This was back when a Steve-less Apple still made beige towers with the rainbow-colored logo on them. I would do the math on a weekly basis to figure out how many more paychecks before I could buy my Mac.
When Steve returned to Apple, the news was like something out of a movie. I had, like many, been preparing myself for an Apple purchase of Be, Inc., so had installed that OS on the Mac clone at my new job. The purchase of NeXT seemed desperate to me, the politics (as best I understood them from waaaay on the outside) seemed like Jobs had orchestrated a takeover of Apple.
Then the first iMac came out. I mirrored my childhood by going down to the local computer store (this was still well before any Apple Store existed) and waiting in line to play with one. I didn’t care for the round mouse, but you could tell this was something different.
When the iPod came out, I had some money in my brokerage account, and bought a number shares of AAPL. Adjusted for splits, that was at about $11/share. At the market’s close today, shares were selling at $378. Even without that investment, I would have rooted for Apple at every turn this past decade – the imagination and quality of their products has left everyone else in the last century.
So I sit typing this on my brand new MacBook Air, checking it on a Webkit browser from an apartment in Buenos Aires. My iPhone 4 is charging. My original iPad is within reach. I’m listening to music that I purchased legally over the internet because it was easier than downloading for free. You’re reading this in a non-standard typeface on a computer. All of this was because of Steve.