Steve and Me

A not-so brief history of my off and on encounters with Steve Jobs and his creations.

1979
I was first introduced to this guy named Steve in 9th grade. It was in science class, a curriculum that covered the extreme basics of chemistry, biology, physics, and the like. Kind of like the Discovery Channel, in real life, and Mr. Wizard. We were doing a lesson module on computers. Our school had a grand total of 4; three Tandy (Radio Shack) TRS-80s, and this other machine called an Apple II. The instructor, an obvious technophile who really didn’t want to teach Junior High Science, used this Apple thing to teach and demonstrate BASIC programming, while the students plugged along on the TRS-80s. The teacher demonstrated how, with this new thing called a “personal computer” you could not only do math, but draw things, write documents and even program it yourself! This thing was definitely better than my Atari 2600. I wanted one.

Not only did we do lots of hands on stuff, but we also learned about various persons and companies involved in computers, both personal and mainframe, and certain people that were considered to be important to their development. Steve and his buddy Steve came up more than once in the lessons. I saved and saved, and eventually was able to purchase a PC. Unfortunately, Steve’s stuff was a bit too expensive, so I had to settle for the TRS-80, cassette drive and all.

1980’s
Through high school, I ran across Steve’s stuff here and there. I remember going to the Fredrick&Nelson’s (a Division of Marshal Fields) and seeing this little beige box with a small screen, keyboard, and this little puck-like thing attached. I was mesmerized. The sales guy, not from the store, was giving a demo on what this thing could do. He pushed a key and the thing SPOKE! I mean, not like the old Speak and Spell, but in clear, plain English. Compared to my Trash-80, as I and most of my friends called it, this thing was like, from the future. Something from Star Wars or something. Cool Steve! I really really want one. But at $2500, there was no way I could afford, or talk my folks into one. Dad had seen a few of these in his office, but never used one. After all, he had a secretary to do the typing. Why would HE need a Macintosh? I can still remember going to that store, every chance I could, to look and play with Steve’s beige box hoping someday I would have one.

High School came and went, off to college and, once again I found myself in computer classes. IBM and Microsoft were THE standard for anyone who took the PC seriously. In face, now that they were affordable enough for some students to afford, professors were specifying that reports, programs, etc, had to be turned in in MS compatible format. Our dorm had a few PCs for general use and one, lonely Franklin (an Apple II clone). Frank, (as we computer nerds called it) played text and graphics games, ran spreadsheets, word processing, and a host of other things without crashing. Frank didn’t get used for “real” work though, due to the IBM/MS edict. A few of my friends had Steve’s Mac or Apple computers in their dorm rooms, where everyone hung out. I, due to finances, had an IBM XT clone in my room, where no one hung out. So college came and went as well. My association with Steve was that of a fan and follower but, due to finances and where industry was going, not an adopter.

1990’s
I remember visiting the parents after being on my own. I had been working for a couple, three, years and had upgraded PCs, discovered the Internet, and was subscribing to both PC and Mac publications. My little brother dragged me into his room to show me something Dad had brought him for an early Christmas present. I almost fainted. Sitting on my baby brother’s desk was a semi-used Macintosh LC. It had just been taken out of the box and wasn’t hooked up yet. Turns out my Dad’s company had excesses them when they had converted to IBM and MS machines. My dad bought one for my bro because the price was “finally reasonable for a toy.” With little or no help from me, my brother had the thing up and running in less than a half hour. He was 12 at the time. I offered to trade him my new PC strait across. No dice. Steve had finally made it into my house, which I had moved out of 2 years ago.

I kept in touch with Steve and his goings on. Even when he wasn’t working for the company he founded, I was glad that I could support him by going to the movies his other company made. As for the new, new computer company’s stuff? No way. That stuff was even more expensive than the beige boxes. He eventually went back to his original company, I remember reading about it on an AOL newsgroup. He was doing well. Good for him.

Early 2000’s
My father called, all retired by now and asked me for my email address. My what? Dad wants MY email? Dad doesn’t have a computer, does he? Turns out he had just bought one. From Steve! My dad, had bought one of the original iMacs, you know, the ones that came in any color as long as it was Bondi Blue. Apparently, with his retirement, he had taken on some offices in the community he and mom now lived and has to use email, calendar and do some light word processing. There was a Mac computer club there and he had sat in on a couple of meetings and then went to the nearby university and bought one. Now $1300 of my inheritance seemed still a bit expensive compared to the $700 I just put down on a new Dell, but dad was happy and I didn’t have to be tech support. Turns out no one did. I was learning that more of Steve’s wonderful products were infiltrating my family. My dad and my two brothers were Mac users now. I, the Mac champion of old, when Macs weren’t cool, was the only one who didn’t own one! Forgive me Steve for I’ve been a sinnin’. I still just can’t afford your coolness. I’d drive your store in Glendale (over an hour), to look and yearn for one of your shiny new machines with the same intensity that I did when I was a small boy marveling at the little beige box that talked. I know your stuff is better, more reliable, just works, yeah, yeah, yeah. Still luv yah man!

2005
My Dell died. I didn’t even try to fix it. I’m coming Steve! I’m bringing money this time! I was the proudest owner of a base model iBook sporting OS X Tiger. I took it home, plugged it into the wall, turned it on, and was surfing the web in less than 10 minutes. I finally realized, sadly, what I’d been missing. Steve continued to impress with new stuff every year. I was part of the magic now. I even visited the Mother Ship. Steve wasn’t in that day though.

August 2011
Steve is retiring, his illness is a factor in executing day to day duties. He looks like he needs a rest. He’s still advising and is on the board though. He’s been dealing with this thing since 2005 or so? Hope all is OK and that he’ll show up once in a while either doing something great or just at an Apple event. I sent him an email, doubt he’ll read or even receive it, but it makes ME feel a bit better.

05 October 2011
Steve died today. The day after Mr. Cook announced another great innovation to Steve’s company’s products. Off to the Apple Store, where I bought my 1st Mac to light a candle.

08 October 2011
As I sit here writing this on my iPad, while listening to another memorial podcast on my iPhone, and glancing on my Twitter feed on my MacBook, I realize that, for a kid who was somewhat of an outsider, Steve was a hero to me in an era where there weren’t many to choose from. I’m talking about folks that young kids should try to be like. I’m not talking about one name celebs, like Jay-Lo, Gaga, Chaz, Michael, Justin, Madonna, Sting, Bono or even Johnny. I’m talking about folks who made a difference that has lasted. One name folks like Gates, Woz, Kawasaki, Ellis, Turner, Dell, Ivar (Seattle restauranteur and philanthropist), and of course Steve. Truly the man, the myth, the legend.

09 October 2011
Just saw a video of the iPhone 4S running the Siri application. Hey! This little box from Steve talks too! Does it come in beige? It should… That would be a nice touch of class. Steve might have liked that.

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One Comment on “Steve and Me”

  1. stana2z Says:

    Reblogged this on Stan A-Z's Blog and commented:

    One year since he left us. Please RIP Steve. Don’t worry, we got it…


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