Tools & Culture
Sometime in the middle of the two busiest hours of my week (during my trivia show) the word began streaming in of the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. He had stepped down the day before I had my ‘group’ interview with Apple back in August. I knew then it was the beginning of the end, but it still didn’t soften the blow of the news. 56 years of life was quite a lifetime though in the shortness of technology life of the products he helped create. Steve Jobs, 56G, not GS.
So why is this a big deal for me? Of all the words, in many of the stories that I’ve seen today that stuck out, were ‘tools & culture’. Those two things alone equates to the success of the products that changed the world.
Even in my rural upbringing my school fortunately acquired a few Apple ][e’s when I was in the 4th grade. Unbeknownst to me during the same school year the Macintosh was released, but I didn’t get my paws on one of those for quite a few years to come. I actually don’t recall doing anything more than playing some games on the Apple, The Dark Tower and the Oregon Trail are the first to come to mind. I remember in middle school hiding out in the library playing on the computer during recess instead of going outside much. Not much has changed since then.
The biggest change though came in in my junior year in high school when I took a Printing Technology course. We learned to typeset on a gigantic coder with film in it first, but then once we could prove we could master the old technology we got to sit at the Macintosh. I think it was an SE, but will I won’t forget is the first program I used to do ‘desktop publishing’ was what predated Adobe Pagemaker, Aldus PageMaker (3.0). I was in love. I had never noticed the two Macs in our computer lab till then I became enthralled with these machines by playing with fonts and finding it easier to actually type/create my own papers. On a side note one of them did not have a hard drive! The system actually ran off a set of ‘floppy disks’ that were in a case next to it. Crazy.
I only recall having limited access to Macs in college, but finally in 1997 it finally seemed financially feasible to own my very first Mac. My first? A used $500 Quadra700 that had a whopping 300MB hard drive. I had to buy an external 33Kbps dial-up modem to get online and I was set. To think that my first computer’s hard drive only had the capacity of half a CD is just mind boggling now considering my biggest hard drive now holds 2TB (and is over half full).
Around that time Apple’s future was looking grim and was kind of the laughing stock of computers. There was and always have been a mystique of using them, but the limitations were stark. I remember reading with Steve Jobs coming back to the helm and with the release of the G3 on the horizon that Apple’s future was bright and was going to be bigger than anyone’s imagination was a bit suspect, but I wanted to believe; even if Microsoft had a hand in it. 1997 seems so long ago.
In 2000 I started working at an all Mac office. I didn’t believe such a place could exist. I was so happy to get to work on a Mac daily and even better the old ones kept getting passed down to the employees and before I knew it I had access to a few Macs. I began to learn to upgrade them and to my surprise repair one. I had the option of taking a computer repair course in high school, but that seemed like rocket science. Being mechanically declined it seemed like an impossible feat that I could disassemble a computer, add things, and put it back together and it still worked. Apples continued to make me feel guilty that I wasn’t taking full advantage of my potential.
I’d like to research this but the talk of the iPhone, and I think ads were around it seemed eons before it ever came out. My original stance with cell phones (which I didn’t get my first cell phone till 2003) was “it’s a phone; it’s made to make phone calls, that’s it.” I was never a bells and whistles kinda guy. I ran into a problem though that only the iPhone could solve. I was carrying around two devices all the time that got in the way of each other. My iPod, and my cell phone. I walked a lot and listened to music all the time, but I wouldn’t hear my phone ring, or when it did I had to fumble to get out my earbuds, then reach into my pocket to get my phone. It seemed so cumbersome not only to have devices in both pockets, but switching between the two. Finally Sprint pissed me off, the 3G had come out, and finally the greatest gadget of all-time was my new lifeline.
By this time, I had a G4 desktop, a G4 iBook, an iPod Mini, an iPhone 3G, PLUS, I had got both my sisters started on Mac and keeping them upgraded as well. The only thing missing was working for Apple.
I never felt good enough to work for Apple. My first time applying was pre-iPhone and the Apple store was still rather a novelty. One of the greatest days of my life was having a phone interview with Apple and telling me about going to California to train. From what I understood I had the job and to this day don’t know what happened. My contact went cold, and I was left heartbroken. My sister recently told me after I spent a few weeks working on her dying iBook “why I’m not working for Apple?” Probably because I was still heartbroken, but I gave it another shot. I was passed again, but I’m still positive at the moment. I’d love to be your Genius at the bar.
I’m not one to stand in line for a new product. Though my 3G has nearly come to a halt and it’s way past due to upgrade; I’ve always been the one to suck every bit of value out of a product, and would rather let everyone figure out and deal with all the new bugs before I get my hands on it. It’s so ironic that in the week that Apple fans (including myself) let out this collective meh in regards to the 4GS release that Steve Jobs passed. Hopefully it’s not an omen to the future innovations and vision at Apple (which I think is doubtful), but it’ll always be fun to watch how our music, internet, and lives will change with technology.
If it wasn’t so warm today (or I really I had somewhere to go today) I was going to wear a black turtleneck and jeans. I think the best tribute to Steve though is to continue thinking different. iWill.