For Steve

Here I am, days after I was born, being held by my father in front of the family Macintosh.

Our family has spent an enormous amount of time and effort growing with Apple. My brother and I spent years playing with Kid Pix and Shufflepuck Café. We stayed up late reading through the manuals for Myst and plotting our progress in the provided journal. We collected the bunnies in Power Pete.

My dad bought the iLife suite as soon as it came out. It was a regular joke at home that we were "living the iLIFE!" I made videos for class. We started saving photos on the computer and sharing them with family. Recently, my dad finished scanning all our family photos and videos. It's an invaluable gift to be able to smoothly find photos of my parents' wedding, or to watch my brother being silly at the kitchen table before a cub scout meeting.

When I chose to go to boarding school in northern Maine for my last two years of high school, I bought my first iMac to celebrate. I would never have survived the unexpected challenges of living with a hundred other students surrounded by fifteen feet of snow had I not been able to retreat online and to talk to my mom on iChat on a daily basis. I still IM my mom nearly every day.

And when things went wrong, it was okay to expect perfection from Apple. They made things right for us, every time. We knew Steve– through his company –would take care of us. They replaced computers for us, gave us time and space at the stores when we needed it, and patiently answered our questions or let us vent. When I was too far away to bring my computer into a store, they sent a repairman straight to my bedroom to fix it there. Three times.

I have long felt the details and deep thought that goes into these experiences. This guided experience has made me appreciate technology and business for what it can be, and the good beyond itself that it can do. This touch towards the better and the flexibility and tools for others to expand upon it. The reassurance that someone I trust has held everything to the highest standard. I value this even more now that I work with tech professionally.

Last night the employees at the 1 Stockton Street Apple Store gave me space to mourn, and a place at their table to upload my photos so I could share that process with Boing Boing's Twitter followers. I am deeply grateful to them for that. I am also enormously grateful to Boing Boing for helping me to see my idol, a man I consider practically a family member although I never said one word to him, the last few times he appeared publicly.

I return Boing Boing back to its normal design now, and as a company we end our vigil. Now we must all pick up that uncompromising care for beauty and excellence and push the world forward ourselves.


  1.  If Jobs had been able to
    produce his ‘amazing products’ with sustainable labor and environmental
    practices, then I think we would be justified in celebrating his
    genius. The fact is, he couldn’t do that, and those ‘amazing devices’
    were made with slave labor, in an environmentally unsustainable way, so
    his genius, isn’t so much for progress as it is in gaming the system and
    exploiting other people.

    1. Hey David Gill, when did you switch? As long as I’ve known you, you’ve always bought Macs.

      1. Still got a mac mini at home, not for long, and picked an android phone over an iphone when the Chinese labor started trying to off themselves, buddy. 

        1. Chances are your android phone was made by Foxconn too.  Get off your high horse, I think the thin air is damaging your brain cells. 

        2. Dave, you deserve this copypasta and you should be ashamed of yourself:

          Simple math has recently proven that Foxconn workers are actually happier than the general population! Here are the statistics.

          Recently, it was discovered that there had been 10 suicides at Foxconn this year. This being out of 486,000 workers, translates to roughly 2 suicides out of 100,000. This shows that the suicide rate is 2 out of 100,000 for workers of Foxconn.

          The latest Taiwanese Suicide Rate publicized (in 1999) has shown that the suicide rate for The People’s Republic of China is 22.5 suicides out of 100,000 people every year.

          Given that the suicide rate may have changed since then, it would be of interest to compare it to the United States of America suicide rate, last publicized in 2002. The suicide rate in the United States of America is 11.0 suicides out of 100,000 people every year.

          Still a far cry from 2 suicides.

          Given that the year is not yet over (as the recent articles mention 10 suicides as of this year), it is not conclusive. However, given that the trend continues in the exact same pattern (A suicide rate of 2 out of 100,000 in 145 days of the year), it is safe to conclude, with a small margin of error, that the year will conclude with a suicide rate of just over 5 for Foxconn employees.

          STILL lower than 10 in the United States of America, and FAR lower than 22.5 for the general population of the People’s Republic of China.

          source with links/references to that stats:

        3. What a noble stand you take. You only own one product that was “made with slave labor, in an environmentally unsustainable way”. Pray tell my highly-ethical fellow, what manufacturer of “android phone” did you choose? There’s a good chance the components or device were made in a Foxconn factory.

          The anti-fanboi breed is just as disgusting as the fanboi breed, but in this case the the anti-fanboy breed seem unable to distinguish between a corporation and a man. A man who, if you’d ever bothered to read the history, did great things in his time. You can (and I do) hate aspects of Apple’s current products and policies, but you are an ignorant moron if you cannot understand what contributions Steve Jobs made to the world of computing and technology (and to making these things accessible and cool objects in our everyday lives, instead of abstract and non-intuitive machines that lived in labs).

    2. You’re using a personal computer, right? Are you using a windowed operating system? I bet you are! Who do you have to thank for these things? Apple. Who do you have to thank for Apple…?

      1. Eh? Apple invented neither the personal computer, nor the windowed operating system. They may have been the first to put them together, but that’s a different matter. Jobs was a genius at perfecting designs, and knowing when to push new technologies, but that does not mean he invented everything. In fact, the list of devices that Apple actually invented is pretty small. They just did it better than their competitors.

        1. Just because you have a gripe with Apple does not excuse you showing up at a wake to trash-talk the deceased.  Don’t post in this thread again.

          1. I know! Where’s the respect?

            If you’re gonna criticise anything it should be that Dean Putney’s dad is a left-handed

          2. The left-handed mouser thing of Dad Putney was annoying for the first few years. Now I’m ambimousterous!

    3. Oh please!

      a) Foxconn is responsible for the conditions at Foxconn.

      b) Foxconn has a huge list of clients, Apple being just one of them.
      Rest assured that your favourite mega-gadgeteer is on that bloody list as well.

      c) My experience tells me that people giving me that speech tend to forget how to even spell the name Foxconn when hunting for high tech bargains on the net or in shops.
      When it comes to their own money, morals go right out the window.
      You could have taken the pricedifference between the last gadget you bought and  a similar Apple device, put it in an envelope and send it over to foxconn, making sure that they would get their fair share. Let me take a wild guess. You didn’t. Of course!
      So my guess is, you are not nuts!
      But you are also not as ethics-driven as you would like to appear.
      My experience is also telling me that people who consider Apple’s products as being too expensive, are leaving the impression that they rather take advantage of the “slave labor” themselves, than paying the allegedly higher price to make sure the poor chinese worker gets what he deserves.

      Stop going all Robin Hood on everybody’s ass while trying to sneak out your cut under your cape.

      Foxconn should definitely change the working conditions. Yes!
      And if clients could use their power to achieve that change they should do that.
      But frankly, I don’t see that happen any time soon.

      The first CEO to shell out a few million extra bucks for a free lunch and fresh towels at Foxconn will have a serious word with his stockholders and a set of brandnew cardboxes in his office.

      Listen, you are welcome to hate Apple and their products from the depth of your heart for the rest of your life (if your stomach can take it).
      But how about some old fashioned sincerity once in a while?

  2. I feel a mixture of wonder, joy, and bitter jealously at that picture.

    I remember the frustration of trying to explain to my parents, in the late 70s, why I wanted a computer. And how a computer was different than the perfectly good pocket calculator they’d just gotten me two years earlier.

    Now, thanks in large part to Apple, we’ve got a whole generation of people who grew up with the things.

    1. I remember the frustration of trying to explain to my parents, in the late 70s, why I wanted a computer.

      We didn’t even get our first television until I was two.  I’m a fossil.

  3. @ David Gill:  I disagree.  The nation was ready for these devices and unaware of these practices in years past.  Now that we are aware, we will see shifts towards friendlier technologies.  The market will demand it.

    Steve Jobs did a lot of good.  Brought a lot of people together.  I have a lot of memories of MacWorld shows and Keynote speeches, and Macs I owned through the years: an Apple IIc, a Mac IICX, a Mac IICI, an SE/30, one each of every titanium/aluminum laptop since 2000.  These devices and the guy behind them changed my life for the better.

    1. This experience is thoroughly American centric. In America and other nations there were alternatives. The Amiga was graphical for a very long time and a very capable device. The same kinds of applications existed on it.

      I also don’t appreciate everyone’s bashing of the fundamental components of OSX. FreeBSD worked, KHTML worked, Mach worked. Yet no credit to those engineers? Furthermore there’s no credit given to all of the bright souls who surrounded and enabled Steve. So if you’re remembering Steve, remember HIM. Don’t attribute to him the fruits of poor uncredited engineers. He didn’t do that part, and you should know better.

      1. If repackaging crap as nectar is such an easy task, why aren’t there a thousand Steve Jobses?  A hundred?  Another one?  That’s because it wasn’t just repackaged.  It was much more.

        He wanted a PDA handheld device.  Had drawings of it and many discussions of it for many years, starting in the late 80’s.  He saw it through from vision to production, incarnated in various forms: from Newton to the iPods, to the iPhone, to the iPad… and who the hell knows what’s next.

        Not only the devices themselves, but the assemblage and overall management of the teams that made them.  Starting with his work with Woz, through all the good years and bad years, to NeXT, and back to Apple, he shepherded the creation of amazing tools.  Could he solder a chip?  Probably not.  But did he know what he wanted and how to get there and get other people to help him get there?  Yes, and yes and yes.

        The point is that no one person can take credit for all of it.  But the spearhead at the front, this guy Steve Jobs, who was always pushing these cute little devices at us for the last 35 years… he deserves most of that credit, if only for keeping the faith.

  4. Right there with you, Dean. When I was studying abroad in the UK, I had my credit card information stolen and my PowerBook commit suicide in the same week. With a bit of cash wired from my parents, I brought my much-loved machine to one of the London Apple stores. I left the computer with them, hoping that even two years out of warranty, repairs wouldn’t be too expensive (ha). I loathed to ask, but my dad offered to pay for them from the US with a credit card number over the phone. When I got back to the store, they’d replaced my HD, motherboard, and given me new RAM. Free. Because they could. I’ve been thinking a lot over the last day about the immense outpouring of love for Steve, and why him, why not others. He knew the way to our hearts. For me, it was a few hundred bucks worth of equipment that made my last few months of a lonely semester infinitely more bearable. I hope his peers (and ours) learn from his example.

  5. (must… not… feed … trolls …)

    Dean – an excellent tribute to someone who – regardless of criticism voiced above – truly changed the world. 

  6. Seriously, now. Any and every death is a sad event, but this sort of eulogies are really going too far.

    All the nice things mr. Putney did with his Apple products are simply the normal usage of any computer post-1980s, there is no magic in that.
    The apparently incredible assistance described is called customer support. Every hardware firm does it.
    Face it: Apple is just another soulless corporation, and a pretty greedy and dictatorial to boot.

    And most important of all: Steve Jobs didn’t “do” one single thing of the supposed miracles sung in these days. He was a CEO. Didn’t design the hardware, didn’t write the ads, didn’t direct the Pixar movies, didn’t build the things, nor write the software or anything. He just coordinated an army of managers, and he performed some very good presentations – which were so good simply because everybody else in the industry has no stage skills (really engaging stage talks are called “acting”, and are invariably better than any Jobs’ presentation).

    There is no reason to ruin a good imaginary character remembering the true tales of his very real faults… but showing a little old-fashioned good sense – especially on this science-positive and fact-friendly website – would be nice.

  7. A lot of people clearly have no idea what executives at corporations do.  That’s fine.  Be ignorant.  But to say the key executive at one of the key computer companies in all of history cannot be thanked for his singular, yes, singular contributions to the industry, well, you’re simply ignorant.  He didn’t need to invent anything (although if you knew how involved he was in many of these inventions, you’d likely take that all back).  He ENABLED them, he brought them together, and that is every bit as important, if not MORE important, than being the guy to cable it all up.

  8. Ayzad: The apparently incredible assistance described is called customer support. Every hardware firm does it.

    Sadly, no. I’ve dealt with what passes for customer support from other PC manufacturers. Apple’s commitment to good customer service is really exceptional for the industry.

    1. I stand corrected. Let me rephrase it as: “Every hardware firm making you pay such exorbitant premium prices for its products does it”.

  9. Yesterday, Fred Shuttlesworth died.

    Nobody noticed. There were other distractions.

    Fred Shuttlesworth was cofounder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, along with Martin Luther King, Jr.

    In 1957, he attempted to enroll his children in a previously all white school in Birmingham, Alabama. A mob of Klansmen attacked them just as the police evaporated. One of his assailants was also involved in the 16  St. Baptist Church bombing, and beat Shuttlesworth unconscious with chains and brass knuckles while his wife was being repeatedly stabbed. A year later, a bomb was planted in his church but moved out to the street by an alert parishioner.

    Shuttlesworth organized lunch counter sit ins in 1960, and organized and participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961. He and his posse of deacons collected and sheltered the Riders after they were brutally beaten in Birmingham and Anniston.

    Fred Shuttlesworth was the person to whom Robert Kennedy gave his personal phone number in case the Freedom Riders needed Federal support.

    Diane Nash, a student activist and organizer of later waves of Freedom Rides, said of Shuttlesworth: “Fred was practically a legend. I think it was important – for me, definitely, and for a city of people who were carrying on a movement – for there to be somebody that really represented strength, and that’s certainly what Fred did. He would not back down, and you could count on it. He would not sell out, [and] you could count on that.”

    In 1964, he went to St. Augustine, Florida, and organized and participated in the beach wade-ins that, along with his Birmingham campaign, led directly to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1965, he was on the march to Selma that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

    Yesterday, Fred Shuttlesworth died at the age of 89 in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced that it intends to include Shuttlesworth’s burial site on the Civil Rights History Trail.

    Steve Jobs built a phone.

    1. pjcamp, so I’m sure you’re very busy working on a tribute website to honor Fred Shuttlesworth.  When will that be ready?

      Steve Jobs built a phone.

      And you have built an obtuse post that ignores what Steve enabled for society far beyond his work with “building phones”.  Congrats.

    2. Yesterday, Fred Shuttlesworth died.Nobody noticed.

      There were other distractions.

      Bit of a straw-man, really.

      Driving home from work the other day I was listening to All Things Considered, and they broadcast a very long, detailed tribute to Shettlesworrh. And as far as I can remember, I didn’t hear any mention of Jobs on the drive.

      So I’m not really sure who the “nobody” is. Maybe your freinds didn’t notice, but rest assured that many, many people did.

  10. I kinda feel bad for Bill Gates.  His has been by far the more successful company, measured strictly in terms of dollars, but I suspect there will be nothing like this outpouring of grief and condolences when he passes.  I guess it’s the difference between a businessman — even the consummate shrewd businessman — and a visionary. 

    1. Don’t feel bad for Bill Gates, Doug. Bill is still alive, breathing air, tasting food, receiving the warmth of his family and friends. Steve, wherever he is, no longer has that luxury. I think Bill long ago came to terms with his place, and has moved onto his charity work to fill his life with a different kind of purpose.

    2. I kinda feel bad for Bill Gates.  His has been by far the more successful company, measured strictly in terms of dollars, but I suspect there will be nothing like this outpouring of grief and condolences when he passes.  I guess it’s the difference between a businessman — even the consummate shrewd businessman — and a visionary.

      I thought of that too.  The problem for Gates is that many of us who’ve been within the IT sector for many years know how much damage he’s caused to society through his massive anti-competitive practices that squashed and slowed innovation worldwide.

      Gates has cost society far more money than he’s given back to charity.  I don’t know if most people will ever understand this and that’s a tragedy for humankind, because it’s being repeated over and over again until we’ve ended up where we are today in an aristocracy filled with giant corporatist mergers – and less and less power as a self-determined people.

      Some outside of the IT sector (and some inside it as well) may never understand how Jobs was actually a subversive that was truly bringing “power to the people” in many of his endeavors.  Was Steve Jobs a corporatist megalomaniac?  Yes.  But, unlike many others… in many cases, he was basically our mole on the inside.

      Jobs was far from perfect, and that’s how humans are, yet he helped set things in motion that are forever bridging average people with powerful tools to change things and this was obviously a very conscious decision on his part.

      Jobs was also (by proxy and otherwise) involved in lots of stuff behind the scenes with his wife and organizations they supported and/or belonged to.  Some may be surprised to know that (sometimes Apple detractor) Cory Doctorow has ties to an organization the Jobs family supports, but I digress.

      The question is, are we going to keep running with this power we unwashed masses have acquired or piss it away?

      Thank you, Steve and thank you, Laurene Powell Jobs.

      And,  on a side note, Steve has some of his heart still walking around… his children.  Who’s to say that genius didn’t rub off on the kids?  Maybe one of them will one day be the next CEO of a company that changes things.  Maybe even Apple?  Life goes on, folks.  :)

      1. Wow, so if I’m following this correctly…Jobs was secretly trying to save the world by selling us iThings and his arch-nemesis, Gates was secretly trying to destroy the world with lackluster operating systems. It all makes so much sense now.

        Is this truly the evolution of fanboyism? Do the protagonists get elevated to GOD (or demon) status upon death?

        Gates is not trying to kill you. Jobs didn’t SECRETLY have your best interest at heart. They were both just trying to sell shit the best way they knew how. Life goes on, folks. :)

        1. Wow, so if I’m following this correctly…Jobs was secretly trying to save the world by selling us iThings and his arch-nemesis, Gates was secretly trying to destroy the world with lackluster operating systems. It all makes so much sense now.

          You followed me incorrectly to an almost comedic effect. But more sad than funny, really.

  11. Beautiful picture. Here’s mine, Father’s Day, 2003:

    I met Fred Shuttlesworth after his a talk at UA-Fayetteville’s MLK day a few years earlier, and I’ve met other civil rights workers over the years. There’s a power, a beautiful weight to their presence.

  12. I came here to trash Apple and their policies because that’s an appropriate response when someone writes a tribute to the deceased.  I also came here to champion someone completely unrelated to this post because it’s not about that person, and I want it to be.

    But others have covered those things for me.

    So I’ll simply say: nice tribute, Dean, and I feel much the same as you do about Apple and Steve.

  13. My second computer was a Mac Plus. A huge, huge leap over my first computer, an Atari 800. Somehow I convinced my mom to get one after using my friend’s Mac. It just seemed like magic, so far ahead of  DOS-based computers of the time, much the way I felt when first using the iPhone. The Mac Plus came with a floppy disk designed to ease people into life with a GUI. Remember, this was a completely foreign concept for those outside research labs. No one had even seen a mouse back then. So the disk had tutorials in how to use one.

    I must admit, the Mac OS, and I guess the company, has gotten very serious in its recent years, but back then it really felt like you were part of a technological revolution, but a lighthearted one. It felt like Apple and its community were all on the same team. The Mac OS used to come with MacPaint, and I used that to design a letterhead logo for my mom’s company with only a mouse.  And HyperCard…I built whole RPGs with it. I hacked the OS with ResEdit to slim it down enough to run MultiFinder on the 1MB RAM the Plus came with.  I used that Mac Plus and the ImageWriter printer into college, until it died during a hot summer without A/C (the Mac Plus had no internal fan).  So thank you Steve, for giving me a new tool to create with. Thanks for the vision and the balls to take on calcified ideas because you believed in yourself enough.

  14. thanks dean for your post. i really enjoyed reading it.
    in some ways my experience has been similar… except i am twice your age.

  15. Shufflepuck Café! I have not thought about that in years..I used to play that on my brothers Mac when he brought it back from college. Apple was just a little ahead of everyone else in technology, and I hope this will always be, as a friend of my said “Thanks
    Steve Jobs. You freed the world from a MS Dos hell and you took
    something meant to be pragmatic and proved it could be whimsical”

  16. Kid Pix on our family LCII got me into the world of design. I was so proud of the things I did with it. My mom was an on-and-off self employed graphic designer for my whole adolescence(and still today.) I remember learning lessons from her at 6-10 years old and trying to incorporate them into what I did.
    I’ll give you that I’m not a great(or even good, just decent) graphic designer today, but the fundamentals instilled in me partially from this evolution of products makes me a huge asset and a (now, more than)credible critic to some of my best friends, the majority of which ARE graphic/interactive designers, in some form or another.
    I have to give thanks to Steve Jobs for giving me the best 4th-12th grade visual projects of anyone in my school district and for making things that always JUST F***ING WORK.

    1. Yeah, as a kid at dawn of the Mac there weren’t a lot of really cool games… but during the time Dean’s talking about there were a lot of great games for the Mac: Pathways into Darkness, Marathon, Spectre… and that’s just the 3D stuff.

      Also, you realize Castle Wolfenstein was an Apple ][ game originally? We had 4 huge boxes of pirated floppies for Apple ][ games… man, I think it wasn’t until I started getting free and cheap games on iOS that I ever had as many games again as we had back in those early days.

  17. Jobs swayed the world into better more useable and useful technologies.

    Imagine a PC only world – eeurgh.  Without Apple, even it the dark years, the PC would be years behind its current years-behind position.  Without the dangerous competition of Apple, the PC world would have squeezed our lemons until the pips squeaked.

    Jobs’ insistence on excellent products had the impact of crystallising into reality and stores things that always stepped beyond the near-term development curve.  Not necessarily as transformational as say the Walkman, or transistor radios, but by gathering and aggregating into lovely-to-use things, he was the vanguard of development, and helped push forward the research that would drive that in the future.

    Consider MP3 players – the first commercial version I recall was the Rio, circa … 1998?  I remember thinking “no, inadequate storage, but great idea, and it will clearly develop”.  When Apple delivered the ipod and itunes, they delivered the intangible delivery of music in a complete and unassailable way.  That’s what he did so well – and only an uncompromising drive for excellence can do that.

    Everyone else would fold in front of investors and say ‘whatever, we’ll deliver half the cool stuff and ensure we safely meet the cashflow you need’.  Apple were able to deliver the future, invest funds to do it without safety nets, and have become better and better at it over time (we must demand they continue).  They bewitch investors, but they know what they’re doing.

    Akin to scifi writers, they can absorb the current world of tech and understand the flows and desires, predict what will succeed, and give it to us in near-perfect form within the restrictions of the paradigm of technologies the best in the world can access.

    Mac II was my first play, and i loved it.  Logan’s Run!  At school, I sought out the Mac lab for my (non-tech) work – I could properly draw and edit graphs for dissertations.  Now my Mac world is bigger, and as I work daily with PCs, I constantly know and feel the difference.  Mac does what it says on the tin.  PC’s don’t.

    SJ wasn’t a saint (he was unkind to at least one person in his family), but in my mind he combines Andreas Pavel, Arthur C Clark and Turing.  To name a few.

    Great man, sad goodbye.

  18. One decision that Jobs made could be considered one of the most critical in personal computing, and that was changing his mind about the way the Macintosh should operate. When it was first conceived by Jef Raskin, it was a far simpler computer to build but still requiring some skill to operate. When Jobs saw the Xerox GUI’s, he said, “I want that!” And he got it, first in the very expensive Lisa ($10,000… in 1983 dollars!) followed by the must less expensive (though still pricey at $2495 in 1984 dollars). 
    I wonder if the GUI in the form we know and love (or hate) would have even evolved for consumers at all.

    1. Sorry, no. This isn’t something we can implement on a user-account basis. You can, however, find the theme available on blogs as of today:

  19. Well said Dean.  As usual, the people who don’t “get it” are clearly PC users.  Kudos to your parents for rearing you in a Mac environment where your imagination, creativity and productivity could develop and flourish without all the viruses, frustration and down-time that PC households just tolerate and live with.

    1. As usual, the people who don’t “get it” are clearly PC users.

      Many PC users don’t remember what “using a computer” meant before Apple pushed the Graphic User Interface into the market (and Windows copied it). When I was a kid the ability to “use a computer” meant you were some kind of code geek, not someone who could point and click something on a desktop. Computers are so user-friendly now that admitting you don’t know how to use one is to invite scorn or pity. Remember when McCain said he didn’t use a computer? It made him look like an out-of-touch fossil.

      A lot of the things we take for granted in any halfway decent system- a GUI, mouse, variable width typefaces, etc. all seem inevitable now. Maybe if Jobs hadn’t brought them to the market someone else would have… but they didn’t. He did. That’s why Jobs’ contributions are worth remembering even if you buy competitors’ products.

      1. I remember FONDLY what computers were like before the Macintosh.  The ability to work a computer was a geeky badge of honor. Our small rural school’s computer lab consisted of only two Vic-20s and two Apple IIEs. The Apples were so popular that you had to reserve time to work on them. Many hours were spent playing Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail, as well as programming graphic demos in LORES and HIRES. I was a big Apple fan at the time and still have my very first floppy disk with the Apple sticker stuck on it. A couple of years later, a good friend and myself spent a whole summer programming, setting up, debugging, and operating a homebrew BBS, implemented on a NEC PC-8801A, a CP/M system. I enjoyed the “clunkiness” aspect of computers at the time, learning commands like PR#6 and LOAD “*”,8,1. And of course all those Hayes modem commands.  You had to pay your dues to operate a computer, at least a little bit, anyway.

        When the Macintosh came out when I was in high school, I vividly remember being introduced to it in class… my first impressions were not very positive. It has a small MONOCHROME monitor? No color graphics? Seriously?? How do you open it up to expand this thing? You can’t?

        But the clincher came when I was seated in class right to one of the stuck-up cheerleaders, who beforehand would have nothing to do with a computer, as they were for “nerds” and “geeks”.  (BTW, being considered a “nerd” or “geek” in 1986 was NOT cool.).  The teacher instructed us to use the mouse and to point and click to open a file. When I looked over, I saw that the cheerleader had of course successfully opened the file, and had a smug, satisfied look on her cute face like “Look at ME, I can work a COMPUTER!”

        It was at that moment that I formed the conclusion…I hate, hate HATE the Macintosh. It is the computer for DUMB people!

        A few years later, a computer that was years ahead of its time emerged- the Commodore Amiga. I saved what I could and bought one as soon as possible. This was cutting edge technology, and I loved it, but always wondered where the hell was Commodore Business Machines in supporting and promoting it. Of course, in a few years CBM declared bankruptcy.

        Looking back from 2011, it is evident that only having the best technology wasn’t good enough…what CBM needed was a visionary to focus, refine and guide it. Someone like… well, Steve Jobs.Also in defense of him, of course the GUI had to happen sooner or later, and Apple was the one to introduce it.   And finally, PC users like myself can thank Apple for putting the competitive pressure on Microsoft to make Windows a “pretty good” experience.

  20. Dean, thanks for your memories. They brought back quite a few of my own. I guess I’ll share them here… I’ll try to keep it brief.

    My parents bought an Apple ][+ as soon as they were available. Our local elementary school had shut down and the city wanted to bus us miles away to a rough neighborhood school… so they decided to try the home schooling thing. I was 4 or 5 I think, my siblings were older. The ][+ and the edu software on it was great, but trying to time share it between 3 kids and 1 parent (my dad was keyboard averse) proved impossible. They bought 3 more Apple ][e ‘s, so we each had our own to work with, and that’s kinda how I grew up.

    (Side note: Early on with the ][+, it had a problem with an add-on memory card… my parents decided to just drive it up to Apple HQ in Cupertino and start banging on doors until someone could take a look at it. After talking to a few puzzled receptionists, we were directed to drive around the back of the building. A door opened up, and a very odd-looking guy with a very unfortunate haircut picked up the CPU out of our trunk and carried it just inside the door to an electronics bench and started pulling it apart while we all stood around and watched. “Ah,” he said “Some of these boards don’t fit perfectly in the slot and so there are errors. It’ll take a minute to fix it.” He pulled out a piece of sandpaper and sanded down a minute amount off the edge of the card. After fitting it back in and booting it up, he pronounced it fixed and we left. Many years later when I was head of the Mac user group, I related this story to an early Apple employee and he pointed out that the funny-looking guy was probably Burrell Smith.)

    When the Mac came out, my mom almost bought one immediately, but held off until the 512k came out. Then there was the Mac Plus (20mb external SCSI HD!), the first Mac that could actually accomplish real work. I got an Apple IIgs that same year, but the die was cast: Macs were the future. My first bit of hardware teching was hauling the Plus down to the Mac User group meeting where someone showed me how to upgrade to 4MB RAM. (!!) We eventually upgraded to a Mac IIx (Color! Multitasking!), then IIfx. About the time of the IIx, occasional teching for money had turned into real design work for me, and I realized that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I was 14. I got involved with the local Mac User Group… at its peak we had 200+ people showing up for monthly meetings, and 16-32 page newsletters going out every month as a 501c3 nonprofit.

    I eventually went to college, moved out, and starting buying Macs with my own cash: PowerMac 6100, 8500, MDD G4, white iBook…

    Since then my Macs have all been at work, as after school I went into advertising… more Macs… then publishing… more Macs… and as I type this on a 27″ iMac as GM of a small publishing company, I reflect that my life would be very, very different if a couple guys both named Steve hadn’t decided to do something crazy and start building a computer that a normal person could just buy, plug in and use.

    Here’s to The Rest Of Us.

    Here’s to Steve.

    Thanks. For everything.

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