Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

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Thank you, Steve

Steve Jobs changed my life, and all for the better. I first used a Mac in 1984, sneaking (or so I told myself) into a little computer cluster with none of the security such things would soon come to have, in an anonymous little building at the foot of Brooklyn Ave on the University of Washington campus. I fell in love as only a nerdy penniless kid can. Six years later I arrived in Boston, a broke college drop-out with $20 to my name, an offer of crash space on a couch in the basement of some friends of my ex-girlfriend — and a head as crammed full of knowledge of all things Mac as it was possible to get without owning one.

One of the housemates where I was crashing, a recent MIT alum named Chris, had a Mac II, and was making ends meet while deciding what to do with his life by working for a company called MacTemps. He saw what I knew, and introduced me to them, and I've been making my living from the Mac, to a greater or lesser extent, from that day to this.

I never met Steve Jobs. The closest I came was five or ten feet away, and it certainly didn't occur to me at the time that I would remember it for the rest of my life. It was some time in the late 1980s, and Steve was at UW, trying to drum up interest in his new company's forthcoming computer, the NeXT Cube (which at the time, apparently due to some deal Steve had made on leaving Apple, was only going to be sold in the academic market). There weren't that many people there, maybe a hundred, and Steve spoke in a room with a small proscenium stage and no fixed seating. The room had some tables and chairs, and one or two machines being demonstrated, and as I recall it, everyone just stood in front of the stage when Steve talked. I was certainly right up against the stage, which was about the height of my solar-plexus. The thing that really struck me at the time, a poor kid with aspirations, was how, early in his talk, Steve took off his suit jacket —Armani: I saw the label — and with a lack of concern I could not imagine, set it down on the stage beside him — I could have reached out and grabbed it — and kept on talking about how the operating system they were developing, NeXTSTEP, was the future of computing.

Which was, of course, more true than anyone (except, perhaps, Steve) could have imagined. A year or so later, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web on a NeXT Cube at CERN. And twenty-odd years later, the Mac laptop I'm typing these words on owes at least as much to the NeXT Cube I saw Steve demo that day as to that first Mac I saw in 1984. As does the iPhone in my pocket.

And for that, as for so much else: Thank you, Steve.

Steven Paul Jobs — requiescat in pace.
Tags: meditations
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