Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP, Steve Jobs

This was a magic box.
I hate to brag, but I was one of the first people to use a Macintosh.  Really.  Apple made a deal with a number of large universities around the country to let them install Macintosh computers for student use in "computer centers" on campus.  You see, young 'uns, no one had their own computer in 1985.  No one halfway normal, that is.  Myself, I was still clinging to my electric typewriter when a friend dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the computer center.  "I don't understand computers!" I complained.  "You'll understand this one," she said, shoving a floppy disk into my hands.  And she was right.

Primitive thumb drive
By the way, we used to have to sign up and WAIT to use a computer, believe it or not.  And then?  We waited to use a printer, too.  How quaint.  Oh, and we didn't have these cute little thumb drives that fit on a key chain.  We had these 3.5-inch square plastic things called floppy disks (even though they weren't floppy) that we lugged around in our heavy backpacks.  The backpacks were heavy because we had to carry things called "notebooks" and "textbooks." 

No ebooks, no computerized notes, nothing.  It was like the Flintstones, only more primitive.

What I'm saying is, computers would have happened no matter what.  But until Steve Jobs came along, they were exclusively the province of computer geeks; and the Internet was a sort of Wild West, populated by coders and music pirates.  Jobs took this frontier and turned it into DisneyWorld.  He put the Internet literally in our pockets and transformed it into a playground for everyone, even technophobes like myself.  He connected the world.  It's awesome, the changes that have happened in 30 years. 

This didn't used to be a cool look, you know...
The other thing Steve Jobs did was make the world safe for geeks.  He made them seem cute, even, with that black mock turtleneck and blue jeans ensemble.  In high school, we avoided them, those asocial weirdos who walked in and out of the computer room with punch cards and talked to each other in some sort of code.  If we could have, we would have put "Least likely to ever get a date" under their yearbook pictures.  Now?  Geeks are hot.  Just pull on a black mock turtleneck and shove an IPhone in your Jeans pocket, boys, and watch those girls swarm.

Except you, David - don't even think about it.




[Mac image: Vintage Computers]
[Floppy disk image: Chris Pirillo]

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7 comments:

  1. We had one of those Macs! I think we got it in 1988 because I was about 6. The first thing I did was crash the hard drive. Do you know how hard it was to find a computer repair person in 1988?? My dad was insanely pissed. And then we moved and I went to a school that used 8" floppy disks. I broke one. The computer teacher wanted to kick me out of the class.

    Thus began my love/hate relationship with computers. Now I have an iPhone. Jobs was responsible for it all!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We had one of those Macs! I think we got it in 1988 because I was about 6. The first thing I did was crash the hard drive. Do you know how hard it was to find a computer repair person in 1988?? My dad was insanely pissed. And then we moved and I went to a school that used 8" floppy disks. I broke one. The computer teacher wanted to kick me out of the class.

    Thus began my love/hate relationship with computers. Now I have an iPhone. Jobs was responsible for it all!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I read your post on my IPod Touch.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was the best tribute I've read about him--really nice.

    ReplyDelete
  5. One of my boyfriends had the MAC in the picture above and it was 1985! I paid zero attention to it and made him print up stationery for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I got one of those first Macs in 1985. it was a Christmas gift for 1984, but I had to order it from the school and wait 2 months or more til I got it. But I was in love with it. I have owned a Mac ever since.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well said. I don't miss the old-fashioned carbon copies or white-out a single bit!

    ReplyDelete

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