“Think Different”

In the early 1980s, we students at Ryan Junior High School in Queens, NY were required to take a class called simply “Computer”. Our teacher was the sideburned, bell-bottom wearing Mr. Berkowitz. The class, in a word, sucked. And I sucked at it. The only reason I passed was because Berkowitz didn’t give a shit and basically passed everybody.

I hated computers after that experience. Even as computers evolved over the years and became popular I still harbored an aversion to them. In fact, I was slow to get on the computer bandwagon compared to others. A friend of mine had a computer in her home – a PC. I tried to use it a few times and it frustrated the hell out of me. How do I work this thing? What just happened? Huh? Aargh! Computers just seemed more trouble than they were worth. Plus, they were ugly.

And then, years later, I was talking to someone about my computer ineptitude, and I’ll never forget what he said: “You should just get a Mac”. I didn’t think much of it at that moment. I knew that Mac was a computer and I sucked at computers so what could possibly be so different about a Mac? As far as I was concerned it was just another computer to aggravate me and remind me how incompetent I was when it came to technology. After I groaned some more this guy said again, without any elaboration, “just get a Mac.”. As if it was the definitive end-all solution to my problem. I was skeptical.

But I took his advice. I got a Mac. A laptop called an iBook. I distinctly remember the first night I spent with it – taking it out of the box, setting it up, smiling at the cheerful prompts, the cute Apple logo and attractive screensaver. It turned into hours of fun. No, it was better than fun. It was discovery. “This computer doesn’t hate me!”, I thought. This computer wants me to use it. I wasn’t just getting the hang of it. I was getting into it. Key difference there. I believe I stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning, me and my new iBook. It was like a romantic date night!

With the sad passing of Apple founder and chairman Steve Jobs, I knew it wouldn’t be necessary for me to discuss the man’s accomplishments. You all have access to it. Obituaries and tributes are everywhere on the web, and they are as fascinating as the man himself. The words “creative genius”, “innovator”, “visionary”, etc are being applied, rightly and accurately. He absolutely was all of those things. So I figured I would simply share my own story about how Apple  brought me personally right here, to this very moment: typing this blog post on my MacBook keyboard. All Museworthy posts have been done on a Mac. I’ve never owned a computer that wasn’t a Mac. It was Apple which brought me into our world as it is today. Many people didn’t require Apple to make that transition and I understand that. But I did require it, and I am grateful. I think many people had their psychological “computer barrier” fears broken down by Apple. For so long I had no flair for any of this. And now I am totally comfortable. Sharing, communicating, learning and exploring. Very cool.

RIP Steve Jobs. Adopted child, Buddhist, college dropout, entrepreneur, Apple founder, cancer sufferer, California native, husband, father, restless ambitious dreamer, the Thomas Edison of our time. Thank you 🙂

8 thoughts on ““Think Different”

  1. Andrew says:

    The Mac in that photo reminds me of the comic strip Bloom County. There was a character called Banana Junior that looked like an original Macintosh. http://toastytech.com/guis/banana2.html

    In junior high school I took a class in the BASIC computer programming language. With paper route money I bought a Commodore VIC20, which had about 2KB of memory and stored programs on cassette tape. Then I bought an Apple II+ (Apple’s bread and butter before the Mac) which used 5.25″ floppy disks that were actually floppy. (And I used to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways….)

  2. doug rogers says:

    My sister was selling them, and brought home a dual floppy Mac Plus. The first thing I did was make art on it. My first Mac SE cost me $3500.

  3. As yes, back in the day… I started out with the Apple II & was a holdout using the Apple II GS for years after they made their first Mac.

    II GS: A 16 bit machine, seven expansion slots, -the display was chunckier than the new, wizz-bang, Mac but it has built in Basic, so I could make it do about anything I wanted!

    Like your friend I’d, back in the day, tell most people get a Mac. That dos (Microsoft) machines were OK if you wanted/needed, and only needed to run specific applications such as Excel & Word, that the Apple II machine was quite handy if you wanted to write/use your own programs, but that if you wanted an invisible, intuitive, friendly environment go for the Mac, it was a office in a box with everything right where you expected to find it!

    I’ve a Mac now, of course but I still have a certain nostalgia for Job’s and Woz’s first garage machines that basically took a room sized computer, streamlined, improved it, and put it in a box the size of a typewriter.

    It was a fun machine! I remember writing a short, basic, program taking my phone number, 4886661 and breaking it down in to prime numbers (numbers only evenly divisible by themselves and 1): 3 times 13 times 125299 (all prime numbers) equals 4886661. It only took a few lines of basic code, it did take over 4 hours to run but shucky darn I could sit back and have a beer while the machine laboriously worked and worked and worked. 🙂

    I missed that type of fun when I, with reluctance, moved up to the mac, especially after they stopped supporting hypercard but, but but,…

    I found, just a couple of weeks ago, that hidden back around the terminal area, Steve et al have included a high level programing language, Python, available to us folks on this side of the keyboards & that type of fun is back!

    So! Tipping my glass to Steve Jobs; making life interesting back in the day, reshaping the world we all live in right now and opening up ten thousand tomorrows!

  4. Ron says:

    My first Apple computer was an Apple IIc, which predated the Mac. I was an updated version of the Apple II which really was the first commercially available PC. There were some earlier home computers, like the VIC 20 but they were little more than enhanced game machines. The IIc was the first computer I owned that could actually do something useful, like word processing. After a couple of years we outgrew it, in large part because the mac had come out and Apple stopped supporting the II line, in favor of the Mac.

    Windows had come out by then so we like most of the rest of the world gravitated to a series of Gateway and Dell computers. Macs were just too expensive and Apple seemed irrelevant, especially after Jobs left.

    Years later, when my Dell had to be replaced, I decided to switch back to Apple. Steve was back and had put out the the Mac mini, which you could hook up to your own keyboard mouse and monitor. I took the Mac plunge and never looked back. Caught up in the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Zone, our household now contains a Mac Mini, a MacBook, a MacBook Pro, three iPods and and an Apple TV.

    Thanks Steve, for changing the world, not once but many times.

  5. Andrew says:

    Jim, The IIgs user manual is available on the Apple website in case you misplaced yours. http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=51954

    Ron, you and I are out of luck. The II+ and IIc manuals are not there. I took a nostalgic peek at the IIe manual and it mentioned that previous models (II, II+) didn’t recognize lower case, so if you use software written for those models it will only work with caps-lock. (I had bought a special chip and a soldering iron and modified my II+ to use lower case.)

    I guess the world has changed just a bit since then.

    Now if only I can get a Windows 7 driver for my ticker tape and punch card peripherals. 😉

  6. derek says:

    rest in peace Steve Jobs

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