Thursday, October 6, 2011

How Did Steve Jobs Change Your Life?

     Sitting in front of one computer screen, next to another, looking over at two printers, relying on my smart phone and toting my Kindle, all I can think about is that day, years ago, when my son decided to teach me how to use a computer. We started with a Macintosh, spent two weeks working together, and he only called me stupid three times.
     That was the beginning. I was addicted. I “needed” my computer for business, I kept telling myself. Sure, it changed the way I ran my business, made it easier, more efficient, simpler. But it changed my life.
I really think I can’t think unless I’m sitting in front of a computer screen. Handwriting? No, that left about 20 years ago. I can hardly sign my name with a pen. Drawing and painting? No, the Mac was so much neater. No smelly turpentine, no need for messy paints. 
     Of course, the first Macs had only black and white screens. How do you paint on a black and white screen? You figure out the colors with the help of a pile of Pantone chips.
     I needed, no had to have, a portable computer to tote all over the country with me. When Steve Jobs announced the Powerbook, his first laptop, I had to have it. I called Cupertino every day for weeks, insisting and pleading that they tell me who in New York was getting the first Powerbook. They did tell me, I pre-ordered it and think I got my hands on the first one to see Manhattan.
     My first Powerbook had a black and white screen, a 20 MB hard drive, and cost me $4200, a bargain, since the list price was $4600. Every time I went through security at an airport, my Powerbook and I stopped traffic. Everyone wanted to play with it.
     My first laptop changed my life, but how excited was I to get my hands on the first one with a colored screen.  It had a 40 MB hard drive, gigantic. For years, one Mac led to another until I experienced a Steve Jobs disaster. I bought a pumpkin-colored laptop, but couldn’t get it to work. It was before Christmas and Apple sent out units with a new system, sent them out too early, and the system was a disaster. It was so bad that they actually allowed me to send it back for a full refund.
The pumpkin was my last Macintosh. I needed something that would work, so I ended up with my first Windows computer. It too was awful, but it sort of worked. Throwing Bill Gates off the Golden Gate Bridge became my fantasy.
     By the time I realized Apple deserved another chance, I had already invested too much in Windows software and was using business programs that weren’t yet available for the Mac. So, Steve, I’m sorry to say, my loyalty waned. Now I’m mired in Windows stuff. With every new problematic system I think about my pumpkin. I wish I had stuck with it, but it’s too late.
     Microsoft learned everything they know from Steve Jobs. Every Windows system is still playing catch up.
     Isn’t it sad that bad things happen to good people? Steve, you didn’t deserve your fate and I only hope your last days weren’t too awful.

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