When I was a little kid, I begged my mom for a computer. We had one (just one) in school and I would play with it whenever I had a chance. My mom didn’t even really know what a computer was, She just know they were expensive. She got me a subscription to 3-2-1 Contact (I used to watch PBS all the time and I LOVED that show) in hopes that it would be enough. I used it write BASIC all the time and then try to run it through the computer in school. Can you believe a kid’s magazine used to actually teach to code?
For Christmas that year (sometime in the late 80s, 87 or 88), I got a shiny new Tandy 1000HX: the cheapest thing Radio Shack had. I was so excited. It probably took her 10 years to pay it off. I played with that computer all the time. I was a giant dork, and I named him Edgar. Don’t ask me why my mom let me watch Electric Dreams at the age (I was probably 8 or 9, which seems old for a first computer these days).
The Tandy HX was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It didn’t have a hard drive, it ran MS-Dos and Deskmate disks (word processor and some other things). It could do a lot, but everything was command line. It had a huge manual (actually it had several) that I would read all the time to find out what I could do. I used to accidentally format that damn DOS disk ALL the time. My mom would cart me down to radio shack and they’d put it back on the disk for me. I eventually learned to make backups (and I still have one). Aside from those disks, I had a few games. I used to play Kings Quest all the time, and the guy at Radio Shack told my mom Leisure Suit Larry was a kid’s game so my niece and I would play that. We soon found out it wasn’t a kid’s game. We neglected to mention it to my mom. Even in the 80s kids were doing bad things on computers without their parents having a clue. Leisure Suit Larry was my Grand Theft Auto.
Eventually, I got a piece of crap of laptop from a pawn shop. I don’t even remember kind of computer that was, but it had a hard drive. It had an external modem with it and could log into GEnie. I used to play on the BBS a little, but most of the people were older and, while I thought it was cool, it was kind of boring. My next computer (many years later) was an Internet ready Packard Bell. Seems like this was around 1995, and I wanted to sign up for Prodigy. I had seen ads on TV. They needed a credit card, and my mom didn’t have one (this was before debit cards were credit cards too). So, I researched and found about CompuServ. They would take a check. We paid for dial-up by the hour (yes, people used to do that), so I could only get on a few minutes a day. Whenever I could I would be on CompuServ CB chatting with people. People who I would never talk to in real life. I never talked to much of anyone. I would read at recess, only had a few friends. Online, I got to tell everyone what I thought! And so, it started. Soon I would be designing websites and earning money for college, writing for the web and developing databases for the state.
If it weren’t for people like Steve Jobs, I don’t know what I would have become. I don’t credit Steve alone, but he dominoes he put into motion have touched almost every part of my life. Even more directly, I use an Apple product everyday. I can’t even begin to express how much he’s touched my life.
Fifty-six is too young. Thank of all the innovation he had left to give. I don’t mourn most celebrities, but you were different. Sometimes I didn’t agree with your business tactics, but I always agreed that you were an visionary and almost everything you did (was he responsible for the Newton?) changed the way we looked at technology.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
No one wants to die. Even people who wanna go to heaven don’t wanna die to get there.