Friday, October 05, 2012

He Changed Everything

With two inveterate techies in the house, it was a given that we would get a computer when they got small enough to fit through the front door. Our first was a Leading Edge desktop model (with a printer) that cost more than $2000, a huge amount for our young family. But we felt we needed to invest in what we thought of as the future of technology. For that investment we got a monochrome screen with green rasterized type and a whopping 256K—no, that's not a typo—of RAM and what seemed at the time like an unfillable 20MB of memory. Not to mention piles of gigantic five-and-a-quarter-inch-square floppy disks.

For the most part I wasn't really interested in it, since I was an advertising art director and it couldn't help me with much more than typing up headline ideas. Someday, though—one of these days, I thought, they'll make a computer that can lay out the design and wrap type, and I won't have to use those stinky magic markers for comping up ideas or send out pages of text to a typesetter and have it come back in long galleys that, if there was a typo or mistake, had to go back and forth to the typesetter until it was right. And even then it had to be sliced apart and glued down on a board for the printer.

When we got our first Apple computer some time later, a Mac IIci, I knew it was close to the machine I'd been dreaming about. Easy for non-techies like me to use because it had been designed with the now-iconic Apple dictum that the user experience comes first, it had beautiful type rendering and invited exploration. And then a program called QuarkXpress came along for the Mac that finally enabled me to have control over my work. I was ecstatic.

From that first Apple machine, we were devoted Mac converts. Our lives have been fundamentally affected by the machines, the technology, the design and the focus on the user experience that Steve Jobs brought to the world of computing. I believe it's for the better. And on this anniversary of his passing, I'd like to say thanks, Steve, for believing that one person can change everything. Then doing it.

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