Friday, October 7, 2011

A requiem for Steve Jobs

This might sound like I am leaping upon a popular bandwagon but I could not care less.  It's the truth.

The inventions of Steve Jobs have affected my life probably more than any other line of products.  In the sweltering August of 1982, on the same day as when we went to see a re-release of Star Wars: A New Hope, my Dad brought something home.  It was in a pair of large boxes that he bought from a store staffed by men with long hair and wearing sandals.  It was not the Atari that I wanted nor was it any other kind of gaming system.  It was a computer.

And I was quietly pissed as all hell.

Why do the other kids get Ataris and I have to have this "Apple II+ " ?  It doesn't even come with joysticks.  It comes with paddles.  Oh I see, Dad.  Of course, I should have known.  It's educational.  I'm going to learn what "DOS" means and how a "boot disk" works.  Things I load and play will done be through a command prompt. 
Games?  Oh sure there are games.  Had knock-offs like Apple Invader, just like Space Invaders only in green, not gray.  Lemonade Stand, now there was what every kid in the Atari generation wanted.  And who can forget our dear friend, Oregon Trail?  Happy sighs...

The games got better.  There was an Asteroids/Zaxxon/maze game where you had to find and bring back these jewels before time ran out.  Played that thing to death with my friend Guppy.  In time, I began to learn that it was not the games that mattered.  I learned programming languages like BASIC and LOGO.  Sadly, this would almost be the extent of programming knowledge due to my ineptness with math but I was really a leg up on many people at the time.  By 1988 we switched to a PC and I stayed with them until a mere three years ago.  I might have worked on a Mac a time or two in college but aside from that, Apple faded from memory.  Little did I know that I owed any ability I had of working with computers to those formative years with the Apple II+.

I spent the bulk of the 1990s editing videotape for my job.  It was an atrocious process of two bulky Hi8 decks, laying down control track, setting entry and end points, and constant rewinding and fast forwarding.  It was also very unforgiving.  Screw one part up and you have to do everything over.
Then it arrived.  A Mac G4 with a software package called Final Cut Pro.  The video could be shot on digital tape and then transferred directly into the Mac.  Editing on Final Cut was as easy as working with a word processor.  And the user interface?  Second to none.  I could have kissed Steve Jobs with vesuvian gushes of gratitude for how he made my life so much easier.
I mean that metaphorically, of course.

An iMac came home with me in 2009, much the same way as the Apple II+ did with my Dad all those years ago.  Only this time the machine arrived in a single, elegant box with hardly any setup required.  Nearly everything that I have done for Strange Horizons, including this very post, has been composed on the Mac.  We have iPods at home, forever changing the way we buy and listen to music.  I even store video downloads on it for occasions such as train rides.  Then there's podcasting.  Jim Harold over at The Paranormal Podcast would be happy to tell you what a difference iTunes and iPod technology have made for anyone with a passionate interest in creating something and the desire to get it out to an audience.  Like the true rebel he was, Steve gave us the tools to cut out the stuffed shirt middleman. 

Steve Jobs was not just an inventor and a technologist.  He was an artist.  Everything from the elegant design of his products to the infamous Super Bowl commercial for the Mac in 1984:

Personally, I thought it was inspired.  Truly in the burgeoning spirit of cyberpunk.  Oh what exciting times those were.

I won't lie.  Had you asked me one week ago what I thought of Steve Jobs, I probably would have just smiled and said, "Yeah, cool guy."  Unfortunately, as it does so many times in human events it seems, it took his departure from this plane to really force me to take stock of what he had done.  I knew that he had changed the world, I just never quite realized how much he changed me.

I'll close out with words from Job's Apple co-founder and good friend, Steve Wozniak: 

“We’ve lost something we won’t get back,” Wozniak said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “The way I see it, though, the way people love products he put so much into creating means he brought a lot of life to the world.”

Thank you, Mr. Jobs.  RIP

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other people's opinions drown out your own inner voice...have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary."--Steve Jobs

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  1. WOW. Nice job on spiffing up the blog. and a good post.

    Jobs age 56 = 5+6 = 11 = Death

    1955 = 1+9+5+5 = 20 is 8 on the clock face so 8 = CONTROL

    2 = duality
    0 = same as 10 for Intensity
    11 = death

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Dark Star.
    Was thinking about you earlier today. Had a discussion with somebody about whether what we live in is real or a holographic illusion. :)

  3. That must have been an interesting conversation

    This reality is certainly real to question, but this is not our true selves and nor is this our paradise, where really are! ...we are not from here because here does not is a light illusion created from thought (Thoth). Yes I am understanding more & more that we live in a holographic universe. Photons & force fields just like the Holo-Deck on Star Trek. We have been showing this concept to people for decades now. The sheeple don't get it and think that it JUST A MOVIE and none of it could possibly be true but they are wrong! :) Take care.



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