Steve Jobs, you will be missed. Greatly.

I remember my first computer. It was a TI-99/4A. I bought it back in 1982 (I think), and it cost around $300. The entire computer fit inside what looked like a really thick keyboard. It had a slot on the right for cartridges, and I had a cassette tape drive that I used for backing up the BASIC computer programs that I wrote. I thought that it was a great computer at the time, but I really didn’t have anything to compare it to. The games were the best part of the computer (really the only fun part – my BASIC skills were lacking). And even though the games were fairly lame by even 1982 standards, but they were still plenty of fun to play.

I also remember when I saw a Macintosh for the first time. I had followed Apple for some time, but I had never had the opportunity to actually see a Macintosh. I think it was in 1987 or 1988, when I was a student at the University of Georgia. I believe it was a Mac SE, and it had one megabyte of RAM and a twenty-megabyte hard drive. Up to that point, I had only played around with MS-DOS, and that was on a computer at work. I was amazed at the graphical interface. The mouse was definitely cool. I had to have one, but at that time, they were a couple thousand dollars (at least), and I was a “poor college student”. I spent a lot of time at the computer lab, and I waited.

In 1989, I landed my first job out of college, and one of the first things on my “to-buy” list was a Mac. I just didn’t WANT a Mac – I NEEDED a Mac. So, with a loan from the bank (yes, we took out a loan), my brother and I bought two Mac SE’s, and an HP Deskwriter dot-matrix printer that cost $1,195 (we had to share the printer). I remember opening the box and putting the computer on my desk – and I was thrilled and amazed. With my 2400-baud modem, I could connect to the Unix computers at work. Life was grand. The first major improvement that I made was to upgrade the RAM to four megabytes. I think the upgrade was a whopping $400. And then, about a year later, the hard drive died (one of the only problems that I have ever had with a Mac). So, I upgraded to a forty-megabyte drive for $500. I remember thinking that I will wouldn’t need any more additional hard drive space for a really long time. Besides, I had several hundred 3.5 inch floppies. I later upgraded to a faster processor and bought an internal video card that let me use a huge monitor at the same time (I think it was a 19″ monitor – but it was a grayscale monitor). But having two monitors was cool – very cool – even though a color monitor still eluded me.

And then, about every year or two, I would upgrade to a newer model. I had an SE/30, LC, IIsi, Quadra 840 AV (which I used to edit my first videos), a Power Mac G3, G4 and then several iMac’s. I remember staying up all night playing SIM City on the LC and playing on Prodigy. I had other computers in the house – a Windows machine and a couple of Unix boxes. But I was all-Mac. I remember my first web cam, which I set up to record people driving my the house. The motion-detection software would record a few grayscale photos when cars would drive by. I found out when the trash was picked up and when the mail was delivered. Technology was amazing.

I followed all of the Apple news. Even before I bought my first Mac, I remember when Steve was booted from Apple. I winced as I remember watching Scully and Amelio take Apple to the brink of bankruptcy. When I traveled to the San Francisco area in the mid-1990′s on a business trip, I took some time to drive to Cupertino to the Apple Campus. While I would have loved to have been an Apple employee back then, moving to California was pretty much out of the question. But, I wanted to at least state that I had applied for a job there – which I did. I wasn’t hired, but at least I tried, at least I did that. And I remember when Steve Jobs returned. Mac lovers now had hope. The love affair was rekindled – and it had the opportunity to be much, much stronger than before. Steve would fix it. He had to fix it. And he did.

When I started a company a few years ago, the office was filled with Intel iMac’s and a Mac Pro Server (running MySQL of course!). My wife has a MacBook Pro, my kids have Mac Mini’s, and I just recently purchased a MacBook Pro. We even have an iMac in the kitchen. My Mom has an iMac and my Dad has my Mom’s old G4 (when she upgrades, he gets the hand-me-downs). My sister recently “upgraded” from Windows to an iMac. I gave my niece a MacBook when she started graphics arts school. (My brother is the only current hold-out, but he is on the way to converting back to the Mac). I think you get my point – I really love Macintosh computers and I enjoy “converting people” to the cause.

Needless to say, my life has been touched in some way throughout the past 20-plus years by the Macintosh. I have done everything from creating proposals, creating and listening to music, to editing my youngest son’s birth video (yes, it is rated G) – all on a Macintosh. It is even where I store my tens of thousands of digital photos. I have designed web sites, created software products and ran a business on Macintosh computers. My wife produced a video for my 40th birthday party on her Mac. And, I can’t forget my first iPod, my first iPod Touch, and my iPhones – versions 3 and 4 (I am holding out for the iPad 3). Heck, I even still use the old AppleWorks application every once in a while.

Even though the Mac isn’t and has never been the most dominant “PC” in the marketplace – if you ask anyone that uses a Mac if they would ever use anything else, the vast majority of them would answer with a strong and resounding “no” (or even HELL NO). Even when Apple stock was trading at less than five bucks per share, and it seemed like it was going out of business, I remember telling friends that Apple would pull through (heck – it HAD to pull through). I couldn’t imagine having to use a Windows machine.

And so, I owe a lot of my memories over the past twenty years to Apple Computer, and of course, to Steve Jobs. Steve wouldn’t just manufacture a computer, he would design a work of art (albeit a more expensive work of art). And the operating system was, well, extremely easy to use. Having an Apple computer is tantamount to having a love affair – a comment that I usually don’t hear from users of that other operating system. Steve’s vision for what a computer should do for the user and how the user interacts with the computer was pure genius. And being an ex-Unix admin, once the Mac OS switched to a Unix-based OS, I was even more smitten.

When I had heard the Steve Jobs had passed, I was sad. Well, maybe a bit more than sad. I was never really a big fan of Steve Jobs as a person, mainly because I really didn’t know a lot about him personally – I just loved his products, his vision. When he would announce a new product, you could tell that he was really, really proud of what he had achieved. He wasn’t just up on stage hawking widgets, he was introducing something truly historic. Something that would cause other companies to scurry and to try and play catch-up (they rarely succeeded). I can only hope that the team that he has placed at Apple will continue his legacy of producing innovation at the same level of genius that he has cultivated over the years. If not, then I will also be sad for my two kids, as they won’t get to experience the joy of using a Macintosh as I have. Steve Jobs, you will be missed. Greatly.

 


Tony Darnell is a Principal Sales Consultant for MySQL, a division of Oracle, Inc. MySQL is the world’s most popular open-source database program. Tony may be reached at info [at] ScriptingMySQL.com and on LinkedIn.
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