Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 25, 2011 8:58 PM

Steve

Do you remember being in your teens and buying a ticket to a concert?

I was (and still am) a huge fan of music. My genre of choice is anything loud, hard and aggressive, but I've mellowed over the years and get as much joy out of jazz, classic rock and stuff in between. I can remember being in my early teens and hearing that a band that I loved was coming to town. First, I would wait weeks for the tickets to go on sale and then, after waiting in line for hours on end, I would post the ticket to a corkboard in my room and stare at the date for months until the band finally came to town. People often forget that a lot of the joy derived from the concert experience is actually in the waiting, anticipation and getting ready for the big day.

Do you remember the first time you ever saw a personal computer?

I grew up in a typical middle class environment. I was given everything I needed (and more) but not to excess and I was never spoiled. My parents worked very hard to give me and my three brothers the best life possible (funny enough, they still work hard and push us to create our best lives possible, to this very day). Instead of individual gifts for every occasion, the money was pooled together for something that we could all share. From the first versions of Pong and the Atari 2600 to our first personal computer: Atari 800. As technology advanced, we were one of the first families to own a PC (IBM clone) and when modems entered the market, I was right there busting the piggybank to get connected. Around the same time that I was deep diving into my first PC, two of my best friends got Apple Macintosh computers. Most people didn't even know why anyone would need a computer in their home (this was the early days of the early adopters). True story: I once got into trouble at elementary school because I had written a book review on the computer and handed in a print-out from the dot matrix printer instead of writing it by hand. The teacher forced me to transcribe the printed page by hand on to loose leaf paper.

Old habits die hard.

I never really used Apple products much growing up and into my adult life. Don't get me wrong, I have always been around Apple: I knew the brand, I knew the product lines, I could fumble my way through it, but since the early eighties, I was on a PC. During Christmas of last year, I changed everything. I decided to drop the BlackBerry and the PC laptops and switch to Apple only: iPhone, iPad and MacBook. I wanted to understand, feel and learn what it's like to be completely uncomfortable with technology by causing disruption in my life. I even had a plan: I was going to start with my smartphone. I bought the iPhone on a Saturday morning and figured I would carry both devices around until I was comfortable with just the iPhone. Bad plan. By Saturday afternoon, my BlackBerry was in the drawer and I have not looked back since. Same with my computer. I traded in my Sony Vaio and Dell notebooks in for a MacBook Pro. Again, within hours, there was no looking back. Apple's marvel was not in technology or design, it was in making technology through design a completely comfortable experience.

Recently...

Recently, I switched from my MacBook Pro to the new MacBook Air (13 inch). In case you didn't know, I rarely mention brands, products or services, but my MacBook Air is such an amazing computer that I was actually considering writing a Blog post review of my laptop (and, as someone who changes their computer more times than I care to admit, that is really saying something). I love my MacBook Air so much, that I was recently telling both Julien Smith and Hugh McGuire that it is making me a better writer. I simply enjoy the writing process and experience on my new laptop so much more because of how great of a computer it is. Imagine that. In fact, I've been a huge advocate for the iPad, but since I've been working on my MacBook Air, there hasn't really been a need to use the iPad as well.

Thanks, Steve.

I've been down about the news that Steve Jobs has resigned from Apple. As a business owner and entrepreneur, I know that the business will roll on and that Apple will continue to innovate and change how we use technology and media. I too marvel at everything that Apple has accomplished under Jobs' command, but I'm more down about how somber and morbid both the news analysis and punditry is. Most of the media reads like an obituary. I'm down because I can't imagine what it took for Jobs to write that letter of resignation. To be at the point where he feels like he can't complete his daily duties. It's sad. Not because the world needs more iPhones. It's sad because I'm sure he still wants to go to work every day, to think about what his customers might not even know that they want and to push people (and himself) to create the future (or, as he says, "make a dent in the universe."). Jobs is obviously focusing on a very serious personal fight for his health and it's not hard to link his resignation with how tough of a battle his health is putting him through.

Thanks, Steve.

I don't know about you, but it's fun to be a grown adult, with a family of my own and to still get that feeling that I used to get when it was announced that one of my favorites rock bands was coming to town, but now it's about the stuff that Apple is doing. It's funny how life changes. The rock stars in my life are now people like Steve Jobs.

I'm cool with that. 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Andy Strote
    Mitch Joel

    Welcome to the light side! I never had a computer when I was younger, but in 1986, working at an enlightened ad agency, a Mac SE landed on my desk, complete with a 20 MB hard drive (that's MB, not GB). Wow, a big switch from an IBM Selectric! Never looked back. Like you, feeling sad for Steve. You don't have to be a biz geek to know he's a true rock star. His upcoming bio should fly off the shelves (digital and paper).

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael Elman
    Michael Elman

    I went through the same thing about 6 years ago, and next thing you know started an apple developer company because I love the products and ecosystem so much. If you are ever looking for inspiration I suggest checking any Jobs keynote, but particularly his first when returning back in 97, or the one that introduced iPhone, which is my personal favorite. Also, there's one when when he was 30 years old launching the apple II that's great. True visionary in action.

    Reply
  • Posted by Gordon White
    Mitch Joel

    Steve Jobs IS probably the greatest innovator during my lifetime, I hope his decision to step down means he will enjoy better health sometime in the near future - Apple without Steve is better than a world without Steve - Get well soon.

    Reply
  • Posted by bill laidlaw
    Mitch Joel

    Bought an Apple 2 in the early 80's. Friends laughed at the thought of spending over a grand for a computer for your home no less. I guess they were right as I didn't get very far with the programming I bought for it. Visicalc, some kind of neural learning program, a program that would grapichally show the frequency response of a loudspeaker. Many if not all of these programs ran off a cassette tape deck and your timing had to perfect to boot it up, hah can you believe it! An almost thirty year Apple-less gap finds my family now tethered to two iPads and two MacBooks.
    What did I miss?

    Reply
  • Posted by Gareth Morris
    Mitch Joel

    Beautifully stated. I too am a recent crossover in the last 16 months to apple products (I write this on my iPad2, with my imac and iphone close at hand). I too am sad to see the showman/innovator/visionary depart. I am always excited to see what's next and felt my heart skip a beat when Jobs would walk on stage in black mock turtle neck and jeans, to show us the latest magic unfolding from the Apple kingdom.

    I am also sad that, to me, it seems like Steve Jobs was the last of the original mavericks. The late 70's/early 80's nerds that truly changed our world (Wozniak, Gates, Allen, Grove and many other technology pioneers) all seem to have faded.

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris Roffe
    Mitch Joel

    I remember listening to the podcast where you wondered what you were missing by not using an iPhone and I believe you were being picked on by Julien & crew as a result of your objections that the experience can't be that different.

    I've enjoyed all of my Apple products dating back to mid 80's... except for the Performa models I had :)

    Good article, thank you for the nostalgia it brings back!

    Reply
  • Posted by Johnny Russo
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, this really struck a chord, because I have been a PC and Blackberry advocate, but am getting really frustrated with them, especially my BB. So I have been thinking about switching to Apple, or at least the iPhone. Your note about disrupting your technology pattern really hit me. Maybe that is what I need. Sad to see such a mind at Steve Jobs resign. His Stanford speech from a few years ago really shows how he lives his life, and how he is passionate about both life and creativity. Awesome job Mitch!

    Reply
  • Posted by Tom Flanagan
    Mitch Joel

    "I'm cool with that" as well Mitch. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply
  • Posted by Quentin Karmark
    Mitch Joel

    Great article, Mitch... It's quite apparent that Steve Jobs is many people's rock star.

    One thing I have been wondering lately: Apple recently secured the real estate parcel earmarked for the new 'spaceship campus' and then he recently demolished the Jackling house to make room for his own simple creation. Sadly, I think anticipation of these two new structures were very personal to Steve, and yet it's quite possible he could not see either or both become a reality. Not trying to be a debby-downer, just thinking that he's likely going to be reminded of these 'legacies' while he battles with his health.

    Reply
  • Posted by Deb Augur
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Joel, I just read your emailed post and had to stop by and tell you how beautiful it was to read. "Thanks Steve." I agree, Steve is a rock star in life, and I wish him well, also.

    Reply
  • Posted by Lisa Stockwell
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. I can't believe that, as a writer, it took you so long to come to the light side. Like Andy above, I started with a Mac SE in '86 or '87 (after a short stint with a Televideo—a gorgeous machine that became obsolete soon after buying it).

    I think you captured the essence of why Steve's resignation hits so many of us so hard. He is the poster child for being passionate about one's work. It's an easy thing to talk about, but not that many people do it consistently well. He's also our most charismatic visionary, someone with the brilliance to see the potential in a new idea and market it to the entire public in a way that changes lives. I'm sure we would still have personal computers had Steve never come along, but it's curious to think about how long it might have taken for them to become a necessary personal item.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jon buscall
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, this is awesome. I love watching how your writing has matured over the years. For what it's worth, this was what I missed in the international press coverage: something personal, something human. Thank you.

    Reply
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