Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs

Becoming a "Mac Guy" has been one of the happier accidents of my life so far.

I had used them in childhood - memories of playing Oregon Trail, first on an Apple IIe and later on some of the earliest Power Macs, are vivid - but when our family finally got a computer it was a hand-me-down, and it ran MS-DOS. I familiarized myself with the operating system (and later, Windows) and in high school and into college I adopted the popular dissenting viewpoint regarding the Mac question: Macs were expensive, and they were weird, and only stupid idiots used them.

Fast forward to the summer of 2007, and I've just landed my first job in IT, albeit as a part-time student worker. Higher education being what it is, Macs were in abundance, and despite barely knowing the first thing about them (I didn't figure out how to install programs for weeks. Weeks.) I now had to work with them if I wanted my ten bucks an hour. And I needed that ten bucks an hour.

Over the next four years I amassed much knowledge of Macs, almost entirely through trial and error and vigorous, frequent Googling. This newfound expertise was instrumental in getting me a new job over this past summer. I can say without hyperbole that I owe a debt of gratitude to Apple for my current employment and the perks thereof, and to my profession I owe much of the experience and expertise I employ daily in writing about technology. That's the happy accident.

And that's just professionally. Even when I'm not working, I can't get by without my MacBook Air's low weight and high battery life. I depend on my iPhone all day long. I'm using Apple products for much of the time that I'm awake, and whatever you think about them or the company that makes them, they've had a visible and beneficial impact on our day-to-day lives. It's hard to deny the innovations they've made and the trends they've set, even if (perhaps especially if) you're a Windows die-hard or an Android fandroid.

No one person is responsible for any of these inventions: behind each of them is a dedicated and talented team of engineers; designers; programmers; marketers; laborers. But Steve Jobs, perhaps more than any working CEO today, contributed incalculably to the products his company makes. His fingerprints are all over every single one of them.

He died today, and that's really, truly a shame.