Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011: Confessions of a non-fanboy

Squeezed October 5, 2011

There are those who practically live in the Apple world. They treat the Worldwide Developer Conference as if it were a religious event. They never fail to get waitlisted for the latest and greatest iPhone, cancellation fees and lack of discount be damned. And they never fail to trumpet the gospel of the One True Computer Brand to those who will listen (or to those who are within earshot).

I’ve never been one of them.

As a kid, I cut my technological teeth on BASIC on a VIC-20, and later graduated to a PC XT in 5th grade. I grew up in the DOS/Windows world and remain firmly there for my own computer purchasing decisions, at least for the time being. I do have an iPhone, which I do love.

So, given my relative lack of immersion in the Apple world, I didn’t react like this to the news of Steve Jobs’ passing:

I’m actually sick to my stomach right now, you guys know I’m a true fanboy, i can’t believe it hurts this much! F**k, I’m in shock. #Steve

(wave to @docrock – hope you’re doing OK, dude.)

My initial reaction was more like this:

Well, I shouldn’t be surprised – but still, his departure from this world so soon after departing from Apple touches us all. RIP Steve Jobs.

After all, it was just last month six weeks ago when Jobs abruptly resigned from his post as CEO, claiming that he was no longer able to fulfill his duties. Of course, it was no secret that he was not at all well. Yet, I never thought that the end would come so soon. (I felt compelled then to remind people that Jobs resigned and did not die, and that mourning his loss then was like burying him alive. OK, you can bury him now.)

And as much as I’ve historically resisted the siren call of Apple products and endured the abuse inflicted on me by my Mac nut friends, I do have to admit that, for better or for worse, Steve Jobs’ legacy has touched me and the lives of many around me.

Who would have known that a pointing device and pictures, introduced to the world at large with the Apple Lisa and perfected by the Macintosh, would become the standard way of human interaction with computers the world over? Who would have known that a small device no larger than the size of a deck of cards would forever change the way that music is delivered? And who would have thought that a mobile phone could be used for things other than phone calls and text messages? Who else but Steve Jobs?

A lot of people my age have fond memories of Apple IIs as their first computers, either at home or at school. I remember computer classes where I learned BASIC and LOGO. In fact, Apple’s traditional niche has been in the education field (while PCs have been mainstays in the business world), and for those of us who were fortunate to have computers and computer labs at school, chances are good that those computers were Apples (either Apple IIs and their relatives, or Macs). True, the digital divide in schools and in homes has not been completely bridged (as one of my Twitter followers forcefully pointed out), but I think Steve Jobs deserves at least some of the credit in attempting to build that bridge.

One thing that I do credit Steve Jobs for. The fact that he opened up the iPod and iTunes to people on the other side, and making those platform agnostic, was a stroke of marketing genius. Apple introduced a lot of people to their products without making them switch over to the Mac universe. I had an iPod photo, then an iPod touch, then the iPhone 4, all without leaving the Windows world. But the end result is this: Filled with favorable experiences with Apple mobile products, they may then be more willing to plunk down the cash to get, say, a MacBook Pro. Like I said, well done.

In any event, President Obama probably said it best:

…there may be no greater tribute to Steve‚Äôs success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

So thank Steve Jobs for your Apple II when you were a kid; thank him for that Mac you wrote your college thesis on; and thank him for the iPhone on which you found out that he left this world. So long, Steve. Maybe one day I will spring for a MacBook. Give me time to think it over.

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