A brief digression.
Apple Computer was my childhood. My dad bought my first computer, an Apple II+, in 1981. It cost a whopping $4,000, give or take, and for the money included an Epson dot matrix printer, two 5 1/4 floppy disk drives, 64 kilobytes of memory, and a lifelong obsession with Apple.
It’s my most precious possession.
I learned to program by mistake. Through some sort of osmosis I discovered the ctrl-c command, which when pressed would interrupt a program’s runtime. Once I knew that, and after I realized that all those funny lines of text represented actual programs, I was off and running.
In a sense, my teacher was Steve Jobs himself, and all the other wizards at Apple. Since the world wide web hadn’t yet been invented, all I had to go on were the disks that came with my computer. (Although I do remember CompuServe, and before that, The Source. I have, in fact, a very clear memory talking to a chap in Australia via my 300 baud dial-up modem, eight years before America Online.)
I practically memorized the code to Lemonade Stand, and spent my afternoons playing Adventure. When I later wrote my own text adventure game, (which, incidentally, filled an entire floppy disk), and showed it to my high school guidance counselor, I could almost see his jaw drop. To this day I remain convinced that it put me over the top before the Vanderbilt admissions committee. (It also, earlier, scored me a summer apprenticeship teaching computer programming at the University of North Florida.)
Alas, my budding career as a programmer was cut short by a brutal comp sci course my freshman year. I realized only later that I programmed then like I write now—by telling a story. Simply put, the cold logic of modern programming had left me utterly bewildered. Qué será.
I’ve followed Steve Jobs, I think, since the very beginning, when I imagined I could actually be that guy, that cool kid out to change the world. Of course that was years ago.
The news of his passing has hit me especially hard, more so than I would have thought. It feels, oddly enough, like a piece of my own childhood passing. I imagine a lot of people feel this way.
It’s easy to be cynical when confronted with greatness, or to mock achievement, and belittle accomplishment. Steve Jobs’ life was testament to the contrary.
We live in an age of wonder, always.
Rest in peace, Steve.