Thoughts on Steve…

Many people have said many things already, which have brought tears and chuckles, but I’d like to tell a personal story.

A few months ago, I stood in the same room as Steve Jobs, while visiting Apple.  He was walking with Jony Ive and another executive in MacCafè at the mothership.  Standing 50ft from him was paralyzing, yet he was just a guy, walking around with his co-workers with a smile on his face.  I really wanted to walk up to him, but feared security would tackle me and my host may become embarrassed.  I  just watched him and thought, “wow!”

You keep memories of certain things close, like the birth of your child or visiting a breathtaking location.  That image of Steve and Jony walking is one of those memories for me.

Sounds corny maybe, but let’s face it–the man was and remains one of my true heroes.  I aspire to accomplish a small percentage of what he has.  The lessons learned by his entire history is something I think about often.  The company he founded, the products, the reasons behind the products, the people he’s inspired, the comeback and the iPhone have profoundly changed my life.

In 1985, I was fortunate enough to receive my first Mac.  My father did not know anything about computers, but was an expert at consumer electronics (he was in the biz) and loved gadgets.  He also trusted my opinion on computers.  In 1984, I saw my first Mac and was enamored.  The local camera shop was the only Apple dealer in the small town where I resided.  I didn’t know from 1984 Superbowl ads or what was on the cover of Byte or Time, all I saw was the amazing little box with a mouse connected to it.  The signs and point of sale materials intrigued me, but after I sat my butt down in front of the 128k Macintosh, it was hard to pull me away.  At that young age, I was working the mouse, copying and pasting–it was miraculous.  After programming in Microsoft Basic on a TRS-80 Model 4 and running TRS-DOS using 5 1/4 inch double-sided, double-density floppies, this new Macintosh thing was extraordinary.

The Macintosh changed my life.  My perspective of what is possible widened dramatically.

Later that year, I bought some 3.5″ disks and begged the local bank to use their Macintosh for a school project. My teacher was blown away and I got an A just for what I did with MacWrite–clipart was something no one had seen on a document with text around it and proportional-spaced fonts.

So the Mac 512KE and ImageWriter II printer arrived Christmas 1985 and I was absolutely blown away by the computer; moreover that my dad sprang for it.  He read my enthusiasm and knew this was the proper next step for me.  My homework was never the same again.  In fact, school was never the same again.  I completely lost interest in programming and moved onto creating.  I gained a reputation as the “computer whiz” in school, but had limited programming knowledge.  I was the only kid in the whole school district with a Mac.

Since then, even though I consider myself quite proficient (if not expert) on things Microsoft, I’ve always owned a Mac.  Then the iPod came and we all know how that changed our lives.  For me, however, the biggest impact since that original Mac is the iPhone.  I’m not even sure how I lived without it prior to 2007.  It’s truly the phone I always dreamed of when I used to bitch about mobile phones.  Yep, I was that guy who bought a new mobile every 6-months.  I went from Motorola to Nokia to Sony-Ericsson and back to Motorola again and was never quite satisfied.  When I saw the liveblogs of the original iPhone keynote from a hotel room in San Francisco, I nearly cried with overwhelming joy, “someone finally got the mobile phone right!” Two hours later, I was staring at it in a glass enclosure and thinking, “cool.”

The Web also changed my life and is the vehicle on which our company was founded.  A recent visit to the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, California (just a few blocks from Google HQ) taught me that the World-Wide Web was created on a NeXT by Mr. Berners-Lee.

So Steve, his companies, his visions and the teams that he’s inspired truly changed my life on multiple levels and all for the better.  Rest in piece, Mr. Jobs, you will be missed, yet your legacy will continue on forever.  You’ve changed the world for all of us–the rest of us.