The internet is buzzing with thank you’s, tributes and more about the passing of Steve Jobs yesterday.
I was 11 or 12 when we got our second computer – the brand new Apple //c. A portable version of the Apple IIe, for the first time in the Apple II line it included a built in 5.25 disk drive and ports for a mouse / joystick, external disc drive, modem and more.
It was on this computer that my formative years were spent – learning BASIC, LOGO, messing with Apple Paint, and playing Choplifter, Bards Tale and Lode Runner (among others) for hours (and days) at time. Lode Runner was the first game I played where I could create my own levels and I would spend days devising clever ways to trap that little guy.
Most importantly, this was the computer that got me online. We had a 300 baud modem, and later purchased a 1200 and then 2400 baud modem which seemed liked the fastest thing ever. I remember begging my dad to let me spend more time on CompuServe, back when it cost $6 / hour to be on the service, just so I could play text adventure games.
Later I would discover the wonderful world of BBSes, and play games online, download software and interact with online communities, all while tying up the one phone line we had in the house.
Almost 10 years ago I bought an Apple //c on Ebay, which has sat in my closet since. Ironically, two weeks ago I decided to pull it out and hook it up, only to realize I didn’t buy any software.
It wouldn’t be until years later that I would buy an Apple product again. This past January, frustrated with my PC for not playing MP3s out of the blue, I grabbed my wife in the middle of a snowstorm and we drove to the Apple store. User her education discount, I bought an iMac and was blown away by the experience – both the shopping experience at an Apple store and OS X. It just worked. I can’t say I’m a fan of iTunes, but thankfully Banshee is available on OS X. Using iMovie, I was able to quickly jump in and edit my home movie footage from Christmas. I imported my photos into iPhoto and quickly and intuitively created a photo book for my wife for our 15th wedding anniversary. Apple’s focus on making products easy to use is phenomenal.
In April, I bought an iPad, and over the summer bought the new MacBook Air. Apple’s combination of software and amazing hardware is a combination that no one can match. Having worked with Apple when the original iMac was first launched, their business practices can leave something to be desired – but they do everything for one reason – their focus on the customer experience trumps everything, and it shows in the products they bring to market.
And the focus started with Steve Jobs, and for that I’m thankful.