Where would I be without Steve Jobs?

It is no secret that I have not been a fan of the walled garden that Steve Jobs created around Apple in recent years.

While I can appreciate that the tight control helps ensure a consistent (and I have to say – beautifully designed) user experience, my geeky tendencies fight against it.

But with his recent passing I started musing about how it all began.  How did I get started in the tech industry in the first place?  The results surprised me and, when I really think about it, Steve Jobs was a big part of my life and my career – so here’s the story…

I grew up in East London which, for those not in the know, is the poor part.  Even compared to our neighbors we didn’t have much, and money for education was a luxury we couldn’t afford.

Since my chances of going to university were slim to none (and calling it slim is pushing it) I found myself leaving school at the tender age of 16.

No worries though, I had a plan to become a plasterer.  Yup.  Me.  I even prepared for that by getting an “O level” in plastering (sic).

Reality dealt me a swift slap in the face on that plan when I found out that I had left it too late to apply to the local vocational college and all the spots were gone.

With very few options and, with the winds of fate blowing  strongly, I found myself in a very small company that was working to promote the nascent micro-computer industry (as they were called back then).

I liked that job, even though the pay was awful and I spent 50% of my pay on commuting.  The people were nice, the receptionist taught me to type, and sometimes they had left over goodies from meetings!  The only problem was…I was bored.  I had far too much time on my hands and needed something to do.

Sitting in the middle of the office gathering dust was an Apple IIe – Steve Jobs original masterpiece.  It had a manual, some floppy disks, and a color screen.  Awesome.

With nothing else to do I sat down and started teaching myself to program.  It was easy to use – if a little shy on help when I got things wrong (Syntax error being about the most it would give me).  But before I knew it I had various programs running, fancy graphical shapes whizzing around, and I was looking for a new challenge.

Seeing what I had done one of the consultants in the office signed me up for a government-funded college program that he found in the paper.  I managed to get in and the rest, as they say is history.

Without that Apple IIe I doubt that I would have started in the tech industry, and that would have changed everything.

I may not have known Steve Jobs personally, but he affected my life in ways that I cannot begin to fathom, and I’m sure many other people feel the same.  His creations have democratized technology and, with it, created a whole new world.

So, since life has been good to me, I have to swallow my pride and say a belated “Thanks” Steve.  And if I have fought against some of your later creations well…it’s your own fault…you created me.

Rest in peace.

Steve Jobs - 1955 - 2011

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5 Comments

Filed under Career, Life - or something like it, Technology, The Human Condition

5 responses to “Where would I be without Steve Jobs?

  1. I use Apple products but have never considered myself a “Fan” after all my dad retired with IBM back in the days….but your right Jobs did influence our lives in so many ways. My fifteen year old asked me the other day if the computer genius of “our time” could be thought of like Galio and Michelangelo…I had not thought of it in those terms..but I think so.

    Rest In Peace

    • I agree.

      But Jobs true genius was not technology. It was his ability to make technology accessible and easy to use. This meant people could focus on being video editors (for example) without having to first become experts in computers.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. I use Apple products but have never considered myself a “Fan” after all my dad retired with IBM back in the days….but your right Jobs did influence our lives in so many ways. My fifteen year old asked me the other day if the computer genius of “our time” could be thought of like Galio and Michelangelo…I had not thought of it in those terms..but I think so.
    +1

  3. Hi Barry,

    Did you read his bio by Walter Isaacson? It’s insightful.
    Hey, are you situated on Park Avenue?

    Regards,
    Kelly

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