Tag Archives: geeky

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


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