Macs and I: RIP Steve Jobs

I learned how to use Photoshop and Quark XPress on a Mac II and frequently produced copy for the student newspaper on Mac Classics.

I was paid as a pagesetter and graphic designer on Bondi Blue G3s and Power Mac G4s.

I bought a used G3 from Future Publishing and then, a few years later, I inherited a band new eMac through Black + White Magazine (just about the only material gain we ever made).

I bought an iPod Nano, a iPod Touch and I have an iPhone (I’m on my second). I still use an old Mac Mini at work sometimes.

Needless to say, I’m typing this on my MacBook – I’ve dropped it, twice, down a flight of stairs. It doesn’t have a mark on it. Use most other laptops and the difference in perceived quality is extraordinary. It doesn’t get viruses, it’s never crashed, it works with every device I’ve ever plugged into it. WiFi is a piece of cake. At night it glows, gently.

I bought and used all these devices cos I like them. The interfaces knock most other products into cocked hats; they’re faster than most competitors and they look much nicer.

Every home or work computer you came across before the G3 was a whirring, grey plastic box. Or worse, several grey whirring boxes. They were hideous, they were hard to use, they were frequently shit.

Macs changed all that. They became cool because designers, architects, illustrators and journos used them – and they used them because they were, by far, the best tools for the job. Those people were ‘early’ early adopters and they looked so smug because they knew something most people didn’t.

G3s made Macs more accessible and so much more desirable – and soon they all had iTunes built into them. So people bought iPods. But why carry an iPod and a phone around? The rest, they say…

I’m not blind to Apple’s faults. The proprietary software thing is awful; the Flash thing is infuriating; the sweatshop labour thing predictably depressing (Apple’s ads are bloody awful too, natch). But I love their products.

I have admired Steve Jobs too, without ever learning a huge amount about him. His clarity of purpose and thinking was obvious. His instincts appeared superhuman; his charisma undeniable. I have a feeling he was probably a horrible man to work for.

I felt sad when I learned of is death, because any premature death is sad. His public battle against cancer was sometimes inspiring, sometimes uncomfortable. But I also felt sad because Apple’s rise has tracked with my adult life; there are many memorable moments in my life that I associate with various Apple products. Because of Steve Jobs.

I heard a Radio 4 Thought for the Day today and recognised the voice as Jobs’ – from his 2005 Stanford University address. It’s a good speech but it was the bit at the end about death that stood out – and was used in the Radio 4 clip.

It’s a brilliant example of Jobs’ philosophy – and a bittersweet coda to today’s news, and an era in my life and many others.

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