Kalliel (kalliel) wrote,

always better to be a pirate than join the navy

My first Mac was a big black-and-white desktop. This was 1993, 1994, and I was helping my dad write papers for his Master's program. Lockheed Martin had an agreement that employees could work part-time and continue their graduate study simultaneously, on the assumption that higher learning would help them build and fix satellites, as is Lockheed's goal. So naturally my 'help' was unsolicited and likely not particularly helpful.

But I remember that computer. And I remember that it was not my father's undoubtedly very interesting problem sets that fascinated me.

Computers wrote stories. Computers played games. They had these cool things called floppys that had an entire 1Mb of memory on them! Computers hummed and blinked very often, crashed. (I'm pretty familiar with computers that crashed.)

There were other computers--a cute first gen iMac (teal green) gifted to my father by his father (whose collection of computers, tablets, and other gadgets is without parallel in our family, I am sure), a G3 PowerMac desktop, a G4 PowerMac. A 2003 G3 iBook, a 2004 G4 iBook. Powerbooks of various pedigrees. My present computer, an 2009 Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro.

All of these have three things in common: They spent their lives rode hard and put away wet, they are well-loved, they are Macs.

Obviously, I've never met Steve Jobs. Or Steve Wozniak, for that matter. But when I was sixteen I did a research report on Apple and the Macintosh for school, and I did meet people who have spent their lives dedicated to the same ideas and the same technology that he did. The report was my high schools "I-Search" project, designed to help students begin to imagine their vocational paths. I titled mine--cleverly, I thought at the time!--iSearch. I remember dressing up in borrowed clothes for interviews with Apple Sales Reps, engineers at software start-ups, people who've been at this since the beginning of the personal computer, and earlier. They remain the best primary research experience I've had to date. I remember what I learned: "Steve Jobs is a brilliant, brilliant man. He's also a brilliant, brilliant asshole."

I remember reading Revolution in the Valley, and falling in love with the anecdotes, the energy and intrigue. I remember The Pirates of Silicon Valley, and Helvetica (the latter of which has nothing to do directly with Macs, but the sentiments expressed are the same, and Helvetica has been a default font on Macs since the days of ClarisWorks).

I pulled my first all-nighter (on a Saturday night, no less) finishing that project, and I didn't even care.

I remember Happy Mac. I remember the OSX revolution. I remember the day Apple finally developed decent software for their computers. I remember when they got Pretty, after their strange foray into rounded corners and Technicolor. These are all things that have happened in our lifetimes. And look how far they've come!

I guess what I mean to say is, Apple has been a part of my life since Day 1, and it's personal. And I am truly sad that Steve Jobs will not get to see how far yet the personal computer will go.

But one day in 1974, he was one of the many who dreamed it. (The link leads to a 1985 Playboy interview with Steve Jobs, recently featured on Longform.net.)

Title is in reference to the competition and rivalry between the Apple II and Macintosh teams, circa 1984. Steve Jobs and the others on the Mac team flew the Jolly Roger proudly.
Tags: better to be a pirate than join the navy, don't you cry no more, hell on wheels, these things matter

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