a personal history of steve jobs

Steve Jobs designed inspirational products. I remember, age eight, waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep because I was so excited to use MacPaint on our fat mac, fat because it had 512K of RAM as opposed to the original Mac 128K, the first Mac. It was 1984; a few months after coming home with the fat mac, dad bought a mammoth 10 megabyte hard drive, which couldn’t boot the machine – you had to boot with a floppy. 10 megabytes of disk space seemed impossibly large, a thousand MacPaint documents at least. I would run down to the basement, turn on the fat mac, wait about fifteen minutes for the thing to boot up, and sit there and fly around on the mouse making designs, all the different paint brushes, the circle, the square, omg the fill tool, the symmetry function that would automatically paint the inverse of what you were painting on the other side of the screen.

I would launch MacWrite and just start typing shit because word processing was so god damn cool, the blinking cursor, cut/copy/paste, these were amazing new concepts. We subscribed to MacWorld and then MacUser, I couldn’t wait until these magazines arrived every month. My dad brought home more software, like PageMaker, a piece of software that launched the industry that used to be called desktop publishing but is now so ubiquitous that it has replaced all the alternatives and now has no name. I started a club called the PQRS club, for the sole purpose of having a newsletter that I could draft in PageMaker, I just needed some reason to use PageMaker. There were three members of the club, myself, my best friend Rafael Steptoe, and my sister Rebecca. We would have these meetings in our endless backyard in this ditch that was our hideout. I talked about throwing Rebecca out of the club but Rafe said no, she’s cool, she can stay in the club. What a little asshole of a ten year old I was.

My dad brought home the first spreadsheet, Microsoft Multiplan, the precursor to Excel. It was amazing, I started playing around with the functions and that was when I learned to love math. In middle school I made money teaching people how to use Excel and ended up with a minor in mathematics in college. We moved to houston and I joined HMUG, the Houston Macintosh Users Group. I ran a BBS on our 2400 baud modem (the software to host these BBS’s was called Red Ryder) and ran up insane phone bills that my dad still sometimes brings up. I was reading about Macs and computing all the time, would run home from school and start in with the Mac, by that time we had been through the Mac Plus, Mac SE, SE/30, and were on to the Mac II, full color, holy shit. I discovered online chess and became addicted. I had a new set of megadork friends and was fucking around with computers all day with them.

And then I discovered basketball, and then girls. I stopped reading the computer mags, eventually dad canceled the subscriptions. I started hanging out with a different group, these were handsome jewish guys who talked about sports and getting laid, and even occasionally got laid. Went to college, and after a year working a shitty clerical job I found a position with apple in tech support on campus, this was the best job I ever had and sparked a bit of a computer geek renaissance. The internet was being born, I loved going to work. I had the first homepage basically ever, in fact I started a club (the longhorn motorcycle association) just so I could have a homepage, because there was no way for individuals to have homepages then, I remember the URL: http://utxvms.cc.utexas.edu/~lma. When domains opened up to the public, I claimed mrfantasy.net, at this point people were paying me to build websites for them, it is hilarious to think of this now.

And then I fell in love and stopped caring about computers as much, left the microcenter, took a job as a motorcycle mechanic, moved to bangkok, went to med school. and now I just use computers like everyone else and cede the pole position to my friends in the industry and the IT people at my hospital.

I can’t think of anyone whom I haven’t met who has affected the trajectory of my life like Steve Jobs. God bless Steve Jobs, visionary titan of personal computing, god bless apple computer.

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