Steve Jobs is dead, and with him a unique episode in technology. I have a slight part in his rise to dominance.
In 1982, I was working as a compositor and layout artist – making pages for local government magazines and a denominational newspaper. I did a course on computers (Burroughs B25s, like proprietary DOS PCs) and discovered I was good at it. So I decided to take the stories on the 8″ floppy discs and insert Compugraphic typesetting codes so that I wouldn’t have to proofread again (how naive!).
I did this in increasingly sophisticated ways, but what I was really waiting for was the newly announced Adobe graphic language (I even got the Red Book and learned to write PostScript programs). Then Apple announced the Macintosh, which, having read about the Lisa and played on some unix graphics workstations, I was really anticipating. They launched it in November 1984 as I recall. We had one by January 1985, and on that 6″ screen I did 10,000 pages of a university’s handbooks in PageMaker, 16 pages at a time.
It handled fonts well (for the time). I was able to do wraparounds. I could set up styles and reuse them consistently across the entire document. I was hooked.
Over the next 20 years I bought, advocated, evangelised and specified Apple products even as Windows tried to catch up. University IT managers insisted we be PC (for “security”) and I fought them, even threatening to take my publishing department out of the university’s internet and buy in commercial feeds, because nothing did graphics as well as Macs.
Then Jobs came back and made OS X on top of his NeXT OS unix, and we were away even further. Every day was a treat of finding out how to do things in an advanced manner. Each upgrade was Christmas. Each new OS capacity allowed us to do things only a Mac could do. Microsoft played catch up, but for years the joke was “Windows [present version] = Mac OS [5 years ago]”.
It’s not so now – we’ve packed the carrying capacity of the OS wars such that there’s not a lot to tell between them apart from bad Microsoft software design philosophies, but I love my Apple because Steve made it great. Reality distortion fields aside, the Mac was just brilliant, and remains so, although it strains under the complexity at times (as does Windows, far more so)
So Steve, I forgive the fact that I didn’t get my cut of the thousands (literally) of Macs that were bought on my recommendation. I forgive that I never got invited to 1 Infinite Loop. I will remember you with great fondness. Thanks.
Later: I should add that he was only a few months older than I am. Too damned young!