As I sat down with my cup of coffee and my laptop this morning, I was shocked and saddened by the news that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, died yesterday. And I was as equally surprised at my reaction; I cried. Not weeping tears, but the type that sting the back of your eyes and must be wiped away. I read the news stories, and as picture after picture of this man appeared in front of me, my chest felt tight. I was reacting as if I had truly suffered a loss. These feelings led to some serious introspection. I couldn’t begin to imagine why I was reacting this way to the death of a man that I didn’t know. What was wrong with me? (NO, not PMS! The sun has set on that, thank God!)
As I stood staring out at the world around me, with my hands wrapped in a worshipful manner around my coffee cup, the answer came to me. I felt a kinship with the two Steve’s of Apple Computer. Their computers were a huge part of my early life. One of the happiest times in my life, and also one of the most challenging.
As a rueful smile played across my face, I realized that this was the time in my life that defined me the most. It was unlike anything I had trained for, and after the first hour alone in the technology lab that would become my second home for almost thirteen years, I had gone outside, and promptly threw up. I wasn’t sure how I would make that lab work, but I knew I had to work my ass off to prove that a woman could indeed handle this job. I am happy to say I proved to myself that I could not only do the job, I could do it and love it at the same time.
During this time I worked almost exclusively with Apple Computers. I remember leaving for a two week training program and lugging my MAC Classic and huge laser printer along with me. I faced a room full of old men who had once taught shop, woodworking, or in one case was a coach. To say that Dorothy wasn’t in Kansas anymore was an understatement. Me and my little Mac Classic finally won the hearts of these gruff old guys. I taught them how to use a computer and in return, they taught me drafting, how to use a band saw, and that coffee made by a retired Navy guy should be approached with caution. Virgil’s coffee was indeed the precursor to the five hour energy shot. That little computer was not only my right arm, it was my salvation in a room full of hostile natives. Thanks to my computer knowledge, me and my computer were allowed entry into what was, at the time, a male dominated field. I did everything on that computer, it was constant companion.
When I returned to my new lab, armed with my well written procedures and healthy respect for anyone brave enough to change a band saw blade, I realized that almost every lab module that had a computer, contained an Apple. I had an Apple IIe, an Apple IIGS, and my favorite, the Mac Classic. All of these still worked when I left that job a little over ten years later. I never had to worry that these computers would work. The disk drive on the IIe made an awful racket when it was first turned on, but rarely did it fail to work. The program disks wore out before the drives. These computers were workhorses and it is a shame that the educational system didn’t see the folly of leaving Apple and going with other pc’s…Truly an apple and oranges comparison in my opinion. I probably didn’t log two hours of maintenance time in ten years on the Apples under my care, but countless thousands on the other systems. The newer they were, the less they worked consistently. However in education, the bottom line was, and is, price. Having worked with both, I can say with confidence, that you get what you pay for, and Steve Jobs knew this. Anyone that has watched in horror as their Windows operating system crashes before their eyes can tell you it is a sick feeling.
And as I sit typing away on my hp Pavilion, I feel like a traitor. What I know now, and what Steve Jobs knew all along, was that Apple systems were the best, and eventually the world would know this as well. I can certainly say that as a person who has used both and has done so since the, um…let’s say, late infancy, of both systems (yes I had a Tandy Commodore 64 also…And NO, I never had a mainframe computer, but I do remember them without monitors.) that Apple has remained the most consistent in delivering a workhorse operating system that certainly has fewer problems than those I have experienced with any other PC. I miss my Mac every time I attempt to publish something….For me, I know one day I will return to my roots and replace my old laptop with a Mac, and quite honestly, that may be sooner rather than later. I can’t imagine tackling publishing beyond the world of blogging, using my current PC. (Shudder…)
Thank you Steve for a job well done and for the example you set. I hope every teacher around the world is using this teachable moment. I hope they are taking the time to show their students that dreams can be a reality. Lets hope that somewhere in a garage, lab, school, or corporation, there are people young and old creating or inventing something that only few could imagine. My hope, and the hopes of many, is that it is a cure for cancer. So farewell Mr. Jobs, your inventions have carried me and aided me throughout my life, and I for one, will miss you.
Mags (It’s breast cancer awareness month, so go feel your boobies! Yes, I mean you!)