Thoughts on Apple and Steve Jobs   October 9th, 2011

Reading the eulogies on the passing of Steve Jobs prompted me to comment on my thoughts on Apple and my relationship with their products over the years.

When I was in college, my impression of Macs were that they were toy computers. It was certainly true that in the early 90s, the price differential between Macs and PCs meant that you could get a lot more computing power for your buck on a Windows machine.

Back then I felt that people should be smart enough to use a computer and not have it dumbed down. Macs were used by hippies, or “illiterate bikers” as I quipped to my machead friend Steve after watching one of their commercials back in the dorm at RPI. The whole “Think Different” ad campaign struck me as arrogant, yet I ignored my own engineering-biased hubris.

It’s funny that as I dabbled in writing and video editing and then digital photography, that I didn’t appreciate Macs earlier. I remember being seriously underwhelmed by the desktop video solutions of the late 90s; I’m curious how it would’ve been on Apple products back then, if I could’ve afforded the hardware.

I was first exposed the “Apple Virus” as one independent Macintosh store salesmen called it when I purchased an iPod Gen 4 back in 2004. I smiled at the notion then. The virus was slow to infect, but it got me in the end. I bought an iPhone 3G in February of 2009 and they slowly had me hooked.

I replaced my aging Dell laptop last December with a Macbook Air and the speed and lack of weight were well worth the money. I grew to like and was impressed by the Mac OS as well. This June a hard-drive crash pushed me to finally get the iMac I’d been pondering for months, and I haven’t looked back.

Back in the 90s the power of the machines mattered for the number crunching work I was doing, but in time processors got powerful and cheaper. It’s amazing what we have for computers today and now what matters is the user interface and quality of the software tools.

Steve Jobs understood what took me years to figure out and appreciate, that technology as tools should be simple to use, not as dumbing down, but empowering users to do more with it. After getting tired of crappy software, underwhelming consumer products and complicated tool chains, Apple products stand out, along with Garmin auto GPS units and the TiVo, as shining examples of products that just work.

Thanks for pushing for quality, Steve.


Posted in Thoughts | No Comments »