10/5/11

Steve Jobs Died today


MACINTOSH SE 30, My first computer


When I learned the news about Steve Jobs death today, I felt touched for this incredible loss. At a relative young age, 56, Jobs still had some years ahead of him full of creativity. He was battling pancreatic cancer since 2004, and had a liver transplant in 2009.

But besides the shock for the loss of such a young life, I in my own personal history, have been touched by Jobs' ingenuity and vision.

My first computer was a Macintosh SE, I bought it used from a friend of my husband, who at the time, had previously bought it from him. My husband brought this computer to Mexico City, while he was doing his field research there in the early nineties.

I got this computer in my third year of college, and despite that it was already an older computer, it was incredibly advanced in comparison to the ones my peer's had. I was so proud of it. So proud that I made a special cover for it, and I would print my college papers with pride. The computer also had some small-scale designing programs, which I used to design invitations, and other things.

I finish my College thesis on it too, brought the computer back to the US when I got married. I also took this Mac SE to my office at the Mexican Consulate in SD where I worked a few years. Finally, I gave this computer to one of my nieces in 1997 (the computer still worked fine, but with the advent of the Internet, it was only good for word processing). She used it for a few more years to write her school papers on it.

Jobs continued to launch innovative products year by year, until he left Apple in 1985, just to return in 1997 as interim CEO. From that point on, Apple has been one of the most innovative companies in the market.

After my first computer, I could never buy a computer that was not a Mac. In the late nineties, Apple was not doing very well, as Jobs was not part of the team. We had a Macintosh Performa, that had middle of the road Internet capacity, but crashed all the time. Obviously, the ingenuity of Jobs was badly needed in Apple. There were also rumors that the whole company was going to disappear. I remember, in the Christmas of 1997, my husband and I had a discussion about switching to regular PC's, since there was a real possibility that Macs were not going to be in the market for very long. It was a tough discussion, something that we did not talk about again, and which I regret, because we may very well could have bought some stocks in the company.

My husband and his brother, who grew up in the Bay Area, have been Mac users since the very first mac computers in the early eighties. They both grew up surrounded by the hippie movement of the 1970´s and the cultural transformations occurring in this area of the country. My brother in law even had a LISA computer (of course in his job, not as a personal computer due to its prohibitive price of almost 10k), an earlier version of the Mac128K, launched officially in 1984 by Jobs, who was still in his twenties.

In 1998, Steve Jobs (already back as Apple CEO) launched the all-in-one computer (which we bought one to replace the slow Mac Performa). A blue and white IMac G3 computer with a keyboard and a mouse, and Internet capacity. I used this computer to write my Master's thesis while spending a year in Rhode Island. My husband bought an I-book for himself, same color than the G3. I also gave this IMac G3 to one of my nephews, who used it for a couple more years in 2003. After the IMac G3, we started to buy mac laptops. We bought I-books (from the colorful ones, to the white and metallic ones). All of them lasting long productive years, and giving us a great service. Right now, I am typing it in my MacBook, which lasted me through half of my graduate school and the whole Dissertation writing process, and has given me a good service for more than three years already. I am a heavy computer user. I can say that.

When you sit in front of a Mac, it is possible to see that the designers actually were thinking about you, the user. The features are user friendly, the design is clean. But this is not the whole story, Jobs actually thought of a computer for personal use, something that at his time, very few people were considering possible, due to the high costs of technology. He also envisioned the computer as an instrument of the human body, not a substitute of the human body as in the paradigm of "artificial technology." It may not seem such a big deal, but actually this last conception has been pivotal for the multiplication of personal computers in our homes and businesses. Computers are here to be human instruments, not human substitutes. Although this is still a dispute, Jobs actually pushed the conception, design and usage of computers as tools, not as substitutes of human experience.

Computers before Apple were thought to be only for the government, rocket scientists or a few illuminati (and very wealthy people). They were big, and expensive. After the work of Steve Jobs, we actually have the aspiration of a computer as personal as we can get it, and this computer is on the market along the other incredible Apple devices such as the I-phone, the I-pad, and the I-pod. It is hard to think of the world of technology without Jobs, more an artist than an engineer, and although he said in 2005 (after he was diagnosed with cancer) that death is the ultimate innovation design that helps replacing the old with the new; it will be very hard to fill his shoes any time soon.

We truly lost a genius who made computing a very human endeavor. Thanks Steve Jobs.

Rest in peace.

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