When I purchased my first Apple in 1992 my friends scoffed. It was the ramp up of an age. The beginning of a new way we would live our lives – with a computer in each of our homes. Many still didn’t own one. “Why” many questioned would I differentiate myself with this product that had far less software, appeared to have less support, certainly had less market share and proliferation and many believed had less of a future than a dominate PC?
But Steve and others at Apple believed that a computer could be friendlier. It could be simple. It could have interfaces that were intuitive. It could ultimately grow and expand to include creative programs and solutions to how we handle our photos, how to integrate our music, how to take a risk and attempt to edit our own videos. This list is endless. We discussed this at work this morning and to the doubters, most of them two generations younger than I who have only known a world with a computer in every home, I felt confident in pointing out everything a PC is today is a direct benefit of Apple showing us it was possible. That these devices could be so much more than a games machine and a word processor. I feel so grateful today that I got to see a company grow from infancy to the amazing success story it is today. For those of us who were loyal from the beginning and who endured the puzzled looks from the rest of the computer world, who simply “didn’t get it” – know that without the perseverance and vision of so many of the people at Apple, under Steve Jobs – we just wouldn’t enjoy life in the same way we enjoy it today. And that is all of us, not just the Apple family.
In 2001, when I was working at UC Davis, my department was literally the last place to find Mac’s anywhere on campus. Thankfully my mentor and boss Winnie was also a Mac person. We had agreed that there would fight to maintain the last Mac and Apple product space for students to use. Little did we know we’d have difficulty with the University. They had decided that we’d be entirely a PC world and that our last resevoir of Apple hope was going to be dismantled.
They wouldn’t allow a purchase order I submitted to go through because it was for Apple products and this conflicted with their new found appreciation for all things non-Apple. We were so fortunate the Apple rep recognized our plight when I conveyed to him our situation and dedication. The new iMacs in all their illustrious turquoise compactness were out and they worked with us to undercut the price all the competitors. They also included a free G3 and a 23″ Cinema Display – at the time cutting edge and awe invoking. It was the centerpiece of our computer resource center at the Cross-Cultural Center. And the day the students came in and saw the new technology – they gave up their grumbling about why we weren’t like every other computer lab on campus and they embraced what they could do with these new computers. We sent Apple a “thank you” with a photo of the many happy faces around our new hardware, and Apple thankfully footed the bill for the banner we flew outside the center announcing the new iMac was HERE. And, only HERE.
When I returned to campus recently and sat with a former colleague in another department as she peeked around her new 24″ cinema display and chatted between bites of her sandwich, I commented how much I admired her new Apple monitor. “You know”, she said “When they said they were replacing my old Dell with this I was worried, but it’s the nicest equipment the Univeristy has ever provided”. It was nice to know that a decade earlier, a few die hard fans and Apple had managed to keep the dream alive.
To so many legions who now appear to “get it” and are discovering Apple to be the amazing find we knew it was all along – we know more than any – what an accomplishment the team at Apple has achieved. Not just in the innovation which required brilliance but in the courage it required to overcome the obstacle of pessimism, disbelief and those who just couldn’t envision that it could be done.
Is Steve Jobs the Edison or Henry Ford of our time? I don’t know. I suppose history and time will sort those questions out. Our hearts are heavy, but our hats are off. We’ll miss you Steve Jobs.