And the tears started welling. I felt like I lost a childhood friend.
I was five years old when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were assembling Apple 1 computers in Steve Jobs' garage.
I was in elementary school the first time I laid eyes on Lisa. My school had her enclosed behind glass, where we would all walk by, jaws dropped, eyes pierced on a beige colored computer that would scroll numbers across the screen. If this wasn't science fiction in the making, I didn't know what was.
I remember being a twelve year old, sitting at my very own computer station, mesmerized by the screen booting and the curser blinking while handling a floppy disk as if it were my mother's best china. "Next stop, aliens", I thought. This was too surreal.
Years later, I was given my first computer book, Programming in Basic. I cant remember what computer I was using at the time but I do recall getting caught cheating and the embarrassment I experienced when my teacher displayed on the blackboard, my 8 by 11 inch cheat sheet covered with giant Sharpee letters and numbers, for all my classmates to see.
It looked something like this:
10 READ A, C
15 IF A = 0 THEN 60
20 FOR D= A TO 10 STEP C
30 PRINT D
40 NEXT A
45 GOTO 10
50 DATA 1,1,2,2,0,0
Since my teacher didn't believe in first-offense cheaters, I got an F and had to retake the class. The following year, I discovered boys and managed to get by with a D. If only I could have stayed focused on my floppy.
In high school, I revelled in the writing of long research papers and holding up traffic at the dot matrix printer.
And two semesters shy of graduating from college, I never learned the importance of backing up my work on my Iomega disk drive (a whopping 100 MB!).
I was writing a research paper for a journalism class entitled, Homosexuality In the Press, was editing page fifteen when I experienced a system crash. That crash not only led me to trash the rest of my paper but it also triggered my renting a Ryder truck the following morning, packing up the contents of my dorm (minus the computer which belonged to some guy named Peter) and dropping out of college. For good. I should never have cheated in that Basic Programming class.
That incident led me to find myself in a small apartment share in the Big Apple that following summer were I was reunited with a PC Think Pad and a dial-up Internet connection. I remember my very talented friend Eric emailing animations he was creating to my juno account, and waiting for days for them to download. And then he told me something only a true nerd would know; take a trip to Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy of the World Wide Web's Internet Yellow Pages for forty bucks. I had no luck finding a hair salon in that internet directory but it was worth the sticker price for all the hours I spent entertaining myself as I typed in URL after URL thinking, "Ooooow...look! Another web page!" This was my initiation into Geekdom.
The summer before the Y2K Scare, I purchased my first Mac; the iMac Bondi Blue. I figured if the whole world was gonna go down come Millennium, well, God dammit, so would I along with my beautiful Bondi Blue (who was Bondi?).
But I was sad to find we weren't soul mates as I hoped we would be. It was a rough start, spending sleepless nights: me, my iMac and my cigarettes, alongside a short glass of Jose Cuervo, trying to master the art of Quark Express. Luckily I had befriended a neighbor upstairs who worked as a graphic artist and answered to my 911 computer calls.
I became synonymous with the cherry bomb. I would beat that machine until it crashed and burned. And then something happened. iMac and I broke up, I met the Mac Mini, said good bye to the cherry bomb and appreciated the growing pains iMac and I had experienced.
Fast forward to 2002. A certified Closeted Geek. Shopping outings with girlfriends were being interrupted by trips to the Soho Apple Store. What did they know, anyway? I has owned over half a dozen macs. Became a Final Cut Junkie. Became a self-proclaimed filmmaker before it was digital. Attempted to master all of Apple's software. Immersed myself in all things computer. Who needed another pair of bootcut jeans.
And it all started with Lisa. In elementary school. Eyes through the glass watching computations I had no idea would have such an impact on our way of life.
Like most of us, I cannot imagine what life would be like without computers. I cannot imagine what life will be like twenty years from now. I have held onto every old hard drive and MacBook, camera and iPod so I can show my kids, years from now, technology that had influenced my path in life.
I am grateful to have been exposed to this and to have experienced technology from such a young age. And we've got Steve Jobs to thank for that.
Thank you, Mr. Jobs, for gracing us with your ingenuity.