Computers, Macs and Steve Jobs

Today the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs passed away. Pancreatic cancer. He was 56 – way too young. The outflowing of emotion around the world was amazing considering he was a CEO of a major company. There’s been a considerable amount of commentary in the press about this so I won’t repeat what they had to say, rather I’ll concentrate on my own thoughts.

I wasn’t one of the Apple faithful who got their start on the Apple ][. I think the only time I played with an Apple ][ at all was in high school, the library got one for cataloguing and the librarian asked for help setting it up, but I really didn’t know what I was doing with the Apple.

My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20 with an awesome 5kb RAM, storage on audio cassette and a 6502 CPU running at 1MHz. You couldn’t do much with it, and soon we upgraded to a Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. This was the computer I have the fondest memories of using. Highly expandable, sprite graphics, faster with a 16bit processor, more RAM and easy to program – this was the computer I wrote my own (crappy) games on, the first computer I got online with (bulletin boards – only academics and the military were using the Internet back then), awesome times. I was in high school, it was early to mid 1980s and computers were new, exciting and going to change the world.

Eventually we outgrew the TI – and the next computer was the Commodore Amiga. I eventually owned a succession of Amigas into the 1990s, the games were awesome, it was faster still with multi-tasking etc. – although there was something missing. It was a lot harder to program the Amiga, I had a few goes at learning using Amiga Basic but never got the hang of it. The books I was using were probably hard too, and I think most programming on the Amiga was actually in C. I didn’t realise it then but I think the golden age of the computer was already over for me. Commodore went bankrupt and eventually I succumbed to the Dark Side and got a PC.

Over the next 15 or so years I’ve owned a number of computers, I used mostly DOS then Windows, everything seemed backwards – I mean honestly all that work configuring CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT to get games to run optimally? I was forever upgrading, dabbled in Linux, eventually I studied and started to work in IT but it never quite had the same appeal.

Then about 4 years ago I got a MacBookPro at work, running OS X. The attention to detail that goes into the products is probably the think I love most about them. Pretty soon I got an iMac and since then I’ve added an iPhone and iPad to the mix – Matt at work calls me a fanboy. Yeah I think I am, I find that the Mac is probably the closest I come to enjoying computers like I did when I was at high school. It doesn’t have the freshness it did back them, but its the closest I’ve come yet.

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