You ever seen a grown man have a desktop computer in a backpack? I hadn’t either until I was about 6 or 7 and my dad on Friday nights would put a mac on the kitchen table for me to play games off of 3.5 inch disks. It was my first experience on a mac, and I remember to be so in awe of the sounds the computer made inside. The clanking of 3.5 inch disk as it was accessed and the boot chime. See back then the operating systems didn’t have protected memory so if an application misbehaved you had to reboot the whole machine. I heard that chime a lot.
My parents divorced when I was in first grade. My dad and mom lived about 50 miles apart so every other weekend when I’d visit my dad he would drive me back to my mom’s either late Sunday night or early Monday morning before school. On this drive we’d pass Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino and my dad would constantly point to me that is where Steve Jobs worked. I of course had no idea who Steve was, but I always associated him not only with Apple but as something I could talk with my dad about. At 8 your typical conversations rotate around times tables and soccer practice
In 1998 it was finally time for my mom to get a computer for herself. We formally had a Packard Bell, but she wouldn’t go near it. The iMac had just come out and after waiting I think it was 90 days it finally arrived and my mom was online for the first time with the screen name Bigmama605. She still has this as her screen name and email address.
What struck me most about the iMac was not the unit itself or the world’s worst mouse it came with, but the packaging. I insisted we keep the box. I kept the box and all the marketing materials and read them like gospel. At that point I realized marketing was what I wanted to do.
In 2000 I was a freshman at Santa Clara University dying to work for Apple. LinkedIn wasn’t around yet so I relied on my Dad’s network of people to get an “in”. I was basically told until I graduate school I would be unable to do much, but there might be something coming up. That “might” was Apple announcing plans for retail stores and after a bit of investigatory work I realized they were opening one in Valley Fair Mall just down the street from school.
In the interview process I was told over 700 people applied and I was lucky to make it that far. The Silver Bullet in the interview was being asked what was the model # for Apple’s mobile variant of the G4 chip. How and why would I know that. Well lucky for me I loved sites like ThinkSecret (which apple shut down) and Macrumors.com enough to have somehow remember it was the 7440 by Motorola. Art Diaz who interviewed me seemed very surprised and within a week I was part of the opening team.
The best part of getting that job was acquiring the first iPod for 50% off. Thanks Steve.
A month before the store opened a few of us slept outside over night on University Avenue waiting for the Palo Alto store to open. Around 7am the next day my dad showed up with Krispy Kreme donuts and hats. We wore them into the opening and I offered Steve one, but he declined.
By 2003 I was a Junior in school and via Ron Johnson I was able to be the first Apple Retail intern ever. If you don’t know the story of how Ron lived under a fake alias at Apple while they assembled their Retail plans its a must read. As an intern I was able to accidentally run into Al Gore, see Apple’s mock store they built to test fixtures and lighting before deploying and of course me emailing the entire intern list asking if anyone wanted to fly down to LA for BT’s Emotional Technology record release party. 6 years later this email came up in a conversation.
Later in 2003 a former professor of mine Fred Hoar passed away. He spoke highly of Jobs due to their involvement together on the launch of Lisa. I emailed Steve to let him know Fred had passed. In typical Steve fashion he replied “I was not aware of his passing. Fred had great soul. Steve.” Probably the greatest email I’ve ever received. Thanks Steve.
In 2008 Christmas was approaching and I wanted to get my girlfriend her first mac. I ordered her a MacBook and shipped it to my office. One problem…I was laid off after the computer arrived. So I walked 1.4 miles home unemployed and carrying this MacBook. My first layoff, her first MacBook.
Fast forward to 2009 I was being interviewed by Tristan Harris and if I remember the story right he actually brought up that email about BT. Apparently he was working at Apple the same time I was there and got the email. Tristan is one of the few people I know who can recount as many Apple Keynotes as me in terms of what was announced and how the introductions of products were made.
On Weds when the news came out about Steve I was very stunned. Apple and especially Steve have played a huge role in not only who I am as a person, but where I look for inspiration. If it wasn’t for him I’d probably be working at a dead end job coasting. Instead i’m working for $0 and out to change the world. I wouldn’t care about software. Instead I cringe at every email I get from a customer who can’t figure out how to use Open Home Pro. Frankly I would look at the world entirely different without his existence and for that I say thank you.
Cheers to you Steve. You were the Original Gangster.