Thursday, October 06, 2011

Snapshots of Life in a World with Steve Jobs

In 1977, I drove up Peachtree Street to Datamart on Pharr Road in Buckhead.  At the time it may have been the only computer store in Atlanta.  If it wasn't, there weren't many.  I clearly remember, not long after, when only three were listed in the Yellow Pages.  The IMSAI and North Star computers there were wonderful to see, but the star of the store I came for was the Apple II.

I remember seeing a lunar lander game, probably the first time I'd seen computer graphics on a screen and certainly the first time for color graphics.   I also recall a screen filled with BASIC code.  At some point I probably keyed in and ran a bit.

A few years later, my wife and I went to another computer store to see the Apple Lisa.  This was the first time I'd experienced a mouse and windows.  The simple icons on a black and white screen, with a menu at the top, were compelling.

When I started work at Emory University in 1985 we had two Macintosh computers in a computer lab that was two doors down the hall from my office.  In an handful of days we were unboxing a new LaserWriter.  The big three-ring binder, “Inside the LaserWriter,”  filled with loose leaf pages, and Adobe PostScript were a joy.

Just a few years later, my boss' boss had come from serving on the committee representing 25 universities that helped design the NeXT machine.  We received two of first NeXTcubes produced and kept one in our office.  My team named it Rubick.  Not long after that, I had a NeXTslab on my desk.  I was very fortunate to be able to put a NeXTslab, along with a PC and Mac, on the desktop of each of the five full-time professionals in my group.

The NeXT machines and NeXTSTEP were among the most delightful experiences I've ever had using and programming a computer.

Today, the Macbook Pro 13-in is one of the most beautiful computers ever made.  That's the portable system I use now.

I'll miss the moments like these.

Photo by Marie Matthews.