Steve Jobs' death has me thinking about computers, and the difference they have made in my life. I am, I think, a bit on the cusp of the online generation--I didn't have a computer or access to one as a kid, aside from a brief stint of playing Math Wizard or some such on a Commodore 64 my stepmother owned. There were, I think, four or five(?) PCs in my high school lab, but no Internet access. My first personal computer was given to me as a high school graduation present. It was Toshiba laptop that must have weighed 20 lbs and shut itself off every night at midnight like it was possessed.
Tempermental Toshiba aside, though, my first year at Reed (1997-98) was when the computer age got real for me. Reed's lab was full of shiny, candy-colored iMacs (Steve Jobs was a non-graduated alumnus). I got my first email address, my first ICQ account (boytoy--I was a much different person at 17). Being online turned slowly from a curiosity to a way of life.
And in the nearly 15 years since, it has become more a way of life every year. The Toshiba was followed by a line of Dells, each one better than the last. I continued to use Macs at Reed and then later in job situations, so I was always fluent in both systems. And, like so many others in my generation and class, life changed when I got my first iPod (I think in 2002).
Now, as the commercials said, I am a Mac. I do all my real personal computing on a MacBook Pro. I have an iPhone (first generation, will probably need replacing soon) and an iPad 2. I love the look and feel of Apple devices. I love the performance. I think the price is worth it. Nothing else I've seen or used has compared. In my suburban, upper middle class 30s, I am Apple's demographic, and I buy and will continue to buy their products like a good demographic should.
These devices improve my life in ways that are hard to quantify. I can write without the save-every-2-minutes-it-might-crash fear my Toshiba taught me. I can communicate with something that fits in my pocket, something that fits in my bag, or something that lives on my couch. i can listen to music and even surf while on the treadmill. More and more, my world is online--that's where my most of my friends live, it's how I stay in touch with my family, and it's how I stay in touch with myself. And these devices go a lot way in facilitating those processes.
Put simply, I think Apple is better. I still use a PC at work and it can't compare with my Macbook Pro by any measure. I've had lots of other cell phones, and my iPhone blows them all out of the water. And the iPad? Well, that's simply the best toy ever. Yes, I realize there is a certain level of cultural snobbery in buying Apple, but there's also a pretty distinct performance advantage. They make good stuff.
So that's my epitaph for the late Steve Jobs. Thanks, Steve, for making such good stuff.