Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steven Paul "Steve" Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

Many of us mark points in our history over the past several decades by the model of Apple Computer, IPhone or IPad we were using, in my case starting with the Lisa in 1983, followed shortly by the Classic 128K the following year.  I had an office in Elliott Hall at the U of Minnesota and was knee deep in behavioral pharmacology research, writing grant applications and articles for publication. Like some of us early adopters I mistakenly fell for the so-called Apple Portable in ‘89 that was about as portable as a suitcase filled with books, actually it was 16 pounds.  I can’t remember if I used it for a paperweight or what, but it was a mistake.

I had the good fortune of using a '93 Mac Color Classic for awhile, but what really changed my life was the Powerbook G3 in 1998, a real honest to goodness, bonafide portable computer, dark grey with smooth lines that you could carry around and use to make presentations at classes and conferences.  Seriously cool beans. That year I was Director of the Kennedy Center at Vanderbilt and carried it with me on every trip to Washington or other schmoozing visits. I used it so much the dull gray shell began to turn shiny where my wrists rubbed on it. 

My second big Apple mistake, though I can’t really blame it on Steve Jobs, was due to my own greed, believing more is better, was the 17” Titanium G4 portable in 2001, with a gorgeous, huge screen, but it turned out was really much too big to schlep around in a brief case, just managing to get it wiggled out for airport scanners.  I got an IPod, but have to confess that I never used it as much as I expected. It didn’t really ring my bell.  I guess maybe if I sat on the school bus zoning out I might like it, but I don’t do that much any more.

I found myself almost entirely using my 15” MacBook Pro which had replaced the 15" aluminum PowerBook, and it looked almost identical. It was an incredible workhorse and easy to tote around.  It worked extremely well and wan't even ugly, like you somehow expect hard working devices to be.

 I wasn’t one of those who lined up for hours on June 30, 2007 for my brand spanking new IPhone, but I managed to get one within a few weeks of release.  Now that was entirely different, it could be an IPod or a phone or PDA.  And now I own the IPhone 3GS, and am salivating to get my hands on the 4S.  Right now I alternate between my IPad that I purchased in 2010, my MacBook 13” portable and my IPhone 3GS.  The IPad goes with me on the plane for long trips, like to Amsterdam, to watch movies (gorgeous video), listen to music and play mind-numbing, time-consuming games. Talk about stunningly beautiful, the IPad is a joy to behold.  When the new IPad has the ability to transfer documents files like a MacBook, I may switch to an IPad and use it for nearly everything.

Because of my Macs, I have been able to write five books over the past 8 years, including creating most of the illustrations, and developed and maintained this Blog and my own website, Autism Treatment,   Not bad for a guy who grew up with a block of ice in the icebox in his kitchen and a black dial phone and an RCA"magic eye" radio in the living room. 

What is it about Apple devices and systems that make people like me entirely devoted to them?  First of all, they are incredibly user friendly; Apple introduced iconic navigation and the mouse and track pad. The Mac OS works smoothly, usually, and there are few crashes.  Second, they do exactly what you need them to do with no BS.  No funny looking code or systems tricks to navigate to make it work.  There are few if any viruses.  Third, if you do have trouble figuring out how to make something work, you go to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store and the problems are solved, like that.  Courteously, with no BS.  And finally, maybe as important as anything else, they are stunningly beautiful devices.  If there is technological eye candy, this is it.  Why else do you think all those people are lined up in the Apple Store waiting to fondle an IBook Air or an IPad 2?

I’ve been trying to think about someone other than Steve Jobs whose creative achievements, have become such an integral part of my life.  I can’t.  Steve deserves an enormous amount of credit for changing the world for the better, which few of us can say we have done over our lifetime.  

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