I knew she was worried about his health and probably as horrified as I was at all the rumors swirling around at the moment, some media outlets even reporting that he had gone into cardiac arrest. The reports that he was dead. It seems like a flock of vultures is circling overhead here in Silicon Valley and all I can think is, "This man is a person. He has a family. This is disgusting."
And that got me to thinking about my family and all the ways that Apple products have touched our lives over the years. My mom wrote, "I love Steve because he gives us great products that make our lives easier…packaged beautifully and make us proud to own." So yes, I am going to indulge my dear mom and write a thank you letter to Steve Jobs.
In this letter the words "Steve Jobs" might be synonymous with thousands of different engineers, product managers, evangelists (well, one in particular), UI designers, and software developers, but so be it. Today, in this letter, Steve Jobs represents you all.
Dear Steve Jobs,
Thank you for making great products that make our lives easier. Thank you for thinking about what users want and for making products that we didn't even know we needed.
In the 80's my family's first computer was an Apple IIe. It sat on a desk in the corner of our family room and every time we turned it on the TV picture got all grainy but we didn't care. It was cool, and we loved inserting the floppy disks into the drives to play our games. We were especially proud to own this computer because it was developed in our back yard. As someone who spent the latter half of her childhood in Silicon Valley, I grew up peering into people's garages as I rode by on my bike because you never knew what was going on in there.
When I was in eighth grade (attending the school your daughter attends now), a man came to speak to us (I wish I remember who he was) and told us that by the time we got to college, we'd probably be taking a personal computer with us. I remember thinking how impossible that seemed. Would a computer ever be that portable? As freshman we'd move into the dorms with our extra-long sheets, contraband hot plates, and a computer? I didn't believe it could be true.
By the time I got to college in the late 80s, that was the reality. His prediction had come true. I brought my step-dad's old TRS-80 to college, but many of my friends had Macintoshes, bought at the school bookstore, affordable because of the hefty Apple educational discount. My computer seemed like a relic compared to the Macs and I remember waiting my turn to use my dorm-mates' (or my boyfriend's) computer. I was hooked and knew if I had the choice, I could never own anything but a Mac.
After college I returned to Northern California and went to work in the hi-tech industry. Because I worked in Silicon Valley, every place I ever worked used Macs. The one exception was Silicon Graphics where we were encouraged to use their computers as soon as they developed a word processing application. Until then, Macs sat on everyone's desk so that we had something on which to type our documents. Truth be told, I didn't mind using the SGI machines—they were blazing fast.
I am typing this letter on my beloved MacBook and it's triggering memories of all the Apple products I have owned over the years. Before this I had a PowerBook G4, before that an eMac, before that an assortment of hand-me-downs from my step-dad, another Mac afficionado who cast off his "old" Macs everytime a newer, faster, better one came out. We've had Quadras and PowerMacs and Newtons, and we pushed all of them to their limits.
We were all sad and shocked when you left Apple to make other computers and animated movies. But nothing was sadder than watching our beloved Apple flail in your absence. Long time Mac devotees started buying PCs for the first time (including us, Presario), but then you returned, and Apple fought its way back.
Today we are a family that watches appleTV instead of cable, has a iPod for every member of our family plus an extra, and while I don't 100% love my iPhone 3G (which was a very thoughtful surprise birthday gift from my husband), as a former co-marketing manager for a company that was also an Apple developer, I am awed by the thousands of developers who are creating new apps for the iPhone by the second.
For the past 25 years, my life has been touched by an Apple product in some way almost every single day. When I was 17 I could turn on any Apple computer and know how to work it. The same holds true today. Thank you for ensuring that your products were designed with elegant and intuitive user interfaces (that sometimes blow our minds), and for understanding that as consumers, we never RTFM. People use your products because they work and they look cool. And often times, it's because they look so cool that we are willing to overlook some flaws (like text auto-correct, or white Powerbooks that got dirty, or not enough editing tools in iPhoto, or how everything gets so fingerprinty nowadays...).
Steve, I hope you don't mind me calling you by your first name, I live in your neighborhood. In fact, I live so close to you that I could practically hold my breathe at my front door and reach your front door before exhaling. Even though we don't know each other, as someone who spent most of life in the shadow of your presence, I feel like you are part of my community. We see you out to dinner at your favorite Japanese restaurant. I've seen you walking your dog. And, okay, come clean time, if you found a bit of toilet paper hanging from your tree two years ago on New Years Eve, well, that was just my drunk, idiot brother and husband's way of "celebrating." They admire you, they really do.
Thank you, Steve Jobs. Thank you for creating products that make our lives easier. Thank you for imbuing each and every one with your passion and enthusiasm. Thank you for never having to make me deal with printer drivers. Thank you for iTunes. Thank you for my MacBook which is sheer magic to use. Thank you, even, in some way, for Toy Story and Cars.
I wish you happiness and peace and much better health, and hope you are around to continue inspiring us for a long, long time.
Your neighbor (and satisfied customer),