I had planned a different post, the trip to Boston last weekend, but that will have to wait.
I didn’t really know much about Apple, or had heard of Steve Jobs, until 1987 when my employer at the time, KMG, merged with Peat Marwick. We were an MS-DOS firm, they were an Apple shop. A calculation was made and it was decided it was cheaper to rewrite our DOS programs for Macintosh. The next couple of years we had a blast learning about and developing Mac apps. And getting drawn into the Apple culture.
I attended my first Apple developer conference in 1989 in San Jose. My first trip to the US. The registration lines for the conference were long, stretched out way outside the convention center. People were grumpy, I was grumpy. Finally we got inside and into the main hall. We were delighting in complaining to each other about how Apple got this wrong, the long way we traveled to get here, the …. The lights dim, the music swells and on the two enormous screens the 1984 commercial starts playing: “and you will know why 1984 won’t be like 1984!”
Oh we knew.
Gone were the complaints about the long line, the long wait outside. We were going to change the world one person at the time!
Since that event I believed. I knew two things. I wanted to live in Silicon Valley and I wanted to work for Apple. It took some years to fulfill this dream but it came true. With the help of Jeroen in 1993 I landed a job with Apple in the UK. With the help of my manager Kate I secured a transition to Cupertino in January 1997.
Before all that happened I read John Scully’s Odyssey, his story about his journey as CEO of Apple. Which is how I got to learn about Steve and the characters that built the first Macintosh: Bill Atkinson, Andy Herzfeld, Chris Espinosa and many others.
It changed my life. I wanted to strive for the best, be uncompromising, to impact, inspire and change lives of those within my reach, build the most beautiful things I can. Care about how I view me and not how others view me.
My move to Cupertino in January was just after Apple acquired NeXT, or as the inside joke went, NeXT acquired Apple. I was the product manager for OpenDoc. I knew quickly this wasn’t to last long and indeed in March Apple laid me off. A little before I met Steve. He asked me what I was working on. I stuttered and stumbled. I didn’t make an impression but he did.
I moved on to work for Sun and then on relocating to Rochester eventually returning back to the profession of software engineer and joining Odyssey Software.
I wish to be able to call Steve Jobs a friend but I can’t. That’s okay. I am content knowing that I knew him and that he impacted my life.
Think differently. Be insanely great.