Steve Jobs: the other man in my marriage

My new piece at Pajamas Media:

When I met him, Arnie had never even used a computer before. I, on the other hand, had been working on Apples since the late 1980s, when I was helping put out a 16-page newspaper on a 20MB Macintosh SE. (Somehow.)

That thing took so long to start up, I could push the power button at 9 a.m., walk down three flights of stairs, smoke two cigarettes, come back to my desk — and that adorably homely oatmeal colored box was still churning awake, emitting metallic crunching noises that would have been a clue to call a repairman with any other machine in existence.

I didn’t care. I loved everything about Apple computers and dutifully believed that Bill Gates was the Devil incarnate.

Even the pre-GUI interface was cute, and got even cuter as Apple’s design evolved from “corrugated cardboard brick” to today’s sleek, Zen, hip-yet-friendly style — the one that perfectly balances “warm” with “cool.”

I never tire of that C major chord startup chime, and miss the way my huggable “Bondi Blue” iMac “smiled” at me every morning. (Please bring that back.)

My Apple computers weren’t like machines to me. They were more like magical toys.

That — I could almost feel it — loved me back.

So back in 1998, I told Arnie an easy to use Mac was perfect for a novice like him.

Naturally he bought a PC and won’t use anything else.

Denyse O’Leary and I have been having a fun back-and-forth since she posted excerpts from a fellow’s memoir of the early “star up” days in Silicon Valley:

Aside from co-founding MITS, my only direct connection with the Altair 8800 computer was writing the first operator’s manual and developing the kit assembly manual style that I used for the MITS calculator kits. Ed gave me an Altair in exchange for writing the manual, and it’s been on display at the Smithsonian for many years.

I’ve read that Steve Wozniak​ designed the Apple 1 because he could not afford the MITS Altair​ that he saw demonstrated at the Homebrew Computer Club.

We were joking about how if Jobs and Woz tried to start Apple in a garage today, California would fine them $10,000 in zoning violations.

She added:

And do you realize that today, Obama would have BOUGHT that guy an Altair?

It took me a second to “get” it, but yeah:

“Free Altairs on demand!” “No Altair left behind!” “No Altairs, no peace!”

“Altair: too big to fail!”

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