The news today that Steve Jobs had passed away, was sad enough and tributes to him are appearing thick and fast, including this poignant photo of him on twitter this morning.
This post I guess is my own personal thanks to the man for making a jaded old programer excited about technology again.
My own story starts just mid way through 1985, having left school and quickly finding that academia wasn’t for me I left and found a trainee programmer job with a local shop.
These were interesting times, manufacturers were coming up with crazy kit left right and centre, the computing platforms were many and varied as were the dialects of BASIC. The IBM PC had just come out, PC clones would soon start to appear and Microsoft was starting to make it’s name.
Every project was exciting, all the kit would be different and never wanted to talk over the LAN OOTB ( LANS were new then ), all the programs were different, there were no code frameworks, you had to write everything and mostly everything had to run in 640Kb of RAM or less.
Time passed, as it does, Windows was in it’s ascendency and the technology world became biege, it became safe, samey and indistinct from everything else – in a word boring, and at that time I mentally switched off from hardware. It became an adjacent facet of my everyday work – which was writing software.
Many years later, thanks to a chance meeting on a SharePoint contract, my mate Chris introduced me to the MacBook. Now, I’d obviously not been unaware of Apple kit before then, however I’d just dismissed it all as “just another bunch of crappy hardware” – how wrong could I have been.
Chris (Ok and Lee) introduced the merits and philosophy behind Apple and I (along with a few other guys) converted and I bought my first MacBook White (which I still have and is now running OS X Lion).
It was a bit of a revelation, I found myself excited and interested about the kit, this initial purchase was quickly followed by iPhones, iPads, Mac Minis and a MacBook Pro, and right now i find myself eagerly awaiting the next MacBook Pro and salivating about the iPhone 4S.
So what is it about Apple gear, well it’s difficult to pin down, so I’ll summarise it with a few points;
- Technology should be beautiful to look at, it shouldn’t be biege, it shouldn’t be a metal box
- It should be designed with purpose paying close attention to the smallest ascetic detail in pursuit of the first point
- I like that Apple uses quality, expensive materials in pursuit of points 1 and 2, I’m happy to pay for that
- It should form a part of and enhance my life experience
- Ghz, MBs, RAM, HDs et al are not the raison d’etre
- It shouldn’t get in my face, it should let me get on with my stuff while it gets on with it’s stuff quietly in the background
- Finally, every aspect of the device and its adjacent services should just work