I arrived in Athens, Ohio, in the fall of 1985. As I moved in at Washington Hall, I met my roommate for the first time. He had all the normal moving into college stuff — clothes, some music, stuff to hang on the walls.
But he also had a small, black vinyl bag, like a little suitcase. It was one of the last things he unpacked. He did so carefully, gently placing the bag and its contents on one of the two desks in the room. I hadn’t seen it before, but I knew what it was.
It was a Macintosh.
My roommate turned out to be kind of a tool, but he said I could use the Mac whenever I wanted. I used it a lot. My mother had an Apple II that I had a hard time deciphering, but the Mac was a whole different experience. No deciphering necessary. Jump in. Start doing.
My roommate and I managed to tolerate each other until January, and I moved to a different room. I didn’t miss him, but I missed that computer, especially after I started working at the student newspaper at OU. There were computers there, sort of. We had these black-box word processors and we had a newer system, which we not-so-lovingly called the POS (that actually stood for something besides Pieces of Shit, which was the common name in the newsroom). We had to code headlines, bylines, different type styles we used in the paper.
And I missed that Mac.
I didn’t return to The Post right away when I returned to Athens after the Army, but when I did, I was in for a nice surprise. We wrote stories on Mac Classics. We did all the design and pagination on Mac Quadras. And if we had technical problems during a late night, it was mostly because of the OOPS, our massive typesetting beast, and not the computers. Again — it was easy.
And since then, I’ve been hooked. Yes, I’ve worked on PCs since I started the professional portion of my career — and I’ve become pretty comfortable with them. But when I’ve had a choice about what we’ve used at home, I’ve always turned to Apple. I had — still have, actually — a Bondi Blue iMac (Rev. B, because I know you’re wondering). That was replaced with an eMac that still lives a happy life in my mother in law’s house. And I’m hoping that the iMac I’m writing this on will be with us for years.
And that says nothing of the other things. The music freak in me is still grateful for the old iPod that allowed me to carry dozens of Grateful Dead, Wilco and Phish shows — with room for plenty more — anywhere I went. And it is not an exaggeration to say that the iPhone is at least partially responsible for me finding the amazing group of friends I have here in Pittsburgh — not to mention having the still not-quite-fully-realized potential for changing how I do my job.
I don’t need Apple devices to do these things these days. I have two Android devices that I use and I like. But Apple still does it better, and it won’t be long until I’m able to happily — and finally — get an iPhone 4.
It wouldn’t quite be accurate to say this is all the responsibility of one man. But on the other hand, I don’t think it’s hard to say that Steve Jobs changed the world — and changed how I live in it.