I am the proverbial sap, so I will admit to tears when I heard of Steve Jobs death. His inventions have played a major part in my life. As a person with a visual impairment. The Mac was and continues to be the great equalizer. Maybe if the fates had been different, I’d have been a fan of Mr. Gates and his machines, but in 1986 I was a Freshman and Boston College was an Apple campus. My bonus Dad Dennis nominated me for grant from a Philadelphia area charitable foundation. I was given $3,000 to purchase a computer a printer and an external monitor (unheard of at the time, I was a test case).
The computer was cutting edge, an Apple Macintosh 512ke. The e meant it read double-sided floppy disks. They were the NEW disks, the 3.5 inch disks in the hard plastic shells. That computer and all that have followed changed my life for the better. I was the only person on my dorm floor with a computer AND a printer. I traded many a chocolate chip cookie for time at the keyboard. The following summer a job in the university’s IT department dropped in my lap. A Fortuitous occurrence, but only possible because of the skills I had already developed. I was blessed to have an amazing boss. Mary believed we were there to learn as much as work. She would hand me software (Excel, MS File, PageMaker) and tell me to learn how to use it because I’d be assisting in the training classes the next month. When I was staring down the barrel of graduation with no idea what I wanted to do next, Mary pointed out that I was pretty good at my job (training and technical support) and that I could even pursue a Master’s degree. So, I did.
Mac operations and technical support came easy to me. For the first time, I was known for my skills and expertise and not my visual impairment and blonde hair. I worked in Mac tech support for more than ten years. I was briefly dual platform, but Windoze, just never made sense to me.
All these years and careers later and I’m still a diehard Apple user. A Macbook, iPod, iPhone and iPad are all part of my daily routine (yes, I’m spoiled). I use the phone to take pictures of menus at a distance so I can enlarge them and read them. My kids are using the iPad to download books for the visually impaired. With the Read2Go app, they can make the font as big as they need it and change the color of the text and the background for minimum eye strain and maximum contrast.
Could all these things be done on other devices? Sure, but I would argue that Apple did it first and Apple does it better. Their commitment to ease of use and effective interface design has changed everything.
Jobs was a visionary. I hear he could be a challenge to work for, but you really can’t argue with the results he garnered. Rest in Peace Mr. Jobs, you left an indelible mark on this world and I for one am extremely grateful for all you accomplished.