I was bothered by Steve’s death more than I thought I would be. I have been an Apple user for so long that my entire educational career has been influenced in part by the company and its products. I started using Apples/Macs in 1984 at the start of my teaching career. The old Apple IIe with the green letters and the floppy disk drive was my constant companion. I used to bring this desktop home often and I can still feel the heaviness and awkwardness of carrying the CPU with the monitor and disk drives sandwiched between. I used to have a grade book program on a 5 1/4 floppy which was archaic by today’s standards and all of my lesson plans and handouts were done on that machine. A couple of years later, Gov. Sununu secured legislation that gave each school district enough Apple IIgs computers for each teacher in each New Hampshire school building.
Years later I attended a workshop with colleagues on this new thing called the Internet. Not long after that workshop, I purchased a Mac LCIII which was truly state of the art. I used a 2400 baud modem (v e r y s l o w) and I began connecting to the Net even before browsers were used. Everything in those days was text, but through an early AOL and Compuserve account I was amazed that I could receive AP news live right to my computer and even tap into the card catalog at the UNH library. It took at least 30 seconds to download data each time, but since everything was so new, it didn’t matter. Not long after that, I upgraded the modem and Mosiac was born which allowed one to see web pages with graphics. I was one of the first to use the Internet at my school but I had to use the school’s phone line to do it. Of course, there was no wireless or even wired connections at that point.
My wife Marie and I rented our place out in Rochester, NH in the early 90s out moved in with my father for his remaining years. My Dad, an electrical engineer, was fascinated by the Net and despite my Apple bias, he bought a PC running DOS and later Windows 3.1. I was amazed that the world was so enamored by Windows when Apple had developed this type of interface many years before. But this was before the days of iTunes and iPhones. Dad and I would email each other across his large New England Colonial and then we would chat together about these emails later over dinner.
In 1996 I was offered my first Principalship and I came into a world of PCs. For four years I used a PC running Windows 95 at work but I bought a Mac Powerbook 190 for my non-work life. Merely a few days after it was introduced in 1998, I bought the first iMac which was sold in only one color, Bondi Blue. It held me long enough to reach Harold Martin School, where I was relieved to
discover was an Apple School.
These last 11 years have seen a tremendous change in technology, in large part…truly in large part, to Steve Jobs. Music purchasing and listening was transformed by iTunes, the iTunes store and the iPod. Cell phones have been transformed by the advent of the iPhone. Apple made popular the concept of a smartphone which soon everyone will use. Now the iPad is being utilized as an essential tool in all walks of life and in nearly every industry.
How much does a CEO contribute to his or her company’s ideas, products, and vision? In Steve Jobs’ case, no one has ever had a greater impact on technology in the last 50 years, both within his company and the world. What made Steve so different was the undying love he held for every product that Apple released. When he talked about a new Apple gadget you could tell that if he had to, he would be one of the many standing in line for hours to purchase it. He was proud of his company and its people. He knew precisely his own strengths and weaknesses and he had a vision for his company.
Perhaps the most famous quote traveling around the Internet since his death came from Jobs’ 2005 speech at Stanford’s
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Steve Jobs knew, as we all must, that our time on this earth is finite. We go through life ignoring that fact, partly as a defense mechanism so we don’t go crazy. But the beauty in this
realization is that we have but one chance to use our talents, share a little kindness, and “change the world”. Steve learned through his own mistakes that while we should take everyone’s opinion into account, ultimately our “inner voice” must take precedence. I hope you too “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition”.