Steve Jobs was my Elvis, JFK and moon landing all wrapped into one. What he created - the company, the products, the way of thinking - profoundly and undeniably changed my life. I am who I am today because Steve Jobs thought differently.
The first time I laid my hands on an Apple computer in elementary school, it changed my life. That is not an overstatement - I knew the first time I played Oregon Trail on an Apple II that this was what I wanted to do.
I really didn't know what this meant, but I knew those devices would eventually be capable of so much more - and I wanted to be part of that in whatever way I could.
The trajectory of my life changed. I'd always known I didn't want to be a doctor, a lawyer or any of the things kids normally aspired to - but computers, especially those nifty Apple computers, made my heart sing. Every week at school, the trip to the computer lab was the most special and memorable time. The awe I felt the day my teacher opened up the magic box to how us what was inside is forever etched in my mind - how could it do all that with so little inside?
I grew up immersed in all things Apple. I learned to program on an Apple II. I learned to create websites on a Mac. I received my degree in Computer Information Technology with the aid of my Mac and my iPhone in hand. I chose these paths because I too believed in the vision of one of the crazy ones.
I read Apple blogs, I stay on top of Apple news, I even have a collection of vintage Macs back in Indiana that includes one of the first Macs ever built. Everything I own has an Apple logo sticker affixed to it and sometimes, I go to Apple stores just because they are there. This is me - this is who I am.
The first computer I ever bought was a Mac. That was almost 15 years ago, now. It wasn't the first Mac I ever owned - but it was the first one I saved for, chose and bought myself - and it was fantastic. That computer, literally, brought me the love of my life, Bil.
We met on AOL - yes, seriously - and every chat in which I cajoled Bil to agree to a date happened on that Mac. The first pictures I saw of him, every drunken email - all of our courtship was enabled by that Mac. One of my biggest regret is that I didn't keep that computer when it came time to replace it. But I did donate it to charity and I imagine it giving joy and inspiring awe in the lives of many kids before it finally fell out of use.
Activism & Bilerico
This very website owes its existence to the Mac. Every iteration of bilerico.com - from Bil's personal website to the Bilerico Project of today - was built and maintained on a Mac. Steve Jobs envisioned a future where the personal computer would revolutionize how we create and consume media - and he helped make that vision real for so many of us.
Even my activist life is powered by Steve's vision. Bil and I launched one of the first LGBT activism campaigns online with our Macs and even today, my Mac enables me to do my job quicker and more efficiently than I could with other tools. My iPhone creates videos where other cameras cannot. My iPad keeps me organized and and provides me comfort through music and entertainment in the daily grind.
And there is so much more - iTunes, iPod, Pixar, NeXT - I have so many stories about how each of these parts of Steve also touched my life and so many more about how his dreams touched mine. I cannot possibly tell them all, which is why this day is so sad for me.
As I sit here writing this - on my Mac with my iPhone in my pocket awaiting a call or text message and my iPad playing music by my side - I am still coming to grips with a world without Steve's passion and vision. Most of us who follow Apple knew this day was coming sooner rather than later, but we didn't want to face a future that was a little less bright, a little less insanely great.
I want the world to know that, I too am one of the crazy ones - I just hope that someday, I can be as crazy as Steve Jobs.
If you haven't already watched the commencement speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005, please do. It is the Steve Jobs everyone should remember.