Jerame Davis

I Am Sad: Insanely So

Filed By Jerame Davis | October 06, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Geeks, Living
Tags: Apple, Mac, obituary, Steve Jobs

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 steve-jobs-death.jpgundeniably 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?

The Beginnings

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.

Remembering

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.


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Thanks, Jerame.

Be glad you missed computers before Steve Jobs ... including vacuum tubes, punched card readers, and spaghetti code written in FORTRAN.

Jerame and all, I even remember the [= MITS Altair 8080 =] ... and to jump from it to the Apple II in one transformational leap is about as magical as turning water into wine.

I'd like to think that my Fortran was not spaghetti, at least not until I dropped my Hollerith cards. Actually, the days of big iron were exciting and innovative times before computers became personal and (on the client side) far too monopolized. My first was an IBM 360, my oldest a Burroughs 5000 series. I played my first games on a PDP-8.

Rapidly emerging semiconductor technology fueled the industry, and Xerox Parc supplied the secret sauce behind graphic user interfaces (Prof. Lynn Conway made her own remarkable breakthroughs at Parc) But Steve Jobs was unique in his sense of what was cool. Like no one before or after him, Jobs could meld form with function in ways that would ignite the imagination of consumers. In a life cut tragically short, he changed the course of his industry and several more for good measure.

He was our generation's Thomas Edison.

Your iPhone can create videos, but so can my HTC EVO and several others. However, because Sprint and Verizon needed to stay competitive and have an answer to the iPhone, my phone and others now exist. Imitation is the highest for of flattery. His passing saddens my heart.

I came to work for Apple in 2008 and shortly after joining Steve pledged $100,000 to the "NO on Prop 8" campaign. I knew then I was working for the right company!

I'm with you - I was surprised how sad I felt about his passing. I mean sure I'm a geek - but it goes deeper than that. I like what Jon Stewart said, it sort of summarized my feelings about the loss, in particular that it feels like we all, obviously Steve Jobs included, got cheated.

It seems so obvious that he had so much more to give and I have no doubt he would have given us even more amazing technologies to make our world feel just a bit closer together.

I've been particularly struck by the stories of just how much he strove to help people use his technologies to improve their lives. Stories of parents who can communicate with their children in new ways, overcome physical and psychological barriers in ways never thought possible before and conduct research in ways never done before. I was aware of these outcomes, but unaware of just how involved and supportive of those efforts he was personally.

Plus his Stanford speech should be in that nonexistent catalogue of YouTube videos everyone should watch before starting a major endeavor.

In any case - thank you, as always, for sharing this. :)