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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

I learned, by reading the manual, how to program a computer on an Apple ][. It was one of the most bizarre and exciting things I've ever done. Like it or not, most of my work for thirty years has come from that fact.

It was on the Apple ][ that I learned binary math, BASIC, 6502 assembly code, and an innate understanding of making things that had no physical reality, but were nonetheless very real.

Steve Jobs made a huge impact on my life. I can't say I'll miss him or that the things he did in the following years made a huge difference for me, but when I was 12 years old, his wondrous little machine mattered something enormous. To be honest, I can't think of any thing that ever made such an impact.

It was huge.

Thanks, Steve. From the heart.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 5th, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
My younger daughter and I actually cried. We are such a Mac family. You're that much younger than I am: my first computer was a Mac, and it was when I was 23, starting grad school. It had a floppy disk that you stuck in that told you how everything worked.
Oct. 5th, 2011 11:58 pm (UTC)
It's made me recapitulate the years. I had an account on one of the most sophisticated Unix machines in Georgia (Athena, she was called, and she was one of the first SparcStations from SUN). I managed to lock her up completely, once, with a badly constructed program, back when this was considered a faux pas.

My thesis at the end of the artificial intelligence and ethics course which got me the account was about how information technology would lead to social isolation where people would only listen to the news and opinion sources that agreed with them. I think I may rest my case on that one.

But the funny bit was when the man who opened my Athena account took me aside and said "Listen. There's something going on that's much more interesting than Gopher. There's this guy at CERN called Tim Berners-Lee who's doing something with hypertext." The year was 1991.
Oct. 6th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
And two years later, the World Wide Web hit the scene! And two years after that, I was working for HBR, fact-checking on the Web.
Oct. 6th, 2011 07:53 am (UTC)
Amazing. How quickly things changed.

Three years later and I installed Linux for the first time (from Debian release 0.93. I still have the floppies somewhere). And then I replaced all the Novell servers around the office in such a way that the DOS, Windows, and Apple computers were using the same server instead of three separate ones.

And then I discovered perl. Wow. What a huge change and what power. For free. It gave me faith in the future. Truly.
Oct. 6th, 2011 08:19 am (UTC)
I know, me too. I can't do any programming, but when I see what the open-source mentality makes possible--I'm thinking primarily of Wikipedia, but other examples would come to mind if I thought longer--it really makes my heart swell.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )