Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good-Bye, Steve--We Barely Knew Ye

     Call me sentimental, but Steve Jobs' death threw me.  It's not like I didn't know it was coming.  I'm surprised he lived as long as he did, given the severity of his long-standing illness.  Recently, I was vaguely aware of his impending death, as I had seen touching political cartoons and web-postings about his final days at Apple.

     I remember knowing about Steve when he was that handsome, long-haired college guy.  I never met him, but for some reason, I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on regarding his life and what he was doing with technology.  I admired his tenacity, his intuition, his creativity, and his ability to make me want to go buy everything Apple, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

     Our son, Blake, was in college in the mid-80's, majoring in computer science.  This was about the time Jobs invented the NeXt computer, with a hefty price-tag of $10,000.  Blake was entranced by it.  He asked his dad and me if we would buy it for him.   After we finished laughing at this ludicrous request, we replied that we appreciated his passion for it, but we would not be buying him one.

     Undaunted, Blake went to the bank early Monday morning and borrowed $10,000 against his car, then salivated over his new dream machine when it arrived a few days later.  We all know this was not a popular computer, but twenty-four years later, Blake still has his NeXt in its original packaging.  I hope he can sell it for a fortune some day, then he will be laughing, too--all the way to the bank.

     One year I sent Blake and his dad to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as their Christmas gift.  They were both in nirvana, slurping up all the techno-info they could slurp.  Multiple Jobs sightings made the experience even better.

     When Blake graduated from the University of Kansas, we asked him what he wanted for a gift.  "I want to go to California and attend Steve Jobs' Computer Camp," was his immediate answer.  He probably had been dreaming about this for years, so we honored his request and off he went for another nirvantic experience.

     Blake ended up with a job in the Silicon Valley soon after graduation and I made several trips to California to help him get settled.  One sunny day, he took me sight-seeing in Palo Alto.  One of these sights was Steve Jobs' house.  I was delighted to see Steve playing in the front yard with his children.  This affirmed something I had read about him.  He had two loves:  his work and his family.

     Last Christmas, along with millions of other Steve Jobs fans, I wanted an iPad.  I don't know why I wanted it or what I would do with it after I got it, but I didn't care.  I'm still trying to figure that out almost a year later.  Brilliant marketer, that Steve.

     The day Jobs died, I felt a strange sense of loss.  I knew someone to call who felt exactly like I did about Steve Jobs--my son, Blake.  I needed to console and to be consoled by a person who cared as much as I did about a man I never knew, but one who had done so much for us.

     "In honor of Steve Jobs, I think I'll go buy a new Apple computer," he said when I called him.

     "And I--I think in honor of Steve Jobs, I will go buy a new Apple phone," I replied.

     Steve Jobs really had a hold on us.