I'll keep the remarks fairly brief, since this is a collective effort. The death of Steve Jobs was nothing if not a noteworthy affair, and as such, has prompted much discussion and debate over his legacy. We at Gay Gamer are no exception, and as such have contrived to present to you, intrepid devourers of words and sentiments, some of our thoughts. There are no doubt some common threads - as it happens, we very much enjoyed Prince of Persia - but such is the nature of our shared memory.
So now, to shamelessly adapt a quote from Stephen Fry (link NSFW), let us all don the print frock of Dame Nostalgia and take a welcome trip - or for those using a Mac, a grand Safari - into what modern science calls, "the past."
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I'll admit to not being much of an Apple guy. Don't get me wrong - I love their gadgets. I love their computers. However, due to cheapness over which I feel no shame, I've always been a Linux person. But there's an altogether bigger reason I feel indebted to Steve Jobs. It has nothing to do with lusting over the newest release of whatever greatness Apple has to offer, but for something Apple did years ago that has changed my life immeasurably for the better. And, since you're reading GayGamer.net, probably your life, too.
In 1984, in large part due to Steve Jobs' own vision, Apple released the Macintosh and essentially created home computing. Without that revolution - one that I believe will ultimately be looked back on as one of the great seismic shifts in human culture - I would not have been able to connect with other gay people. Sure, it happened over a decade later and on a Windows machine, but the facts are as they lie: Without Steve Jobs we would have had no home computers. Without home computers we would have had no internet. And, I am convinced, without the internet, we would have not had the explosion in LGBT rights and acceptance that we have witnessed since 1984.
Without Steve Jobs, the world would be missing much more than iPhones and computers that actually look nice. Without him, there are people the world over who would never have found their voice.
One of the first video games I ever played, and one of which I still have the fondest of memories, was the original Prince of Persia. At my elementary school, we always looked forward to "computer hour": a once-per-week trek into the brave new world of technological fun and frolic. Of course there was the tedious, Mavis Beacon-style educational programs, but for a precious ten minutes, we were afforded the chance to play one of the installed games on our humble little PCs. There was only one Macintosh, which my classmates and I gathered around, like kids in an arcade, to peer over the shoulder of the lucky youngster that managed to strongarm his or her way to this machine - the only one my school could afford.
It was at that point that my love affair with computer gaming began; it was also a defining time for computers as a whole: Primitive as the early Mac OS was, it departed from the notion that computing had to entail the mind-numbing process of inputting esoteric code into a ghastly, monochromatic interface - one performed with any grace mainly by IT professionals - and shepherded us into the modern age. One might say that some other forward-thinking individual would have made the shift to GUI (graphical user interface) in Apple's stead, and undoubtedly this is true, but I'm more than happy to give Steve Jobs a hearty "well done, old sport" for successfully bringing it to fruition.
Without the advances helped by Apple, modern computing would have been set back, if only by a few years. Mass-marketing home computers seems almost comically sensible today - to some extent, it's a wonder it took this long to conceive of why a simple, efficient interface wouldn't be beneficial - but whatever the reason, Jobs & Co. made computing accessible to the common person. It was this simple idea that brought us games, innumerable programs for every conceivable purpose, and most notably (for those currently reading), what middle-aged men of the nineties referred to as "the information superhighway."
So long, Steve; the world of technology is somehow less interesting without you.
I was born and raised with Windows. I remember booting up the family Tandy 1000 with an MS-DOS boot disk in Drive A before running whatever program was in Drive B. It was the most awesome thing when my mom got a computer at school that had Windows 3.1 running on it and I would play games before classes would start. Heh, I got grounded because she walked in on me swearing at Prince of Persia when I died the seventh time in a row. In college I built my own machine and started seeing cracks in Windows when Windows ME didn't play nicely with most of my hardware. XP was an upgrade and I knew how to tweak it, but I would constantly hear about problems people would have with it. But it was just what was. My only experiences with Apple products had been an old Apple IIe when I was little with its black and green screen. I remember the girl next door figured out you could get infinite lives and invincibility in Donkey Kong by, I kid no you not, smacking on the disk drive as the level was loading up. Then there were the candy-colored iMacs and that awful hockey puck mouse. So yeah, there were alternatives, but Windows was still the best option.
Then I bought my first iPod. Despite the amount of music I had, I wasn't willing to buy into the whole mp3 player craze at first. Plus, "iPod" just sounded stupid. But then I found a silver mini for sale and figured what the heck. That was when Apple started infiltrating my life.
Not too long after I realized that iPods were pretty useful devices to have around, I got a job at an office that was at least 95% Apple computers and our tech guy was a card-carrying member of the Cult of Mac. Through him I learned the finer points and nuances of OS X and about Apple hardware in general, and the more I used my work computer the more I realized that perhaps Apple was the way to go. It was just as functional as Windows was, but whereas I had to tweak Windows to make it run like I wanted, OS X more or less ran the way I wanted just naturally. Additionally, Apple had managed to nail aesthetics in a way that Windows machines still aren't quite grasping, and at the time the options were pretty much limited to black or beige boxes, or tacky-as-hell Alienware-esque devices that could be used to land planes.
Then the iPhone came out and I had a nerdgasm. Cell phones and smart phones had never been very usable to me no matter how many functions designers would try to cram into their devices, but the iPhone blew me away. It's still my most heavily used device I own. The iPad I had reservations with, but just like the iPod, once I got my hands on it I realized its usefulness. I'd always enjoyed the idea of tablet computers, but Windows and their hardware makers never failed to disappoint on that front. The iPad, however, has become my substitute laptop when I don't need to do anything too heavy-duty and/or need portability. For example, it's got this wonderful program called ForScore that I keep my sheet music in for the SF Gay Men's Chorus that's more convenient than carrying around a folder and pen with sheets of printouts inside.
And now I have a MacBook, so my conversion is complete. Apple is far from perfect and I could sit down and nitpick flaws in their products, but they have managed to take the computing world in new, interesting, fun, and useful directions in ways that no one else has - and it's all because of Steve Jobs. Apple was not doing well before he took control, but he turned the company around and made it the trend setter that everyone scrambles to imitate. The tech world has been irreversibly changed because of him, and I believe for the better. We had so many areas where we were stagnating and he pushed us forward to show us the awesome things that technology can do. Thank you, Steve. You will be missed.
As someone who's used Microsoft-brand products since DOS was in its third version, I don't have the same affinity for Steve Jobs' passing as many others. At the same time, I don't share much of the misguided malcontent, either. It's easy to resort to focusing on Jobs' later decisions and prejudices--or, worse, to assign him the blame for the holy wars that seem to have cropped up over Apple products in general--but we shouldn't allow ourselves to be short-sighted just because tech moves so quickly. If anything, the fact that his name was used with as much reverence last year as it was in 1984 is telling of his continuing and consistent brilliance.
Just as a 80s sci-fi movie has someone's incomprehensible idea of a computer layout, our lives today would be totally different if the idea of a GUI hadn't arisen just so, and we have Apple to thank for that. Glance at a smartphone--no matter the brand--and you'll see evidence of Apple's ideas for easy icons and multitouch interfaces.
If the founder of the Human Rights Campaign is to be believed, Apple was also an ideal place for the alternative tech designer to get their start. Even today, there aren't enough companies where being queer is an accepted expression, so the fact that Apple continues their stance is worth at least as much praise as the latest iPhone quirk deserves consternation.
And hey: if the Phelps family hates him for his innovation as well, then I like the guy more than ever.