Being There

I am squinting into my SE/30, trying to perfect my HyperCard stack. I am excelling at Brøderbund’s aptly-named “Type!” program even though I can’t master the home row. It is December 17, 1995, and I am gleefully reporting back to my diary (in Word 5.1, of course) that I’ve finally received an AppleDesign Keyboard and an Apple Desktop Bus II Mouse for Chanukah. I am stifling my 2400 baud Global Village modem so my mom doesn’t yell at me to go to bed. I am running AOL 2.5, making (much older) friends in role-playing chatrooms. (I can’t upgrade to AOL 3.0, because it’s simply too big vertically for the 9″ display.) I am exploring eWorld, briefly. I am downloading the System 7 patch that turns the Trash Can into a singing Oscar the Grouch. I am marveling at Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel. I am tunneling into my school’s network and trying to download that one all-important Aldus SuperPaint file all night. I am so excited about finally upgrading to my Power Mac 5500/225, and then my sister walks into the room and makes some remark about how it looks like it’s still black and white like my old one, and I try to explain that it shipped with a grayscale background image and she’s just jealous. I am trying to recreate the amazing infinite loop I found while playing Brickle on my eMate 300. I am slowly, haltingly teaching myself HTML and building pretty damned nice websites. I am fourteen years old at Macworld Expo NY in 1999, moon-eyed at the iBook introduction, snagging as much free swag as I can. Reading John Sculley’s Odyssey. Reading Gil Amelio’s My 500 Days At Apple. Poring over Paul Kunkel’s incredible AppleDesign. Guffawing at Andy Ihnatko’s Colossal Waste of Bandwidth. Posting to MacNN. Pining for something translucent, then something titanium, then something aluminum, then something with a scroll wheel, then something with a Retina Display. Upgrading to System 7. 7.5! OS 7.6! OS 8! OS 9! Installing the Mac OS X Public Beta! Okay, back to OS 9 for a little while.

And now every day I leave the house and I run around this city helping people with Macs figure it all out. They look on with wonder and ask me how I learned to do these things. What can I tell them? I tell them that it’s just like growing up with any language. It is second nature.

But it is only second nature because of you, Steve.