When I was 12, I earned my first computer by helping scrape a hundred years of paint off my uncle’s house. It was an Apple II, one of the first thousand made. This was back when a computer came with nothing on it except a simple operating system and, if you were lucky, the BASIC programming language. To some, this would be intimidating. To me, it was the start of an adventure I’ve been living my whole life.
That computer was my first experience with unrestricted creativity: a completely blank tool that, if you were willing to work, could be molded to the whims of your imagination. With it, you could explore your ideas and push against the boundaries of your abilities, constantly discovering new things about yourself. The first serious program I wrote was a painting program, a sort of ur-Photoshop, and a harbinger for my future life as an artist.
On that computer, I learned how to program, how to problem-solve, how to create, how to design. On that computer I discovered a fascination with art and a skill for design. I wrote drawing programs and created music. I learned the magic of coding, and the beauty of a well-designed interface. I sketched out imaginary worlds and dreamed about starting my own game company. It started me on the path of curiosity, learning, and creativity. It helped form the foundation for my career as a designer and an artist.
So, thank you Steve. You’ve done so much since them, but to me your biggest accomplishment will always be that little beige box you and Woz made back in your garage. It helped form my identity, it helped shape my life. Thank you.
Here are some other people’s tributes:
- Daring Fireball: “Universe Dented, Grass Underfoot”
- Panic Software’s tribute
- XKCD’s perfect comic (be sure hover your mouse over the image to read the ALT text)
- Wil Wheaton: Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life
- John Scalzi: “…helping me to become me”