Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, died this afternoon at age 56, several years younger than I.
In my second career, as a graphic designer (which I occasionally practice today), I was used to using computers to generate type. Those systems were proprietary to the printing trade. I typed away, then processed lengths of photosensitive paper called galleys in lightproof canisters, developed the paper, waxed the back of it with hot wax applied through a screen in the heated wax dispenser, cut out pieces with a #11 exacto knife, and pasted them onto thick cardboard sheets which I had prepared by drawing light blue lines that constructed the pages’ geometry. This was the way of it for decades, including throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.
Starting in 1984 I tracked closely the new Apple Macintosh computers. I knew I didn’t want to try to work on a tiny 9″ screen, and recognized that the typesetting and graphic design industries were about to undergo a transformation unlike any previously seen. (In fact, the entire typesetting industry—which began with Gutenberg centuries earlier—collapsed within about only decade due solely to the capabilities intrinsic to Apple’s Macintosh computing platform). I waited until 1986 or 87 for the first modular Macintosh—which meant that the video displays were separated from the box housing the computer, meaning that I could, and did, get a 19″ grayscale display to show my workspace at size, and a 13″ color secondary display to hold program palettes, various open applications, and for viewing the work in color. Macintosh changed my professional and personal life, as its progeny have likely changed yours. In the 1990s, in addition to designing, I offered software training. I remember literally shaking as I began my first ever software training class in a 12-seat computer lab. Those classes were precursors enabling me to present to larger audiences today.
In a world filled with mediocracy, Steve Jobs gave us excellence through objects of beauty, grace, refinement, and supreme utility.
I’m very sorry Steve’s gone.