(Originally posted in the Stratford Star newspaper on September 22, 2011, and in the Fairfield Sun on September 29, 2011, both in my “Walsh’s Wonderings” column.)
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written after Steve Jobs announced his retirement as head of Apple, but before he passed away.
I deserve better than this, Steve. We go way back, after all: Remember when “going to the Dark Side” meant using a Windows product? How quaint. Now Microsoft is the kid brother who tries to tag along wherever you go.
Have you forgotten our history? I was weaned on your Apple II computers at Tomlinson Junior High, those beige metal boxes that had all the computing power of today’s Hallmark cards. You were my first, a DOS programming experience that resulted in games where players were faced with ever-worsening options to avoid an inevitably gruesome death. You had me hooked despite your lack of graphics or your white typeface on that daunting black screen. Like dogs, Apple never computed in color.
By comparison, my brother’s IBM PCjr was a white monstrosity that took up our entire desk and weighed almost thirty pounds. Simply clicking on the keyboard made the tabletop wobble like a cartoon chicken. My dad, who’d only recently ushered in the technology era for the Walsh household with a surprise Atari purchase at Christmas, made me fall in love with you all over again when he bought the first Macintosh computer. Apple had changed the game by replacing the black screen/white typeface with… (wait for it) blue screen/black typeface. Still, it was a fraction of the size of the IBM, didn’t require DOS programming to run commands, and it had a mouse. It didn’t do much, but it made a nice clicking noise that sounded like progress.
I’ll admit I’ve had my doubts about you over the years. When my brother brought home the Macintosh II, I felt like the stodgy nun watching Whoopi Goldberg singing and dancing around the convent. Who needed all those pictures, all that color? Computers were for coding. If you wanted flash, watch TV! I stuck with your more pedestrian fare, sinking the last of my student loan money into one of your PowerBook 100 laptops. With a screen the size of my iPhone and the processing speed of my cocker spaniel, it allowed me the freedom to wait for the 10-minute boot-up procedure any place I chose… as long as it came before the 30-minute battery died. All this without all that troublesome color.
Like Leo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic, we clung to each other in a sea of technological change as Bill Gates turned Windows into the industry standard. Companies simply stopped making software for Apple computers. You swore you’d never let go… until you did. When you left Apple, I left. I bought my first Windows computer shortly thereafter, feeling dirty and alone. In the nineties, the dwindling pool of knuckle-draggers who clung to their Macs were mocked much like Betamax users were a decade before.
Unlike Leo, however, you did come back. You tried to woo me with the glitzy iMac and G4 Cube, but it was your iPod that reminded me what we once had together. In an act of surrender that would make Winslet proud, I’ve given myself completely to you over these past ten years, with iPods leading to iMacs leading to iPhones leading to iPads. I have shown you the monogamy you failed to uphold when you first left in 1985, only to see that you’re leaving me again with unfinished business. When you announced your resignation last month, you renounced the ability to right the wrong you have committed against me these last four years: the butchering of my very name.
If you, like me, have succumbed to the charms of Jobs and his iPhone, you can see for yourself: Every time I write “Rob” in my texts, it is changed to “Ron” using auto-correct. I know there are other Robs out there who feel as I do, mainly that Rons are not important enough to merit this “correction.” I mean, outside of the occasional Weasley, Howard, Popeil or MacDonald, how many famous Rons have there been? Robs are not only better represented throughout history, but the word itself functions as both a proper noun AND a verb! Defined in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as, “To deprive unjustly of something belonging to, desired by, or legally due someone,” it’s clear I deserve better at your hands, Steve. Don’t rob me of my name.
Regardless, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Yours truly,