By Dom Cioffi
While I didn’t realize it at the time, on a warm summer day in 1984, the seeds of a lifelong cult worship were irrevocably sown.
I was visiting a neighborhood friend when he mentioned that his parents had just bought him a computer. In today’s world that would be equivalent to someone mentioning that their parents had just bought them a loaf of bread, but in the early 80s, it was a monumental event.
I was moderately curious, so we headed into his bedroom to take a look. In my mind I was expecting a huge apparatus with lots of knobs and flashy lights (à la Univac), but instead I was greeted by a tiny beige box, no bigger than a gasoline can, with an attached keyboard and mouse (although at the time I had no idea what a mouse was).
He said it was an Apple Macintosh and that it was going to change the world. I found this hard to believe until he started showing me what it could do.
Up until that time, my experience with computers involved writing code for my “Intro to BASIC” class in high school. Those of you who remember this course (or one like it) know that it was comparable to shoving a sharp stick in your eye. I hated programming and therefore hated computers, but this little Macintosh-thingy was different.
My friend turned on the device and proceeded to show me how it worked. He finagled fonts into different sizes, drew pixilated smiley faces, and even moved colored boxes around with the click of a mouse. And when he was finished, he did the most amazing thing: He printed it.
The demonstration lasted no more than a half hour, but the residual effect stayed with me forever. I was undeniably hooked on Apple. I went home afterwards and mentioned what I saw to my parents, who were mildly intrigued. My father asked how much one of these “contraptions” cost and I admitted I wasn’t sure.
After a little research, I found out that an Apple Mac with a printer cost roughly $3,000. I didn’t even bother telling my parents; at that price I knew it was off the table.
During my college years owning your own computer was still a rarity. Most of us traveled to the campus computer lab to rent time on workstations (none of which were Macs). I only knew one kid in my dorm who had a Mac and would occasionally ask him to let me fool around with it, which only made me want one more.
But as much as I wanted my own Mac, I still couldn’t justify the sticker price, especially when the computer lab was free.
Soon after graduation, I found myself employed at a newspaper where they had just integrated in-house desktop publishing. We worked on the early Power Mac 6100 series and had one of the first image scanners on the market. I was in heaven, spending every minute I could expanding my creativity.
It wasn’t long before I convinced my wife that we needed a Mac at home (there were rumblings about this thing called the “Internet” and I wanted to be an early adopter). I soon purchased my first Mac, and after spending my days sitting in front of a computer at work, I would go home and do it some more.
I remember the first time I played a video on my Mac computer. It was a little 10-second, 3”x3” clip of Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his “I have a dream” speech. I played it from a compact disk, and it took all the processing power of my computer to get it to work. But when it did, it was magic!
For years I followed the work of Apple founder Steve Jobs, from his early celebrity at Apple, to his unexpected exit as CEO, to his formulation of NeXT, to the promise of Pixar, and finally to his re-ascension at Apple. I was front and center when he announced the iMac, the iBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad – and I dutifully went out and bought all of them.
Today, I am still fully committed to the world of Apple – even though Steve Jobs has been gone for more than a decade. The company has flourished since his untimely departure by adhering to his original principle about making products that people love.
One can only imagine what Apple will produce in the future.
In this week’s feature, “The Adam Project,” we are introduced a company like Apple that has built the ultimate tech device: a time machine. And as you might guess, this leads to all sorts of trouble in the past, present, and future.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, and Mark Ruffalo, “The Adam Project” is a wild ride full of great special effects and high-energy action. The story is a bit clunky at times, but thanks to some great interplay between characters, it’s hardly noticeable.
I’m surprised this level of film came out of Netflix given that it had a big budget, movie theater feel. Check this one out if you’re in the mood for a family-friendly sci-fi romp.
A timely “B” for “The Adam Project.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]