Friday, October 7, 2011

The Patience of Job

There are so many brilliant, poignant, effusive tributes to Steve Jobs who died, at 56, of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday, that I won't waste anyone 's time with my own. Besides, I don't have anything to say or add to what's been said (I know, 'why would that stop you this time?' Kiss my chips, bozo.).

As old as I am, I was not alive when Thomas Alva Edison, "The Wizard of Menlo Park," trod the planet. But from what I've read about both, the impact of the latter's departure will be measured in terms defined by the former.

I don't have that kind of poetry or pedigree. I was a freshman at Rutgers College in the fall of 1970, Student ID #601333. I can still remember that, but I jumble the day of birth of our son and cannot recall the birth date of my youngest brother without a cheat sheet (A mind is a terrible thing to waste; and a mime, said the cannibal, is a terrible thing to taste).

One of my classes for Mass Comm was computer programming. The computer (definite article by design) took up almost the entire building behind the quad on George Street in downtown New Brunswick. We all learned how to card punch because that's how you told this thinking machine what to do. You went through HUGE numbers of punch cards for the simplest of functions and one missed keypunch anywhere on the card wasted hours of precious Computer Time.

FORTRAN, COBOL and at least two more languages whose names my memory has suppressed, were the keys to the kingdom and as we trudged along, and our number was legion, we assumed this is how the world would always work from now on. It wasn't 2112 but it was as close as any of us could have ever conceived it to be.

What was Brave and New is now quaint. The garage geniuses hijacked the world. If you're under thirty, nothing else I say about 'back then' will make sense to you. Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the original Captain Crunch, didn't change the world so much as blow it up and build another one. Technology, I was told, is the art of so arranging the world we need not experience it.

As a First Worlder, I cannot imagine my life without the technology that has come along since I've been on the orb (not suggesting cause and effect, but just sayin'). And I cannot conceive of what will be invented, discovered and/or created before I have to leave a forwarding address, but I know you'll enjoy it.

Steve Jobs. iTunes, iPhone, iPad, ICON.
"Weave a circle 'round him thrice and close your eyes with holy dread. For he, on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise."
-bill kenny

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