West Coast Computer Faire

Steve Jobs changed my life

Dear Mrs. Jobs,

My condolences for your loss.

I walked up to your husband in 1984 at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco and asked him to give me a then brand new Macintosh computer to take with me to Alaska to work with students and adults with learning disabilities. We talked for a few minutes and by the time I returned home to Oregon the Macintosh was waiting for me. In short order that computer changed my life and the lives of the people in Alaska I worked with.

The Macintosh allowed me to experience my own intelligence, separate from my learning disability for the first time in my life. In turn, I helped thousands of other people all over the world experience the same thing.

I met Steve only once more many years later in an Apple Education Advisory Board meeting I was part of but the size and format of the meeting never allowed me to pull him aside and thank him for what he’d done for me.

Steve’s vision has changed millions of lives all over the world. I’m one of those people.

Thank you for what your husband did for me.



switcher_aboutI was a very early Mac user, having gotten my first one (an early production 128K model) from Steve Jobs and Mike Murray at the West Coast Computer Faire in late 1984. Once I had it I did what most people do who get something new, I looked for other early adopters. At the time I was living in Eugene, Oregon and the place for Apple users to hang out was The Computer Store. So, even though I’d not gotten my Mac from them I went down there and hung out.

Over the next few months as more people in Eugene started getting Macs I thought it might be a good idea to start a Macintosh users group as I’d had great luck with the PC users group I was a member of. So, I got a list of names from The Computer Store and called them all up and we came up with a time to meet at the store. The group grew and we moved from the store into a more public meeting room and in time it evolved into a full-fledged Macintosh users group.

A group of the most die hard of us (including me, of course) decided to attend the first Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

Macworld and the companies that exhibited at it was a lot smaller and more personal in those days and as we were walking around the show floor we spotted various members of the original Mac team who had rock star status.

We spotted Andy Hertzfeld walking around the show floor with his worn out backpack on. I walked over, tapped him on the shoulder and said “hi Andy” and he said, “hi, are you guys serious Mac users? If so, I have something I want to show you.”

I said that we were and he walked over to the nearest booth which happened to be the MacBottom booth (early HD that sat under the Mac) and asked if he could use one of their machines. The guy in the booth hesitated but we all simultaneously told him that Andy was a member of the core Mac team and he calmed down.

Andy was talking a mile a minute while loading the contents of a single disk into the Mac. Then he was messing around with stuff we’d not seen before (setting up a switcher set) and then he said, “check this out.”

He hit the little arrow and the screen shifted from MacPaint to MacWrite and he hit it again and it came back to MacPaint.

He said “So, what do you think?”

We were speechless.

Unlike the others in my group, I had used Memory Shift on a PC and had a sense of what he was doing but still, the animation made it so much better.

After we told him we loved it he reached into his pack and gave each of us a disk with Switcher on it. It wasn’t shipping yet and he asked for our feedback.

I still have that disk and will always remember how wonderful it was to experience Andy’s generosity and enthusiasm for something he enjoyed making and sharing.

For more background on Switcher and Andy, see Switcher at Folklore.org.