For the rest of us…

October 10, 2011 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

AppleWhen I was a senior in high school, I was required to take a computer programming class. I’m probably dating myself by telling you we were learning the Fortran language.

Well, “we” might be overstating it. Some people in my class were definitely learning it. I wasn’t one of them.

Computer programming (and by extension, all things computer related) was just one of those things that didn’t connect up in my brain. And this wasn’t like Chemistry class the year before, when during the last two weeks of class, it suddenly hit me in a flash of comperehension. As Mrs. Hamilton droned on in the front of the room, I was staring blankly ahead, wondering why on earth she had decided on that hair cut, when just like that: It all made sense. The Periodic Table, the formulas, all of it. The proverbial lightbulb illuminating above my head.

There would be no blinding flash of the not-so-obvious for me in computer class. I only passed by the skin of my teeth and through the kindness (or exasperation—there was a lot of begging and pleading) of our teacher.

After graduation I headed to college with my Smith-Corona typewriter and never looked back. I did have a roommate who owned a fancy Brother typewriter that made me think computers might not be such a bad thing. It wasn’t officially a computer in any form that I’d ever seen (no strange lines of code required), but it stored what you typed and then waited as you fed paper into the roller, shooting out your beautifully typed pages one at a time. That was cool.

But it did nothing to really persuade me that computers would be in any way a part of my life. So when my California-born Econ professor, who was something of a mentor to me, kept trying to convince me to apply for a job at Apple Computers when I graduated (“It’s such a cool place to work! It’s on the cutting edge of everything! And Cupertino’s so beautiful!”), well, once again, I just didn’t get it. I knew what Apple was. Sort of. To me it was an enigmatic company with plenty of bravado, daring commercials and creations that were revolutionizing…uh, something. But in 1989, I wasn’t sure exactly what.

My professor wrote letters of recommendations for me to use when I applied for that job at Apple. If I look long and hard enough, I’ll probably find them in an old box somewhere in a closet.

About a year into my first job out of college, doing grunt-work in the Campaign Department at United Way, I befriended my counterpart in the Marketing Department. She showed me something magical. She was creating these documents with graphics and columns and all different kinds of fonts—these publications—and she was doing it on a computer that looked like no other computer I’d ever seen. The Macintosh.

I was a goner.

I learned to use the mouse. And then I learned to draw pictures. I learned to put words in beautiful type and make it look like the newspaper, or a book, or a brochure. It printed out just like it looked on the screen!

I never needed to type in one single line of code. I highlighted and double-clicked. I learned to organize my files by dragging them onto pictures of folders. Or get rid of them by dragging them over to the trash can!

I learned it all in about three days.

And I never looked back. My career moved in directions I’d never anticipated and never could have planned. And it was because of a computer, of all things. A computer for the rest of us.



Entry filed under: Inspiration.

Take THAT, Fashion Expert Sherry-Glazed Apple Cake

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