Tom Peters suggests that this new empowerment means you’d best brand yourself like Coke, Rolex, Cracker Jacks, and Tom Hilfinger jeans (Peters 1997; Drucker 1999; Drucker 1999)? 

“What am I doing boo-hooing something with a P/E ratio?!!!” I asked myself.

Although I had been involved with Apple for over 15 years in a consultant or advisory capacity, I had only worked for the company as an employee for the last three and a half years.  Why did I feel so… so… so torn, so confused, so lost about leaving the company?  After all it was my choice, based on family needs, to leave Apple.  Wasn’t I at least looking forward to returning to academe, to my research, teaching, and writing?  In wonderment I found myself saying, “Man, what the hell happened?”

“Apple is just an it for Pete’s sake!” I said in frustration.  But that thought faded into a more compelling question, “or is it?—Why did I feel like I was attending a wake?”  It was then I decided to start the journey inside my experience with Apple and its technology over the last 20 plus years of my life.

It was a love attack…  Apple Technology

It was midnight on my birthday, February 12, 1984.  My friend Malcolm told me he bought something I just had to see.  I had finished night skiing at the Alyeska Resort south of Anchorage, Alaska, and hurried to the Alyeska hotel conference breakout room.  I was doing a workshop for the Iditarod School District staff who were holding their annual staff development retreat at the ski resort.  Malcolm was bent over this square white-beige box with a nine-inch black and white screen.   I remember thinking to myself, “A nine-inch screen sure beats my Osborne One’s five-inch green screen.”  But as the temperature dropped to 25 below outside, and I watched over Malcolm’s shoulder, something strange started to happen inside me.

There was no clunky a:erase/.*. !  You just clicked and drug what you didn’t want into a trashcan on the screen!  There was no black curtain of nerdy language between Malcolm and his programs and files.  He just pointed and clicked and dragged, and dropped in file folders, and so much more!  There was this amazing program called, MacPaint, that gave a regular citizen the ability to draw, shade, fill, scale, layer, and change fonts—it empowered the user to… to… to create!

About 12:15 AM Malcolm finally asked, “You want to try it?”  At 4:45 AM I forced myself to slide back my chair from my first Mac experience.  My workshop would start in only four hours.  As I have often remarked over the years, “That night I fell in love with Macintosh and I haven’t fondled another computer since.”

A few months later with my Mac and a program called Aldus PageMaker (Version 1.0a), I was producing newsletters with graphics, headers, columns, and clip art for the Copper River School District in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, an area with a population density of one-tenth of a person per square mile.  Yet my Macintosh gave me the same powerful computing tools as publishing shops in Manhattan, New York, which has a population density of 65,000 people per square mile.  

The Macintosh technology empowered me as an individual, reducing the importance of distance, size and location.  It inspired me.  It stretched me.  To me it was just pure imagination and fun.

“OK,” I said to myself, “so I had fallen love with the Macintosh but was it really Apple’s technology that was making me feel so bad about leaving the company?  That didn’t make sense,” I concluded.  I wasn’t leaving the technology.  As one of my last acts at Apple I had

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© 2011 by Michael J. Johnson