Today, like everyone else, I heard about Steve Jobs passing. I was sitting in my office working on my MacBook Pro. My mind didn't go to any of the great quotes or speeches or any of the many products I have owned over the last decade. For me, I was reminded of the third week of my Seventh Grade year, a day when I walked into my school's smaller tech lab and saw a NeXT Cube for the first time.
In rural North Dakota, our High School and Junior High met in the same building, but what we lacked in size we made up for with some of the best computer labs. Three labs in total. The two main labs were filled with the best of early 90s PCs but nothing I hadn't seen at home.
But in our Library we had 5 Macs and then the black thing I had never seen before. Little did I know I was seeing the future, one that wouldn't be appreciated until OpenStep was integrated into what became OS X. Over the next couple of years, that NeXT station and NeXT Cube would be the place where I would first connect to the Internet (BBS, Telnet, Gopher, etc.), it was the first machine I sent an email from, and started learning Shell Scripts.
I also was ruined for every computer purchase I would make later. It was a beautiful machine and it wasn't beige. A small thing, but I can't remember the last time I saw a beige box. Design arrived. It really didn't take off again till Jobs took over Apple again a couple years later, but the reason I even wanted to use the machine was because it looked badass. My inner geek was excited as much about the powerful machine as it was the Design.
If it weren't for that NeXT, maybe one of my other interests would have become a career for me. But I spent lots of time on that workstation. Every time I see the Rand designed logo and pictures of that black box I remember how excited I got about technology and design. For me that above all else is Steve's legacy, he made technology exciting and it was tangible.
Thanks for everything Steve.