Mr. Jobs’ Machines

A couple of months ago my daughter Sarah and I were prowling around our attic when something in the corner caught her eye. She dragged the box from the pile of junk that surrounded it and brought it into the light.

Sarah is 20 years old, a college junior, and seriously addicted to her iPhone, iPod and other electronic goodies.

“What’s this?”

“An antique.”

“What is it really?

“It’s a computer.”

“This is a computer?”

“Well . . . ” I measured my words carefully then decided to swing for the fences. “Actually, it’s an iPhone want-to-be.”

She gave me a withering look suggesting that senility had, at last, taken hold.

I quickly retreated. “It really is a computer. It’s a Macintosh.  It was the top of the line at the time (this model was a Mac Plus). Your mom and I paid a fortune for it. When I started working at home we decided that I needed a computer. We thought these were the best.”

She pointed to the slot. “What this?”

I tried to explain that the machines ran with disks. Program disks and file disks, although I had a hard drive (another outrageous expense, though be it an after market item and not an Apple) along with an external disk drive. “See that gray box? That’s the hard drive. The keyboard and mouse and external drive and the cables should be in the box somewhere.”

She found everything and scattered the stuff on the attic floor.

“Does it still work?”

“I’m sure it does. Did you find the disks?”

“There’s a box with some things in it that look like thick plastic playing cards. That them?

I nodded. “Want to power it up?

“No,” she said, her interest waning. “I don’t think so.”

I looked at the pile of junk she’d assembled on the floor. This was Steve Jobs’ brainchild, an early step toward the tools that would promote a 24/7 workday and the live-in-the-moment mentality that now affects much of the world. Every generation has its geniuses. Jobs was one of ours. But his creation was also fueled the stuff of dreams, reflecting a time when my wife and I had a freshly minted marriage license, unlimited hopes and unbridled dreams and little else – all we needed or wanted.

We piled the stuff back in the box.

“Why’d you keep this?

I gave the only answer I could think of.

“I don’t know.”

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