I’d become managing editor of York Student Vision in the final term of my first year at the University of York and, over the summer, my predecessor in the role, Stephen Womack, and the paper’s editor, Hamish Macdonell, had decided to purchase an SE/30.
After three years of cutting-and-pasting hard copy text onto pre-printed printers grids, Vision was moving to desk-top publishing; the first of York’s two newspapers to do so.
In my role, I would be responsible for the production of a 24-page newspaper which, at the time, was distributed to 3,000 students every fortnight on a single Macintosh.
The trouble was, I didn’t know how to use a PC because I’d never had to use one And Vision’s new editor, Tony Sloan, was in the same boat.
Stephen had to teach us how to use a Mac along with the support of a new arrival on campus, the technologically peerless Mathew Lodge.
So the genesis of my lifelong admiration of Apple and its products occurs on a late Summer’s evening in a rented room in York with Stephen’s new Malcolm Mclaren CD, Waltz Darling , humming away in the background and a pack of the, still relatively novel, McVities Chocolate Hobnobs on the go.
I recall the event in vivid detail because the Mac put my mind at ease the moment that I saw my first happy Mac icon appear on the tiny black-and-white screen.
Unlike every computer I had ever encountered up until that point in my life, this PC acknowledged its users were only human; its mimicry of a desktop transforming unutterably complex computing into an interface that was achingly cool and intuitively easy to use.
Here was technology that was so well crafted that you didn’t need to learn to use it; it just let you get on with what you wanted to do.
So within 3 or 4 minutes, I was practicing laying out a standard six-column tabloid, bastard-setting op-ed pages and learning how to scale white space for photographs using Aldus Pagemaker instead.
That’s what made Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s vision of computing so revolutionary: it was personal computing and not a personal computer.
For me, laying out a newspaper on a Mac proved to be a catalyst for an enduring love of design and typography; a vast new world that I had previously taken for granted.
I pored over the editorial design of the elegant Daily Telegraph and utilitarian juxtaposition of Helvetica and Garamond of the radically redesigned Guardian. I studied pull-quotes, grid patterns, leading, kerning and contrasting use of justified and ragged right columnated text. As a consequence, I learned about hands-on design and production of print.
At the end of our year in charge of Vision, for the first time our editorial team was nominated in the category of Best Newspaper at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 1990 – a title which Vision has, subsequently, won time and time again.
Its an achievement that I still consider to be one of the highlights of my life. And its something that was possible thanks to Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Apple.
Under Jobs’s leadership, Apple never wavered from designing stuff – like that little SE/30 – which acknowledged that its users were only human. His unique talent was in creating products and services that recognised that life shouldn’t revolve around technology but that technology should revolve around life.
It was Jobs’s dogged determination to stick to that principle which means that I have stillnever had to learn how to use an Apple product. And it’s why the Apple brand’s influence extends way beyond its technology.
That Apple Macintosh SE/30 enabled me to easily do something that I’d never been able to do before. It opened up a whole world of life-changing interest and possibilities for me.
So, if you ever left wondering why people love Apple so much – or why people would wax lyrically about the death of someone they never actually met – that’s why.
Steve Jobs didn’t just build and sell PCs, he had the vision and imagination to spark the creation of paradigm-shifting technology that helped shape and change the direction of people’s lives.