Hello, I wrote most of this before the "Pirates of Silicon Valley"ā
exploded your mailbox and I planned to hold it a few weeks while things
died down ... I should have figured that would not happen for quite a
while :-) I apologize in advance if this gets a little rambling, but I
guess the idea of writing a letter to an inspiration and a hero has me
thinking in several directions at the same time. Anyway, I consider you
one of my heroes for 2 reasons: your place in history (Iāll talk more
about how that has affected me) and your current conviction to live your
dream (and be a tremendous asset to the children you encounter at the
same time). First, the Apple bit. When I saw the Apple][ I KNEW I needed
to buy one. Okay, one small problem: I was in elementary school and did
not have the cash handy to get one ... so I got a paper route and eventually
saved up the money to buy an Apple ][. I then toted it through HS, college,
and brought it along to grad school (at that time I decided to get a new
machine .. an Amiga). My Macs have much better specs than that old //e,
but I still have fond memories of using it ... Iām not sure Iād be a programmer
today if it were not for the fact that I had a computer that early on.
(sorry, my interests lie in software ... I am all thumbs with hardware
I had to save and get parts as cheaply as I could just to build the early
Apple computers. I didn't even have enough money to have a choice of buying
There are different
types of software. So I was primarily skilled at low level software, where
things behave much as with hardware. I developed my skill and applied
it to both areas.
Second, nut no less important, is what you are doing now. I really
admired how you could make your money at Apple, remain true to your dreams,
and leave it to help teach children. I was telling my wife Andrea about
you and told her some other anecdotes I had gathered from the web and
books and she is just impressed as I am. This is a topic that touches
the two of us as she is a grad student in Social Work who did an internship
in an inner-city elementary school last year and I am volunteering in
the computer room in a tutororing program for underprivileged children.
Well, heck, one person now and then has to think this way. It's odd that
so many exclaim the virtues of education and of educating the needy, but
don't opt to when they can, preferring business instead. Perhaps that
will change someday and softer people will run businesses, but I doubt
it. Our capitalist system makes success a competitive thing, and competitive
people are at the top. It's hard for them to just give up that pursuit.
Something you might find amusing: when Jobs was brought back to Apple
my reaction was well, they got it half right, they just got the wrong
Steve ...ā :-) I sometimes wonder what things would have been like if
that had happened ... maybe Jobs is what they needed business-wise right
now, but I would have preferred seeing an Apple with your guidance (Apple
would be a cause again, not just a company) to smiles from Wall Street
brokers. For example, the very > idea of Be not getting hardware specs
from Apple would be unheard of. Hmm ... maybe you could arrange to telecommute
with the understanding that Apple was secondary to the children? :-)
A lot of times things don't make sense to me but when better explained
I agree with what was done. This is true of many things in today's Apple.
Some things that sound crazy, like not sharing hardware specs with Be,
probably have good reasoning but we just aren't inside enough to see it.
Hopefully you were able to get through all that ego-stroking ... if
email is the closest I ever get to meeting you I wanted to at least let
you know how much regard I hold you in and how your actions have affected
my life. Okay now, OB question: do you have any advice for working with
children and computers?
First, be aware that not all people (children) are the same. Some will
adapt easily to computers and some will benefit greatly from computer
usage. But computers won't have the same importance in life to everyone.
some key things that are the desired result of using a computer. Ones
that I come up with include learning how computers work, learning how
to maintain a computer, learning how networks operate including servers
and data packets and physical wiring, experiencing the online world, making
homework look attractive, utilizing integrated apps, etc.
a lot of time to regularly practice over and over important computer skills.
Have room for some students to go further. Have a lot of patience. Don't
have such a large class that you can't be on top of where each student's
head is at. Ask a lot of questions and have regular quizzes and homework
As someone who aspires to be a hacker you are like an idol to me ...
but the thing I most appreciate is that I use you as an inspiration in
my own work with children and computers.
Hey, the essence of creativity is in those who can joke and play tricks.
I inspire it in kids all the time and I'm sure that it helps them be creative.