In 1981 my father brought home a computer. A f*cking computer, in our house. I was nine years old.
The little beige machine, replete with dual disk drives, 64k of RAM and a black-n-white 9" monitor, cost over five thousand dollars back then (I found this out later). It was called the Apple ][+. In hindsight, it was an amazing investment for my dad to make in us. I say us because he never once tried to keep the kids away from it. Quite the opposite! He let us claw and drool all over the thing. And that we did.
There were some drawbacks. We fought over who got to use it, and for how long. I think ultimately my grade-school years suffered for it, too, because I was always too preoccupied with what program I was going to write next. I remember in math class looking at every homework assignment and thinking about how I could totally write a BASIC program to solve this. An hour later the plucky little computer was spitting out my homework answers, complete with the "work" I needed to write down so that it would appear to my teachers as if I'd really done it. I wrote games and made endless password systems to try and keep my siblings out of my disks.
Like a lot of computer nerds, I moved on to other platforms. An Atari ST, dozens of home-built PC Clones, linux machines, gaming rigs, you name it.
But I'll never forget that little beige box. It opened my mind in ways that school never could. It was science fiction made real, something Apple still provides today.
I can thank the Steve's (Jobs and Woz) for inventing it. And my father, for having the foresight to buy it and let me hack on the thing.
It's the very reason I had no qualms whatsoever in handing my drooling toddler an iPad. He's not even two yet and can dance around the thing like you wouldn't believe.
Cheers, Mr. Jobs. You didn't cure a disease or win a nobel prize, but you pioneered a world where imagination could flourish, and amazing power could be placed in the hands of a kid like me.