• An open letter to Steve Jobs.

Dear Steve,

Yesterday’s news of your decision to resign from Apple hit me the way a virus hits Windows: hard, damaging, deep. For you to resign, I can only imagine what your doctors told you -- or what your mirror told you, the one you look into every day and ask, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"

I fully expect you to beat this thing. I mean, if anyone can live forever you can. To help fill you with good feelings of gratitude, because good feelings are the very best medicine, here is a highly abbreviated list of things I would like to thank you for.

- Thank you for enabling me to have a career in writing.
Truly, I tried pen and paper, typewriters, word processors (Wang!), PCs, but when I tried the Mac, I finally found my Big Chief tablet.

- Thank you for creating tools that have made it possible for me to improve my songwriting.
Pro Tools on the Mac was a revelation. I’d owned a Fostex cassetted-based multitracker, a Tascam 38 and an ADAT, but when I first saw Pro Tools for Macintosh, I knew I was looking at a tool that could help me overcome my limitations.

- Thank you for inspiring me to attempt to do things that are insanely great.
I first tried a Macintosh back in 1984 or so, when my Dad brought home a Macintosh 512K. Straightaway, I started fooling around with MacPaint, making art work for mix tapes and collections of my original songs. A few years later, I had claimed my Dad’s Mac as my own and upgraded it to a “Plus”, which meant 1 MB of RAM, and started writing more with it. I tried writing short stories mainly, tried writing novels and lyrics, too, but when I finally used it to write some ad copy for a night class I was taking, though I did not know it at the time, in the years to follow, I would spend more time writing copy on a Mac than doing anything else in life. Every bit of copy I have ever written has been the best I could do at the time, in large part because the Mac made the act of writing something I did not have to think about, I could simply write. How cool, so much better than a typewriter or a buggy PC. Over the years, I have owned many a Mac, and I’m not sure I can remember them all, but here goes: Macintosh 512K, Macintosh SE-30, Powerbook 170, Quadra, G3, Powerbook G3, Titanium Powerbook, Macbook Pro (PowerPC), Macbook Pro (Intel), Mac Pro (Intel). All of these machines inspired me to be my very best, to create things of value, to try to do something insanely great. And within a month from now, I will release my first album, an album that would not have been possible without a Mac (or two or three).

- You have made the world a better place for people like me.
When you started Apple, the prevailing power in computing was IBM and IBM was not about providing everyday people with creative tools. They were about top-down command and control environments where only the select few could enter the glass room where the king resided -- just like society at large. Apple, however, was about meritocracy, the computer for the rest of us, the computer that was on the desk, or garage, wherever we wanted it to be. If you hadn’t founded Apple, would we still have personal computers? Sure, and they would run Microsoft DOS and would be utter hell to work with. But more than giving the masses killer technology, you upended culture. No longer were only college graduates from certain schools and certain families in control of everyone else’s lives. You showed that a dropout could have bigger, better ideas, ideas that create more value than Harvard’s best. You, along with Silicon Valley, helped make failure acceptable, expected even, just so long as we were shooting for the stars, which you always have been.

There’s more, I could go on for pages, in fact, but let me leave you with this. If the Grim Reaper is indeed waiting outside your house, open the door and invite him in. Get him seated at a Mac, pour him a cup of coffee and tell him to have at it. He’ll never look up.


Jeff Shattuck