This morning, I don't think I was alone in shedding a tear. The difference between a geek, a nerd, and everyone else, was probably actually how you felt this morning. Because you see, for the nerds among us, he was more than a genius, an innovator, a visceral businessman and a cunning media manipulator.
He was a nerd.
One of us. One of me.
I picked up a book about the History of Computing on Charing Cross Road many years ago. It had zeroes and ones on the front. I've never studied computing, I've never studied anything to do with them. Never. But I know how binary looks and I know I love computers so I wanted to know how come I suddenly landed in this magic world where I can tap and you can see and there's nothing but a Submit button between us.
I read about machine cards, punch cards. I read about stealing time on these machines by teenagers with big ideas and a gaming habit to feed. I read about sneaking time, and heat and a dot in the wrong place meaning hours of re-feeding card. I read about electronics stores like Maplins now, with bits of kit, soldering irons, metal, boards and bauds. I read about personality clashes and ethics, disagreements and disappointments and I understood a little better why among nerd friends, Microsoft were the dark side and unix was the source and Apple were the cute little quirky kids on the block trying to break peoples heads.
Apple always tried to break peoples heads.
I first surfed the web on a Mac. I taught myself how to use it. I then moved onto Unix (x-term) and then onto Microsoft then iOS. But I remember the clack of the keyboard. But then I remember the clack of every keyboard. I have had good keyboards and bad.
What Steve Jobs did was remove the sound. He took away the barrier between me and you. He removed the physical keyboard and gave me touch and tap and tactile. Swipes and smiles. Apps and aspirations.
I felt like I'd made it as a geek, the day I brought my iPad 2 home. It is, to this day, my most prized possession. I adore it, more than any pair of shoes or handbag. Almost as much as my bike. Almost.
But it's easy to forget that the beauty for a lot of other people, the magic for a lot of other people, is surface. It is cool. It is consumer. It is brand. It is Apple. It is keeping up with the Jones for a whole new generation.
For me, it's about being a nerd. It will always be about being a nerd. And my nerd hero has died. The propellers spin no more. The machinery will no longer compute.
Apple has been cored.