I’ve never been a very good nerd.
I don’t remember the first computer my parents bought, but it wasn’t an Apple II. I never learned to program as a kid. That first computer, in my parent’s basement, never changed my life.
But there was a computer that did change my life.
At the end of 2004 I quit my job at a venture firm. It was a good firm and I learned a lot from the partners there. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was ready to take what I’d learned from being their scrub and move up to the next level.
On Jan 1, 2005 I began laying the groundwork for what would eventually become OATV. As I sat alone in my makeshift office in Sandy, UT I decided that I wanted to start fresh, all the way down to my operating system. It sounds funny now, but it was an important psychological move for me. I wanted the next level to look and feel different than what I’d experienced in the past in every possible way.
I fired up my Sony Viao and surfed over to Apple.com. I wasn’t an Apple fanboy. I’d never owned one of their machines. And that was the point.
I didn’t know if I would love it or even like it, but it was going to be different. And different was exactly how I wanted the next level to feel.
Soon my new machine arrived. Sleek, aluminum, solid. It had a look and feel that seemed to accurately reflect its hefty price tag. The UX of the software was awkward but rewarding. Just the kind of different I wanted.
Over the years I’ve bought many more Apple products. And I’ve noticed something. They really don’t do incremental releases very well. Whether it’s a change to the software, internal components or the form factor they always seem to want to push our expectations for what technology can and should do to the next level. With each release the bar gets reset a little higher than it was just days prior.
To this day, every time I open an Apple box and hold that new device in my hands I get the same feeling of sitting in my empty office in early January 2005. A feeling like that next level is in sight.
Perhaps it’s a little overly dramatic to say a computer changed my life. It really was just a hunk of metal and electronics after all. But there was a very real feeling of newness, of recalibrated expectations, of inspiration to reach for the next level that I found in that box back in 2005. And it has been in every box since.