Steve Jobs Greased the Wheels of Progress

My Macintosh SE today, still working. It made Bay Area Bike Rides become a reality.

Steve Jobs had a profound influence on my life and with his passing I will share a few memories of the long and winding road that is Apple.

I’ll never forget buying my first computer, an Apple IIe. It was 1983 and I was working at Runner’s World in the book department. That first day using a computer has to be one of the more stressful memories. I sat there in fear of deleting the operating system and ruining a $3,000 investment at the stroke of a key.

I bought the IIe in downtown Palo Alto, not far from Steve’s home. I also worked at Palo Alto Bicycles part-time. Steve rode a bike and was seen on occasion in the shop, although I never saw him riding.

Once I got the hang of it, I showed my boss the IIe and he went out and bought one as well. Pretty soon I was talking to a manager in the typesetting area and he told me he could take my floppy disk and feed the stories directly into his typesetting machine.

When publisher Bob Anderson found out he could save a buck, he bought Apple IIes for the entire editorial staff! Wise investment.

Bay Area Bike Rides takes shape
But the Macintosh SE was the game-changer. I had just accepted an advance to write Bay Area Bike Rides for Chronicle Books in early 1988 and I boldly told the publisher I could also produce the maps. I had no idea how, but I figured the Macintosh SE would be my savior. I went out and bought one the next day.

I had watched Jim Westby produce the highly acclaimed Palo Alto Bicycles mail-order catalog on a Macintosh (it literally went up in smoke!) and I was confident I could do the maps with the right software.

Once again, there was that moment of dread when I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I had MacDraw II, but no scanner. Scanners back then were extremely expensive. After a while it came to me: I would draw half-inch cross-hatch lines on a map and replicate the roads in each of the small squares to the Macintosh. MacDraw had half-inch hatched lines as well. It was painstaking, slow work, but with time I got faster.

Bay Area Bike Rides came out in 1990 and four editions later it’s still in print.

Finally, when I worked at Tandem Computers in the early 1990s I had the opportunity to tour the Macintosh assembly line on Warm Springs Boulevard in Fremont. A Tandem CLX system managed logistics in the factory. Today the former Tandem headquarters is an Apple building.

I ride by there often and it always brings back memories. Thanks Steve.

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