I was reminded Yesterday of the origin of my journey into the Magic of Macintosh. Back in the late 70s, I landed my first real job working as a field rep for a hearing healthcare products company. It was still an analog world. The personal computer industry was still in its infancy. The thought of actually owning one of those things didn’t exactly appeal to me. I, like so many of my colleagues, wanted nothing to do with those number crunching monsters in the accounting department.
Sometime in 1979, my company decided to expand its field sales force. A few new guys were hired and subsequently relocated into market territories. One of them stood out among the rest of us. This dude was different. Outspoken, brash, and overflowing with confidence, Steve was a force not to be taken lightly. Maybe it had something to do with his time in Vietnam. Or maybe it had to do with being a native-born Hungarian. You see, Steve, together with his family, fled from behind the Iron Curtain to the United States in 1956. These experiences, among others, packed his personality with passion. What he lacked in polish, he more than made up for with gusto and enthusiasm.
I was amazed by what he was able to do on sheer adrenaline. Often times, I found myself shaking my head in stunned disbelief as he pulled off another coup. Yet, as different as our styles and sales techniques were, we were drawn to each other. As we are fond of saying, “Like Butch and Sundance in a Blaze of Glory.”
Those territory assignments helped solidify our friendship in a transcendent way. We were no longer mere associates. We were each half of The Steve & Joe Road Show.
And what a Road Show it was. We had fast become industry hotshots. We reveled in the celebrity and notoriety. Some competitor might undercut us on a price point, but they were never going to top our passion for the consumer and exceptional customer service.
Steve and I were both assigned the western territories. He had Southern California, Nevada and Arizona. I had Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Colorado. Steve loved the beach in Southern California, I preferred the Front Range of The Colorado Rockies. In between our assignments, we spend quite a bit of time together at his place in Santa Monica.
During a visit to Steve’s home in 1980, he told me about this Apple he bought for the end of year “Investment Tax Credit.” I had no idea what the heck he was talking about. “What kind of investment is in Apples?” I naively asked. Hey, it was 1980 and I was only twenty-six. Steve promptly informed me that he had not invested in an Apple Orchard but rather a new computer. He showed me the box (it was still unpacked) and I probably said something like “That’s cool.” But truth be told, I was clueless about computers.
As the years passed, Steve and I spent more and more time together. The bond we developed strengthened. And from my wandering in the digital wilderness, Steve pointed the way to a path that would eventually take me into the six color world of Apple Computer.
I received a special present from the Gypsy Goulash Brother in 1982. It was a copy of that seminal business management book by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman, In Search of Excellence. Among all the companies profiled, one stood out from all the rest – Apple Computer. Steve and I instinctively identified with those two twenty something mavericks. Jobs in particular inspired our imagination.
I’ll never forget seeing the ad. The Super Bowl was a big event, but it had yet to morph into the combination sports/social event/holiday phenomena it has become. I’d even wager very few folks know who were the two teams playing that January Sunday in 1984. But I’d bet they heard about Apple and that third quarter ad.
I wanted one of those new insanely great Macintosh Computers real bad. But for quite a while, I just couldn’t come up with the cash. I knew for sure there was no way the company would spring for one of those “cute graphics toys” either. So I just lusted and read everything I could about this computer that punched a dent in the Universe.
Then two things happened in the summer of 1985, unrelated, but in a strange way, connected. Steve Jobs lost a power struggle with John Sculley for control of Apple in April that year. By the end of May, he had been stripped of all functional power. On September 16, 1985, Jobs left Apple completely when he resigned as chairman of the board of the company he had cofounded.
On August 20, 1985, I was involved in a near fatal car accident. In a coma for eight days, my body was left broken in pieces. On September 16, 1985, my partner and cofounder fired me as the executive Vice President. He informed my wife of this while I was literally on the operating table. My right leg and ankle had been shattered in the wreck. My wizard like doctors did their best to save my right leg from amputation. Well they saved my leg, but I lost my company. That was the day my spirited kinship with Jobs was forged.
After I recovered from the major injuries, the Gypsy Goulash Brother and I attempted to pull off one more victory in the hearing health industry. It turned out it wasn’t meant to be. I hadn’t sufficiently recovered from those multiple injuries and wasn’t physically up to the task. But we did become members of Tom Peters select Skunk Camp program. I finally got that first Macintosh, a 512e in 1986.
Life events took the Goulash Brother and me in different directions after 1987. He found his way back to military and government service. I reemerged in the hearing healthcare industry managing Philips Electronics’ hearing instruments division. Along the way, I became something of a Macintosh Evangelist, a true Fanboy!
Twenty years had passed by in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Then, out of the blue, I received an email from my old friend, the older half of the Steve & Joe Road Show. These days, the Gypsy Goulash Brother is taking me on a new journey. Be sure to visit him at www.goulashinthemorning.com for worthwhile tips on blogging for your future. I am buckled in and ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done well.
Each of us brings our unique knowledge base to our projects. But together, he with goulasinthemorning.com and other interests, and me with macs4newbies.com, we plan, as Steve Jobs challenged us, to punch a dent into that universe!