The first computer I touched was an Apple IIe. My Dad had bought one for his accountancy practice and one evening, after everyone had gone home, he took me to see it. It was amazing – we played breakout, made Lemonade, and calculated our Biorhythms – Believe me, for a ten year old in 1980 that was pretty impressive. With the computer there were a bunch of manuals, but the one that caught my eye was titled “Apple II Basic Programming Manual“.  I ‘borrowed’ it – and in its pages I discovered a brand new world.

Thirty one years later and I wake up to the news that Steve Jobs is dead. However, for me, its not Apple’s obvious achievements that come to mind. I don’t think about the mac I’m reading the news on, or the Pixar films the kids watch, or the iPhone in my pocket. What comes to mind is a single paragraph on page 12 of that manual, still remembered three decades later.

“There is nothing you can do by typing at the keyboard that can cause any damage to the computer. Unless you type with a hammer. So feel free to experiment. With your fingers.”

And having been given permission to experiment…. thats exactly what I did. Reflecting on it now, I think that paragraph probably changed my life.


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