Masthead header

I Shook Hands With Steve Jobs

I think Mac computers are magical machines. Wizards. They are my Merlins. I became a Mac fanatic. I still am.

It all started in 1985, when I was 45 years old and on a trek in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. My husband and I, along with our friends, Carl and Mary, were hiking up to a lake named only by it’s elevation, 8522. It’s so remote, you have to climb straight up along the side of a waterfall to get there and there’s no trail. I usually brought up the rear, but It never bothered me because I had time to day dream and usually to trip on some minor rock or stick.

We reached the lake and attacked our lunches. While sitting on a sunny rock and reveling in the view, Carl asked me about my art career. “ My painting is going really well, I replied, but every time I have to get out marketing information to galleries and art consultants, it takes me three days to type my resume, two days to type a letter, and way too much time to type labels for my presentation slides.”

Carl took another bite out of his sandwich and said, “ You know, Sandy, there is this new thing out there called a Mac computer.I think that is what you might need. It can copy and paste, and you can fix all your mistakes before you print. Plus, you can use the same form over and over and make as many changes as you’d like.”

What a revelation. I wanted it and I wanted it now. When I got back to Los Angeles, I went to a computer store and asked a salesman about a Mac computer.

“Can it copy and paste?“

“Uh, I think so.” He stammered.

“You THINK so? You don’t know?”

“ Well, not really. It’s kinda new…”

I was very frustrated because I felt my nirvana was so close. But I thought to myself, I need this thing so I’m going for it. I brought my new Mac home, pulled it out of the box, listened to the instruction tape and went to town. Voila! I immediately removed the icon for the internal hard drive. Gone! I had no idea where it was or what to do. So, I called an eleven-year-old son of a friend and he very easily located my hard drive. I decided that I’d better start reading the manual.

I am obsessive. About my art. About my cooking. About my lipsticks. And when I want to learn something I dig down deep and get into it. But my computer had me baffled, so I went to a computer store to ask for help. A young man there suggested, “Why don’t you become a member of The Los Angeles Macintosh Users Group?” I had no idea what that was, but I was desperate to learn this thing. I joined the group but didn’t understand three quarters of what they were saying. But the members were very patient with me and would answer my really basic questions like: how to save, how to copy, how to anything. I was going to learn this thing!

I also subscribed to magazines like MacUser and read them cover to cover. In one of the regular columns, I saw a little blurb about a labeling program offered by Silicon Beach Software. It sounded exactly like what I needed for my art slides and 4×5 transparencies. So, I called the company and ended up speaking with the president, Charlie Jackson. I asked him when his program was coming out? He said, “Hopefully in six months.” I told him I was desperate and that I needed it now. He then asked me if I’d like to be a beta tester? ”Sure!” I said, having no idea what that meant. (Was it something nuclear?) So he sent me his labeling program and I started taking notes and using it. To show you how basic my knowledge was, I didn’t know that you hit “return” for “enter.”

But I began filling my notebooks with questions and criticisms. It was just what they needed and when the software was released, they even thanked me on the front page of the manual. Pretty cool.

Meanwhile, at home, I became a Mac Evangelist and tried to get my husband and kids into computers. NO! They would have none of it. My husband said he preferred a quill pen and ink pot. My daughter was happy with her word processor, and my son could have cared less.

My son, Matthew, once had a very long history report due for a class. Trying to entice him, I offered to type it for him on the computer, print it and he would not have to use the typewriter. So of course, typical of my son, he waited until the night before it was due. I typed what seemed like a hundred pages on the computer and then hit “Print.” Nothing happened. The computer crashed. Every thing was gone. Vanished. My son’s lengthy paper was kaput! At 11:30 PM, in tears, I frantically called a friend to find out what had happened. He asked if I’d saved the report while I was typing it.? “Uh, no.“ I admitted.

Was my son upset? That’s an understatement. Fortunately, he has one of those remarkable memories because he was able to recall the entire report, word for word, and he dictated it to me. I printed it out successfully, but he never wanted to use a computer again!

Fortunately, his disdain for computers didn’t last. Many years later, Matthew worked for a company that did the advertising for Apple. One of the fringe benefits was that he was able to get me into Apple headquarters during a Christmas vacation.

My son, my husband and I wandered around the Apple campus. I just loved seeing anything Apple. I gushed when I met anyone who worked there.

At lunch time, our son insisted that we had to try the Apple cafeteria. There was every kind of food you could imagine, from exotic vegan curries to peanut butter and jelly. As we were chowing down, my son whispered, “Look who’s sitting across from you!” It was Steve Jobs! “Mom, you’ve got to introduce yourself.” My husband chimed in, “ This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!” But I was intimidated because I knew of Steve’s reputation as being one very tough customer. Somehow, I pulled myself together and when he stood up to leave, I walked over to him, extended my hand and told him that he made “the most insanely great computers,” and thanked him for it. He very graciously said, “Thank you,” and shook my hand.

I shook hands with Steve Jobs.

I miss his genius. He made such a glorious and positive difference in my life.

And I shook Steve Jobs’ hand.

All images appearing on I Shook Hands With Steve Jobs are the expressed property of Sandra Sallin. All rights reserved. In other words, don’t steal it!



  • Judith Eton - Once more our lives run on parallel tracks. My husband fell in love with the original apple and the romance continues. I, however only learned what I absolutely had to and so now as much as I have learned my husband always knows a little more. I hate having to ask him questions, so I am rapidly playing catch up………..ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Judith- Do they have an Apple store in the desert? I’d hang out there every day! Love those places.Their also always amazed that a woman with gray hair stumps them and they have to google the answer. Go Judith!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie DeYoung - I learned on a Mac in 1990, when DOS was still the way to do things (think 1990). It was BIG in ’95 when our schools got a few of the COLOR MONITORS. 😉ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Natalie, I was told the the Mac was a toy and was not to be taken seriously!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Oh, such a fun trip down memory lane!
    Back in the early days of PC vs Mac, I was married and the two of us had one of the original mail order catalog computer companies of the time. We sold software and peripherals for both platforms, and put together custom PCs as ordered. That was begun in the late 70’s and continued into the mid 1980’s. Then we’d moved on to other endeavors and I rarely used any computer, although he continued. To me they were too complicated to bother with.

    Then I found myself elected President of a large chapter of MADD. There was a need to keep records, send out correspondence and reports, create newsletters and more. The main office in Texas told me to go get myself a MacIntosh. Whoa. I did. Without knowing a thing, basically, and without reading much at all, I got the whole thing set up and doing what it needed to do. I felt so empowered! My experience with PCs was such that I would never have attempted setting one of them up without my husband’ help. Apple instilled confidence.

    Years passed. I was on my own and could afford a PC, which fortunately had become more user friendly and affordable. But still, they tended to crash or freeze up or get virus attacks, etc. Fond pleasant memories of Apple taunted me.

    One year, about 2003, my newest PC laptop died. It was only 1 year and 1 day old. 1 day out of warranty. No recourse but to pay out lots of money. I was furious. I was (still am) a working girl with little extra cash to spend on such things. Instead of getting another PC that would surely have issues, I bit the bullet and acquired a MacBook.

    There was a bit of a learning curve which was mostly due to having to un-learn the PC ways and just go with the intuitive flow that Apple is famous for. And I still have that same MacBook, here in 2013. It does not break, never gets sick, and just keeps on keeping on.
    I can now proudly proclaim, with pride: “Once you use Mac you never go back”.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Julie-First of all, I use to be a member of MADD. Loved them. Then I think something happened. Don’t remember what.

      I still have one of those orginal MacBooks. I bought it in the first Apple store in Glendale. It was so exciting. Do you think people remember where they bought their first PC? Any romance there?ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Sandra, I certainly remember where I purchased my MacBook – in San Francisco. Loved that store and felt a kinship with the salesman. I was in rural Missouri when I bought that first Macintosh but can’t recall where or how far I had toReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Oops! Anyway, don’t recall where that store was.
    I’d embrace any romance that I could find these days! Slim pickings for Julie.ReplyCancel

  • Antonia - I’ve been a fan of Apple since about the same time as you. I bought a IIc for my daughter (and myself) and have never had another kind of computer since. After my husband’s PC crashed for the 10th (or was it 50th) time, I convinced him to switch and he is a total fan as well. Steve Jobs was a genius — except when it came to his own health care. But an amazing legacy.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Antonia- A friend of ours had a PC and was always complaining about this and than. He’d always used it for his business and was loath to get a new computer. Spending enought time with us convinced him. He’s converted! Steve and his health issues taught me a lesson. Don’t let your own craziness get in your way. He thought he knew better than everyone in the world. It was his downfall. Worked with computers but not in an area that he knew nothing about, his health. Sadder world without him.ReplyCancel

  • Antonia - Sandra,

    I’ve always been fascinated by hubris, the downfall of so many. Letting your own craziness get in your way is one part of that way of thinking. Trouble is, you need a fair amount of insight — or good friends/family to give you feedback — to keep off that slippery slope.ReplyCancel

  • sandra - Well Anonia, I guess I’ve also been aware of how one’s hubris can destroy one. We’ve seen it in our leaders. I try to separate my fears from the reality. When I know there’s an area where my fears will get in the way, I ask for help. My husband is pretty good and helpig me see the reality of the situation.ReplyCancel

  • Matthew - You actually said “I salute you” before you shook hands. I remember being terrified that he would have you kicked out but he was quite gracious.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Matthew- OMG! I said that? I was so nervous that I don’t even remember anything except the “insanely great” comment. That is hysterical. I wonder where that came from. Oh, I’ve got to post that. Thanks for remembering.ReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - I am so insanely jealous. My dad was a computer nut when I was in 3rd grade (1977) and brought home an Apple II (I think). I went to a programming class with him and fell in love with the fact that I could draw a horse (I think the MP at the time was 10×10 blocks but it was drawing and coding and freaking brilliant!).
    I have ALWAYS been a mac girl because of that. Even when they were failing, I remember telling my dad (this was right before Steve Jobs came back to Apple and saved them from despair) that I wanted to invest in the company and buy stock. He told me that was a dumb and emotional reason to buy stock and I didn’t…to this day I remind him that he really should owe me about $800,000. He’s not buying my logic.
    I am SO JEALOUS that you shook Steve Jobs’ hand. I am on my 5th iPhone (was one who paid $600 the first day it was out), have written him emails, applied to Apple for jobs, have a Cinema display, the first iMac, and 30 other Apple devices in my home…
    Wow. Can I touch your hand???ReplyCancel

  • sandra - OMG, I’m so crazy about anything Mac. I too wanted to invet in Apple when it was way down. Our financial advisors said no, no, no. And fool that I was, I listened to them!!! I should have gone with my gut. So I’ve got all the apple stuff also and LOVE it. When my son worked for the company that did the signage for them, he politely asked me to not gush over anyone who worked for apple. I’ve also read ALL the books and loved them.

    Are you able to program? I’m so impressed.

    PS. I still haven’t washed my hand.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Y’all remind me of the first time I saw, then parked in the parking lot of the main Apple campus. That was in the early years of 2000 and my techie son was showing me around the techie sites of Silicon Valley.
    Walking to the building entrance gave me a feeling of awe, similar to the first time I went to the Harvard campus years ago. I just wanted to see it.
    Magical feelings not unlike seeing Disneyworld for the first time took me over. I like feeling the magic in our world.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Y’all remind me of the first time I saw, then parked in the parking lot of the main Apple campus. That was in the early years of 2000 and my techie son was showing me around the techie sites of Silicon Valley.
    Walking to the building entrance gave me a feeling of awe, similar to the first time I went to the Harvard campus years ago. I just wanted to see it.
    Magical feelings not unlike seeing Disneyworld for the first time took me over. I like feeling the magic in our world.ReplyCancel

  • sandra - Yes Julie, I can relate. I remeberthe first time I saw Harvard. But, Apple, that is the real magic factory. Hogworts!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Chester - You are amazing, and I can see why you succeed at anything you put your mind to.

    Dob;t you just love those early computers when everything was new and fun and exciting.

    Lovely, lovely post. And, yes, we have a lot to thank Steve Jobs for. As I writing on my MacBook and power my iPhone and iPad, I thank him and say RIP, Mr. Jobs. You deserve it (though you left us way too soon.)ReplyCancel

  • Sri Varshan - Your story was truly intriguing Sandra, your memories did take me back to the Apple cafeteria and I could just see you shaking hands with Steve Jobs 🙂
    Wonderful Post, beautiful memories, just loved it. Have a great dayReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thank you Sri. Did you work at Apple? I was so afraid he’d be offended. I guess sometimes the grey hair pays off.ReplyCancel

  • LA CONTESSA - I have GOOSE BUMPS reading this!ReplyCancel

  • sandra - Judi-No Carmel this year? But that Baltic trip must have been quite the memory maker.ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*