Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

I remember my first exposure to computer music was when I was a newly minted graduate student at UCLA, helping a professor program Apple IIg computers for a networked computer-assisted instruction application for basic musicianship. Using 6502 assembly code, I had to create four different sound types using a 64-byte wavetable. I pleaded for 128-bytes. Alas.

Later on, I applied for a job at XEROX Parc in Los Angeles.  They needed someone with an EE or CS degree, but interviewed me anyway. During the interview, the guy showed me this really cool computer where disks and files were shown on screen as icons, and he used this thing he called a mouse to move them around. I didn’t get the job, but two years later, the Macintosh was announced. Gee, that looked familiar.

When I worked at IRCAM, I began to program on a Macintosh Plus in THINK C and “Le LISP.” I also met a guy named Miller Puckette who was working on a graphic programming environment for the Mac called Patcher. Very interesting stuff. I wonder whatever happened to that?

After I returned to the states, I needed a job, badly. I ended up with a position at an aerospace sub-contractor for the USAF Los Angeles research center. My job? Managing a graphics production lab that used Mac Plus computers, creating overhead slides using MacDraw and a LaserPrinter. And I got the job because I was the only one they interviewed who had ever used a Mac.

My dissertation score was the first one at UCLA that used a computer typesetting program for the Mac called Composer. When I came to LSU, I had the first Mac II on campus, and spent $1500 to get a token ring network card for it.  A couple years later, I bought a NeXT computer for the lab. It was the best computer for doing music at the time, and I began programming code in Objective C.

When I heard that Apple bought NeXT (or was it the other way around), I knew that the Mac was destined for greatness yet again. And since that time, my creative world has revolved around the Mac OS. Even the computational scientists I work with prefer Macs over Linux (at least for their laptops).

I’ve never met Steve Jobs, although I saw him at a MacWorld conference once. Somehow, he had touched my life and career for as long as I can recall. He has been called a visionary. He has been called relentless. I will always remember him as someone who had the courage to stand by his vision, and to pursue perfection in all things.

“Your time is limited, so don’t live someone else’s life. Follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary”

— Steve Jobs