The Letter to Steve Jobs I Should Have Sent

Steve, wherever your fierce spirit has taken you, I celebrate all that you've accomplished. You made filling an empty page, or an blank canvas or a vacant sheet of music, so much easier.
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I bought my first Macintosh computer in 1987. At the time I was a correspondent for ABC News and my news division's first attempt to "wire" its reporters was by giving us small Tandy TRS-80's - effectively keyboards that displayed 8 lines and 40 characters. This was the early cyber equivalent of the quill pen.

But when the first Mac 128K hit with its WYSIWYG- "what you see, is what you get," user interface I had to have one.

I remember that when I left ABC News for a million-to-one shot working for Michael Mann on his new series "Crime Story" I had to convince the TWA flight attendant to let me stow the large gumdrop shaped "personal" computer with the crew luggage because it wouldn't fit under the seat in front of me or in the overhead compartment.

Since January of 1987 when I came to "Hollywood" and became a staff writer and later "show runner' on a number of great dramatic series, I wrote every word of every script on a Mac - even though the studio system was still a hopeless slave to Microsoft.

Two years later in 1989 I plunked down $6,500 for the first Mac portable and ever since then, on one Apple product or another, I have written more than 30 hours of dramatic television, two novels, four non-fiction books for HarperCollins and hundreds of news pieces.

I wanted to tell all of this to Steve Jobs after I'd heard he'd been diagnosed with cancer in 2003 - but I put it off. After he went into remission I thought to myself, "I have time now to let him know how much I think he changed the creative world; not just for me but for millions of others who lacked the patience to embrace the complicated and duplicative world of Windows."

Even six years later when word came that Jobs, then in relapse, announced a six month leave, I held off; making the mistake we often do by waiting to tell those who mean so much to us, just how much they really mean.

But this week after I received my Apple Watch - the seventh Apple product I own - and realized what a breakthrough device it was - I had to send this expression of thanks to Steve, no matter how hopelessly late it was.


Once, in the last years of my career in episodic I was forced to use a PC laptop because the series I wrote for demanded that we crank out teleplays in the Windows format of Final Draft - the world's greatest screenwriting software.

I needed a new printer driver installed and the show's IT director had to send a tech to my home to do it - a process (in Windows time) that took nearly an hour.

Mac users know that this exercise that could have gone down in the time it takes to plug in a USB cable, but such was the burdensome world that Bill Gates had created in his lifelong effort to emulate what Wozniak and Jobs had long ago accomplished.

Why did I need an Apple Watch, you might ask? I do most of my writing on an iMac and a MacBook Air when I travel. I own an iPhone and a mini iPod, so why another device?

It was the health app that first attracted me when I upgraded to IOS 8.3 - the ability to track my caloric intake and, ultimately measure my heartbeat as I become more and more interested in longevity.

But this watch , which I wear under my wrist, is so much more. I recently downloaded a Sleep App to investigate how often I fall into REM each night - the most creative period of unconsciousness.

I love the ease at which I can send text messages or even retrieve phone calls, and sure, while all of the Messages, Contacts and Calendar functions are easily accessed via my iPhone, they seem significantly more useful now.

And don't get me started on Passbook, which allows me to blast through retail transactions with the swipe of my wrist.


Like all loyal Apple users I was worried about what would happen when Jobs' influence on the company was finally done. But the Watch is the first significant device released under the leadership of Tim Cook and there's little doubt now that he's got a steady hand on the tiller.

I've customized my Watch face to let me know, the temperature in Santa Barbara where live, the time in Melbourne, where my youngest daughter lives, my daily status in the various Exercise Apps - one event prompts me regularly to Stand Up from my chair as I spend my day filling blank pages with words - and the amount of reserve power I have along with the date and, oh yeah, the time of day.

But with a single swipe up I can monitor my heart rate. On one level that seems like the most egocentric of all pursuits, but at its most basic, it reminds me that the Genius device of all time is the human body and that the pump in my chest keeps working day in and day out, constantly preserving my ability to tell stories.

So Steve, wherever your fierce spirit has taken you, I celebrate all that you've accomplished. You made filling an empty page, or an blank canvas or a vacant sheet of music, so much easier.

You helped give the world a common axis for expression that transcends, language, national borders or ideologies. You've succeeded in effectively lengthening our lives by making the process of living so much more efficient and downright fun. Godspeed.

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