October 16, 2011

Your iStuff, Steve Jobs, and a Man-Maker

You may not realize it, but you wouldn't have all your Apple iStuff if a very good man hadn't stepped up for Steve Jobs and the boys in his neighborhood!

In the October 6th issue of Computerworld's on-line newsletter there is an interview with Steve Jobs from way back in April of 1995. In the exchange, Steve talks about how his dad, Paul, a machinist, was very gifted working with his hands. He had a workbench in his garage where, when Steve was five or six, he partitioned off a small section of it for Steve. They spent a lot of time together tinkering with things, including some very basic electronics. But it wasn't until his family moved to Silicon Valley that Steve really discovered his passion for electronics and building things, thanks in large part to a man named Larry Lang.

Larry Lang was an engineer at Hewlett-Packard, a ham radio operator, and really into electronics. Here is how Steve describes Larry's unusual introduction to the kids in the hood:
What he did to get to know the kids in the block was rather a strange thing. He put out a carbon microphone and a battery and a speaker on his driveway where you could talk into the microphone and your voice would be amplified by the speaker.
That introduction worked. One man, sharing something he was interested in with the kids in his community, as they say, launched a thousand ships . . . or in Steve's case, lots of iThings. As a result of that initial encounter, Larry and Steve struck up a friendship and this led to Steve being introduced to Heathkits. Steve said, "These Heathkits would come with these detailed manuals about how to put this thing together and all the parts would be laid out in a certain way and color coded. You'd actually build this thing yourself."

Steve's confidence grew as the Heathkit catalog became familiar territory. Out of the time spent building things with Larry, Steve said he learned, ". . . what was inside a finished product and how it worked because it would include a theory of operation." And maybe most importantly Steve got, ". . . a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one's environment."

If you ever wanted evidence of the power of a good man to have a positive influence in the life of a boy, and even the world, Steve Jobs' story about Larry Lang is a solid example. Please do realize that you, being just the man you are today, without any special training, could be the Larry in some boy's life. If, like Larry, you find the courage to share yourself and your interests with the boys in your world, who knows the difference you will make.

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

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  1. Anonymous3:37 AM

    The sad thing is that if a man set up a speaker like that today, he'd be accused of "grooming", get a knock at the door and all his computers etc would be taken away by the police for forensic analysis.

    The world has truly gone mad since Steve was a boy.

  2. Dave B.4:04 PM

    Thanks for continuing to bring these inspiring stories to us all.


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