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When I was 16 years old, I frequently went to the movies with my friends. Without fail, weekend after weekend we would meet at The Falls and watch a film. I remember one specific Friday was personally very different for me. Something happened that I will never forget as long as I live. As we were passing by Fridays, I noticed a sign in front of a store being remodeled with an Apple logo and it read “Coming Soon”. As a young boy fascinated by technology, I was instantly intrigued. I was intrigued for a few reasons. The first was, why would a computer company that was clearly struggling find it necessary to open a retail store in a mall surrounded by so many high end clothing and shoe stores. Secondly, I remember my first major introduction into computers was with a Macintosh, both at school and at home. I will never forget being a 6 year old kid on a ski trip and being so excited to get back home and play with the computer my parents purchased for our family. Computer software like Kid Pix and Oregon Trail captured me as a kid. I loved that machine.

I remember the Apple Store finally opening up and I fell in love with the store. Just the feel and the design of everything was great. Living in a world ruled by PC’s at the time, I never really thought getting a Mac was a feasible or logical decision. Regardless of how cool they were designed, not to mentioned the immensely added cost.

Then something happened…

I was walking through the magazine section of the local supermarket and I saw Time magazine. On the cover was the iPod. The device that would change music forever. All your music, 1,000 songs in your pocket. This was like something out of The Jetsons. A futuristic looking device that performed something really useful and promised to do it very well. It was a trifecta! Little did I know at the time that this would be the formula Apple would replicate time and time again for the next 10 years. I had to have it! Again, little did I know that this would happen to me, time and time and again for the next 10 years. LOL…

That Christmas, my family members one by one asked me what I wanted. I had a simple answer, the iPod. Since the device was a whopping $399 no one person could give it to me as a gift so my entire family decided to give me money so I could collect enough to buy it. 3 weeks later, it was a success and I was on my way to purchase my first iPod. Upon getting the iPod, I was again reminded of a major hurdle that I faced. I didn’t have a Mac and I needed one to load all my music unto the iPod. Considering the cheapest iMac was $1800, there was no way I could personally afford one.

After going through an extremely long and annoying mission, I had all my music on the iPod. Personally, it was incredible. I remember traveling around with cases of CD’s on trips, in my car, and pretty much everywhere I went. Not having to deal with that burden anymore was a dream come true. In a weird sort of way, it was life changing.

Over the next few months I enjoyed that iPod so much I began to imagine what it would be like to actually have a Mac. In a world mostly dominated by PC’s, how would it work? Would things be compatible? Would it work in college? Would it be more problematic than expected? All thoughts that ran through my head. Regardless of that, there was one major thing that kept drawing me to this machine, creativity. The sense that this was an art machine that I could do so much more creatively with a computer than I could have ever imagined. This was the dream that sold me. Instead of carrying around CD’s, I could put them all on my iPod. Instead of just making movies with my friends on tape, I could actually bring them in, edit them, and make a DVD. As a kid growing up at the beginning of the 21st century, this was a dream come true. And that… was the beginning of a very special personal journey for me. As you can imagine, the rest is history. But I will leave you with this last thought…

I recently was having a conversation with my good friend, Carlos Gutierrez. It was the day after Steve Jobs passed away and we were discussing his personal impact in our lives. We spoke about the iPod, music, pop culture, Pixar, our computers, and his affect on our industry. At that moment I said, “I don’t think Merge Studios would exist without Steve Jobs. I owe him a lot.” Carlos responded, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well without messing around with iMovie on my iMac, I don’t think I would have fallen in love with filmmaking.” Carlos said, “Really? I’ve always looked at technology as a means to an end.” At which point, I didn’t really say anything but couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation. See for me, technology was a means to a beginning. The beginning of a journey, the beginning of a passion, the beginning of hopefully, a lifelong career. See the fundamental difference between Carlos and I is 10 years. That’s not much but shows the difference between someone on the front and backend of Steve Jobs vision being realized. Steve Jobs didn’t just see 1 and 0′s in a machine, he saw a computer the same way a painter sees a canvas, the same way a musician sees a violin, and the same way a cinematographer sees imagery through a camera. He envisioned a tool beyond typical computing tasks, something that could encompass art, style, culture, and the human spirit. Without these elements, it could not be a tool capable of creating great art.

We owe a lot to Steve Jobs, but personally, what I think what I owe him the most is having the vision of taking something so technical and intuitive and showing us how to use it in powerful and creative ways.

Thank you Steve.

Sincerely,

Julien Diaz

Sent from my Mac

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