While we can all agree that “Good Vibrations” is the best song of the previous millennium, it’s only in “Smile” — embedded in the third movement of a tremendous psychoacoustic laser strike — that it unfolds from a pocket symphony into a pocket universe. Prefaced by a brain-cleansing prayer (rolling up the preceding 45 minutes of urgent, ambling rock), and followed by a warm, perfect farewell, “Good Vibrations” becomes the completest expression of a living world as it was enjoyed, once, briefly, by a few boys: a world now gone, a world not soon forgotten.
My first computer was an Apple IIc. Training montage: a child is typing in BASIC listings from magazines, he is playing Pac-Man clones, he is mutating them over and over, endlessly. Green text on a black screen, in the dark.
Now, here we are. Software is eating everything, and I’m making things to help make things that are eating everything. If we can figure out how to keep the lights on for a few more generations and for a larger percentage of people, I believe the species will make it. We’ll keep on seeing, making, and moving along — and we’ll be OK. Not perfect, not great, but OK.
All this to say: there are only a few things that are truly fantastic. Things that are too good to be here, but are here; things that don’t just change the rules of the game, but let us change what games are; things that put people at the center of the world, instead of fields, rivers, mountains, or wolves. Things that answer the question, “Who makes the world?”
And one of those fantastic things was that Snow White wedge with Millenium Falcon pieces hanging off the back. It had a handle, but you weren’t going to carry it anywhere; it performed a duet for disk drive and keyboard; it smelled of burnt plastic after it ran for too many hours on a hot-as-hell Michigan night; and, finally, it opened a path for you to walk as long as you wanted, forever — ancient worn-down cobblestones, paved over and over, pavement weathered and pot-holed back down to the original bricks — an entire box full of floppy disks. You could do anything, given time, determination, and electricity.
So: thanks, Mr. Jobs.
Turns out you folks were just getting started.
But even that was so much more than enough.