If it hadn’t been for Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t have read the sad news on my iPad this morning, or be typing on my Mac now. Our kids wouldn’t be playing games on my wife’s iPhone, and there wouldn’t be any iPods lying around.
Of course, we’re not the only family surrounded by all things Apple but if it hadn’t been for Steve Jobs, the company’s co-founder, we probably wouldn’t be living in this château.
It was the announcement of the original Apple Macintosh in 1984 that got me into the micro-computer industry (as it was called back then) which would eventually give me the chance to buy a vineyard. Before then, my CV consisted of two jobs in different fields, and two dismissals.
My first job was as at Christie’s, the auctioneers, as a porter in the Old Masters picture department in St-James’s Street, London. Unfortunately, after a promising start, I was caught playing football in one of the galleries, using a painting by Matisse as a goalpost. A few of us got fired, not unreasonably. No harm done though, as the football had been made of sellotape and bubble-wrap: the Matisse went on to fetch a world record auction price for a 20th century painting.
I decided to pursue a career with my new hobby, which was drinking and learning about wine, but my job in a shop called the Wine Growers’ Association also turned about to be quite short lived. Despite my obvious talent – I passed the WSET Higher Certificate ‘with distinction’, no less – I was fired a second time. This wasn’t fair at all as the shortfall in stock wasn’t down to me, so I sued them for unfair dismissal, and won.
This left my career at a bit of a crossroads, despite a profitable sideline running coaches for football fans. Then, in 1984, I stumbled upon the Apple Macintosh with its ‘graphical user interface’ a funny thing called a mouse, and that amazing advert. Suitably fired up, I joined a small Apple dealer in Kilburn, which was unheard of for someone who lived in Fulham, but I did think there was a market for these things. I moved at the end of the year to Computacenter, a proper computer dealership based in Kensington, as the resident Apple expert. I even sold the Apple 11c.
Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 and selling Apple stuff after that was a tough call, except to designers. I switched to the dark side, selling IBM and IBM-compatible PCs, which flew out the door to corporate customers like hot cakes. Ten years later, I ended up as head of sales.
Mr. Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 just as the very smart founders of Computacenter – which by now had a turnover of £1 billion – decided to float the business on the London Stock Exchange. My share options had matured, so I sold them when the company went public in 1998. We bought Château Bauduc with the proceeds a year later and moved here lock, stock and barrel.
Perhaps it was meant to be, but I am hugely indebted to Steve Jobs for enticing me into the exciting world of personal computers after an abject start to my working life. Nowadays, I’m a born-again Apple addict.
By the way, if you haven’t seen the transcript of the ‘Commencement address’ that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005, it is well worth reading. Especially if you are at a crossroads in your career, whatever your age.
“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”