I started suspecting some weeks back that we might be close to losing Steve Jobs. I never suspected we were this close, though. This morning's news comes as a shock, and is a source of great sadness.
From the time I first got my hands on an Apple product some three decades ago -- I was lent a IIc by a friend -- I realized that these machines were something unusual and special, especially in terms of being forward-looking and easy to use. And later on, when other friends would come to me for advice on the subject, I would often recommend that they think about getting an Apple. (Bob Greenberger, for example, can vouch for how, in company with a group of DC Comics folk, I happily cooperated in dragging Len Wein into an Apple dealership on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, the goal being to make him buy a Mac.)
I can't now remember when the idea came to me that the Powers that Be in the Young Wizards universe might have a favorite brand of computer. But then the issue came up during the outlining of High Wizardry... and knowing a little of the thinking that supposedly lay behind the Apple logo, there was no other possible candidate for the branding on the computer that would house the version of the Wizard's Manual offered to Dairine.
Over subsequent books -- and as new devices like the WizPod occasionally added themselves to the series -- a few fans here and there have speculated that I must be a very serious Apple geek, or (humorously) that I was being paid by the company for the product placement. Lest anybody should be having doubts about this, people should know that the only money that's ever changed hands between me and Apple would have been when I bought my first iPod some years back. All the computers in our household are PCs of one strain or another, and most of our phones are Android-based. But that doesn't mean that I haven't had my eye on the new iPod Touch for a while... since if it's good enough for my characters, it's certainly good enough for me.
I very much doubt Steve Jobs ever knew about this affectionate running gag. If he had known, I don't think he'd have minded, as I suspect he'd have understood what I was saluting: a certain visionary quality about both the objects he helped create and the thinking behind them. In any case, the trend will be continuing. In the next YW book, the first WizPads will be appearing casually in the background (along with some perhaps predictable interplatform sniping from wizards more firmly in the Android camp). And with today's events in mind, it wouldn't surprise me if somewhere along the line there's a mention that the Powers that Be have recently "reclaimed an out-assigned member of their design team" for important work elsewhere.
...As the wizards would say: Go well, cousin Steve. And thanks for reminding us that it really is possible to change the world for the better if you just keep deciding every day that you're not going to take "no" for an answer.