I realize you're swamped with emails, but I had to send this...
I was first introduced to computers (Apple //+ at the time) when I was 12 years old, and began programming in BASIC on the Apple at age 13 (this was back around 1982/83)... Since that time, I've been hooked on personal computers, from the Apple //e, the Mac, the Amiga, and of course, the PC. I've used them all.
However, if not for the Apple //, and the opportunities that it opened for me, I don't know what job I would have today. The thought of not using computers, quite frankly, disturbs me...
Today, I too am a teacher. I teach a number of computer courses (computer graphics, design, video editing, etc), as well as media courses such as television production and broadcasting. It's a great and satisfying feeling to be able to share my computer knowledge and experience with my students - I truly enjoy it.
I'd like to thank you for opening that door for me by designing and building a computer that was affordable enough for my parents to buy, with an elegant design that allowed seemingly limitless experimenting and tinkering.
And here's a personal account for you. I still remember the first time that I ever saw an Apple //. The memory is still vivid, even from age 12. My father had brought me into a new college computer lab outfitted with Apples, and was typing in a BASIC program. When he backspaced over the text to type in a correction, I asked how he did it, and he showed me the backspace key. That was all it took - I was entering my own programs the next year.
I respect the fact that you're teaching children now. I respect that very greatly... You're opening doors for them in the same way that you opened a door for me some 18 years ago, and hopefully, many of them will find their own career path in the same way and return to thank you as well!
Your first Apple ][ memory is a good one. Those of us who were there can see what it means to have an outstanding memory from age 12. It's a very life shaping thing to see a program correction made for the first time ever. I remember the time I ran a wire up the block to a friend's house and we hooked up telegraph keys (we could both do Morse code, and I myself was a ham radio operator) and speakers. I heard my friend talking and was shocked. The speakers were also microphones. That took our neighborhood intercom to a new level and we got mikes and amplifiers from then on. Unexpected surprises are the best way to learn, because it means more.
It's this exact sort of experience that I've wanted to bring to young kids my whole life, and which is a major part of the reason that I like teaching. It doesn't happen every day but it's wonderful to see when students unexpectedly 'get' something.
Keep up the good things that you do.
First I want to say thank you, not just for your contributions as an engineer but for serving as a valuable role model as well. My personal experiences with computers evolved from the C64's to Apple IIe's, Windows then UNIX (several varieties) and now I feel as though I found the perfect OS with Linux. With all the discussion of Mac vs. Windows it seems like other good options don't get the recognition they deserve. I would like to know your opinions on these alternative OSes (Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, etc...) as well as the open source movement. Have you ever played around with any of the other systems and if so do you think it possible that you might switch to something other than a Mac?
It's only been Apple ][ and Mac for me. I used a little UNIX in the far past, and have to touch on it for some of the network equipment that I administer.
Over the years I met so many people doing things with Atari computers, particularly the Amiga, that were not easily doable with Macs or any other PC, that I was very impressed. Many of the best people ('best' meaning those that want things other than normal and that can't stop moving and all) are into Linux so I admire it. But with all my time consumed with a large family and many computers to maintain and a network too, and mail and magazines and updates and all, I won't have time for things like Linux for quite a while. I actually look forward to my children being gone.