At peace

Comment from E-mail

My name is Michael C. Barnes. I read the first Popular Electronics Magazines about personal computers while I was in the Army. I never thought that this would lead to a career. It just looked like something that would be really cool. I used my GI Bill and signed up for a Digital Industrial Electronics Course and a CREI Microprocessor Technology course. I was consumed by my hobby.

I think that it was 1978 or so, I saw the Apple computer at the first Computer show that I went to in Washington, D.C. Almost every booth had an Apple or some CPM machine. At that time, I was astonished by the graphics. I remember thinking that they looked like cartoons.

I was reading articles that had your name and Steve Job's name. I felt that I was left behind. I even felt that I was an under achiever because you guys were building an industry and I was simply serving my country.

When I got out of the Army, I went into Government but left because I simply felt the call of computers.

I was out trying to find a way to make money in computers about 1980. At that time, the only computers were Atari, Apple, and a bunch of CPM machines. I worked in a store that sold audio, video and computers. At this time, everyone in the industry was doing it as a hobby. I think everyone was simply having fun.

I finally got into the industry professionally working for Burroughs. The person that hired me now runs all of the Americas for Sun. He told me that when he me me, he instantly realized that the indsustry was changing and there was a new generation of computers emerging. He said he never heard anyone talk about computers the way I did and hired me simply because he felt that not hiring me would cause him to fall behind.

Four years later, I was at Sun Microsystems. All this time, I felt that I was in the shadow of people like you. I never believed I could make it rich or make a name for myself simply working for someone else.

Over the years, the industry has changed. By simply working for Sun and buying their stock, I became a millionare. I wound up in Thailand. I started my own company based on a loudspeaker design I came up with. I am now creating amplifiers and audio equipment -- as a hobby. I get more recognition for this than anything I have ever done.

At 46, I am finally at piece. I think that I did okay and that I don't need to feel that I didn't meet my potential. My family is secure. I love my work. I have invented something.

Thank you for setting the bar high. I believe that my modest success is in due part to the early success that pioneers like you had. I think you made it easy for late comers such as myself.


Your story probably means much more to many more people than my own. We, and the way we started Apple, were the rare exception, and not what people should be taught to expect. But your story is more real and an example of just plain wanting to be in the industry and making sound decisions that did well for you. The best thing is that you say you are at peace. Not everyone could do what we did with Apple, but everyone should see themselves capable of your sort of success.

Thanks for sharing this fine story with me.