Picture it: San Francisco, 1977. My best friend and I had just graduated from college with degrees in broadcasting. She got a job at a little start-up cable company as a production assistant where they were making “made-for-TV” movies. I didn’t get it. What was cable TV?
At the time, television was broadcasted through the air by three major networks. For free. These networks all aired talk shows in the morning, soap operas until mid-afternoon, some game shows and re-runs of Gilligan’s Island and Dark Shadows until dinner, news, prime-time dramas and comedies but it was mostly cop shows (Kojak and Streets of San Francisco were big), more news and then more talk shows and the went off the air around 1 AM. If the networks wanted to air a made-for-TV movie, they made it themselves and it was usually horrible. It didn’t happen much.
Who was going to pay for some independent production company to make movies? How was this company going to sell their movies? I didn’t get it. So, I got a job at a little sound recording company while my best friend kept working at HBO.
While I was at the little sound recording company, a couple of young guys — both named Steve — in jeans, pressed shirts and very white tennis shoes came in to talk to the boss about a job. My boss said they were going to be rich. The chief engineer told me they had invented a computer people could have in their homes.
At the time, all I knew about computers was that they were huge machines with big rolls of fat tape spinning through them and that NASA’s computers were so big, they took up an entire room.
“Why would I want a computer in my house,” I asked the engineer. “To get information,” he said. “I can go to the library for information,” I said. “I don’t get it.”
And that was my brush with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the creators of Apple.
Then I decided my career in media wasn’t going anywhere, so I went to law school. While I was in law school, my brother-in-law asked me to hurry up and finish so I could come work for him at his little start-up gaming company in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. “Woo-hoo,” I thought to myself sarcastically. I’d been to Lake Geneva. It was over a hundred miles from urban anywhere. And it had this odd little anomaly: there was absolutely no one else there my age. There were lots of people older than me and there were lots of children and sarcastic teenagers, but I didn’t see anyone I’d want to hang out with other than the family. So, I passed.
What was the name of my brother-in-law’s game, you ask?
Dungeons & Dragons.