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Hudson Mac Retailer Reflects on Life of Apple Founder Steve Jobs

Digital Garage owner Greg Tellijohn talks with Patch about his career selling Macs and what Apple founder Steve Jobs means to him professionally and personally.

Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, 56, died Wednesday. Apple announced the news by changing its homepage to a photo of Jobs with the text "Steve Jobs, 1955-2011."

While the loss of the personal computer pioneer has sent shockwaves throughout the tech industry, the news has hit home for a downtown Hudson business owner as well. 

Greg Tellijohn owns and operates a franchise in Hudson's historic downtown district. He began selling Apple computers in 1984 at Computers of Woodbury in what is now .

Patch caught up with Tellijohn Wednesday night to talk about the impact of Apple and Steve Jobs. The following is from that conversation:

Hudson Patch: What does the death of Steve Jobs mean to you, both professionally and personally?

Greg Tellijohn: It's kind of like losing a part of the family in some respects. He's been Apple's founder since 1976. He's always been Apple, in one form or another. I know Apple will continue for several more years because there's a good team and leadership in place right now. What it means in the future is—we wonder that, I guess. 

He's been such an innovator looking to the future, aiming to the next thing and not being content with what's here today. 

Some of his ideas:

  • He was the first to have the mouse in a commercially available product.
  • He was the first to use the three-and-a-half-inch floppy drive.
  • He was the first to get rid of the three-and-a-half-inch floppy drive and go to CD drives.
  • Now he's moving away from CD drives in a couple of his products such as the MacBook Air.  

I never met him. I wish I could have. I've been out to Cupertino to Apple headquarters, but never had a chance to meet him. He controlled the company very tightly and was a great leader to the company. I think Apple will continue without him with Tim Cook as CEO, but he will be deeply missed in the industry.  

Patch: How did you get started in the computer retail industry?

Tellijohn: I originally started selling for a small store in Woodbury in 1984 at the strip mall near Keys Cafe at a store called Computers of Woodbury. 

Then I worked in Amery at a store called Connecting Point. I helped get them established and was there for 12 years selling computers. 

In June 2000, more than 11 years ago, I opened Digital Garage in Hudson. A few years ago, Apple raised the bar on what sales volume was need to be an authorized reseller, and I struggled to make the numbers at that time. So, I lost my reseller ability with Apple and started looking around for someone to partner with, because my heart was alway with Apple computers. I teamed up with MacXprts and we essentially have two stores in one now.

Patch: You say your heart has always been with Apple. Why is that?

Tellijohn: They've just been so easy to use and work with. They just come so naturally that seldom have I ever had to open up a manual. Whenever they came out with something new, it would just build from the previous generation. 

Also, I find that Macs just seem to last longer, which means the return on investment is much greater. I still have customers who are using their original iMac that they bought in 2000. That's 11 years old! I'm still taking in some of those into my museum. I just picked one up last week from a customer who just retired one.

Patch: So, what's the story behind the "Mac museum" in your shop?

Tellijohn: Being in the business, I had seen so many changes, and I had started accumulating so many computers. After a while, I just started displaying one of each product. There are so many products that it's hard to get them all, so I as I started accumulating more, people started donating them to add to my shelf. 

Now I've got some pretty unique things there. I've got the 1986 Mac, which is probably the earliest one I still have. The next one is the Macintosh SE/30, which had the 30MB hard drive in it—a very popular machine. Another popular machine was the Macintosh IIci. I sold a ton of those. Andeson Windows used to be all Macintosh, and I sold a lot of those computers into Anderson Windows. That was back when it cost $2,000 to have 16MB of memory.

Patch: What's your favorite Apple product?

Tellijohn: It really depends on which side of the technology curve you're talking about. Today, I'd have to say the iPad. It one of the greatest and most revolutionary products, and it's so easy to use. The portability, the versatility, and there's over 500,000 applications that will run on the iPad. I see them being used in schools, especially for kids with special needs. It's completely innovating how teachers teach kids.

Peter, Hudson, Wis. October 06, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Excellent local angle on Apple Computer and Steve Jobs. Their products, NeXT and Pixar have changed the world for the better. Someone like Steve Jobs emerges only once in a couple hundred years.

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