James is a photographer and writer based in Los Angeles. He is the author of "Tokyo DisneySea in Photographs".

I was smarter when I was a kid

Back in the early/mid 1990s I got my first PC, which was an Apple Macintosh. A Performa 637, if I recall correctly. Being a teenager and into technology, I was heavily invested in the culture of this computer and became entranced by the culture of Apple in general. Being invested in computers back then was still a somewhat rare thing, especially for a teenager. It was even more rare to be an Apple user. You mostly faced ridicule from people who used Windows PCs and Apple was always “dumb” or “going out of business” or some other negative thing. That opposition usually just cemented the Apple community as even more devoted, so I became a zealot pretty quickly.

Despite having no income or even allowance to speak of, I remember scanning issues of Macworld and MacUser, always fascinated at all the cool stuff I could get “if only” I could afford it. I distinctly remember that one of the issues of MacUser had a gift guide, and one of the suggested gifts was to buy the Apple fan in your life a few shares of Apple stock. At the time I think Apple stock was something like $35 a share (which wasn’t even the lowest Apple stock would hit during it’s “dark times”). As a barely-teenager I thought it was such a cool idea to potentially own a piece of a company I liked, and strongly considered buying a couple of shares with some of my birthday/Christmas money that I usually saved for comics. It wasn’t about “investing” to me: I think it just appealed to my feeling independent and adult-like to own stock, and the only three companies I remotely cared about at the time were Nintendo, Marvel Comics and Apple. 

I never went ahead with it though, mostly because in the pre-internet era I had no clue how to actually buy a stock, or if I would even be able to do so without being an adult. I didn’t see the situation going very well:

"Hello, Jerry’s Stock broker? Yeah, I want to buy some stock. Apple? Yeah, AAPL. Yes, I’m serious. Yes, I know the stock is rated poorly. Yes. Two shares. No, not two hundred, just two. Yes. Yes, I’m serious. Write you a check? Well, I don’t have a checkbook. No, I don’t have a credit card either. I have cash. I can meet you somewhere. How old am I? Well… Hello? Hello? Jerry?

Had I bought those two shares, they would have become four shares when Apple split their stock in 2000. Four shares of Apple stock today are collectively worth nearly $2400. 

I was smarter when I was a kid.

  1. consumermachine posted this