Excerpt from What We Keep.
THIS APPLE III was a gift from my father, who was an engineer working with NASA. I was about 16, and we were all supposed to share it, but I took it over almost immediately and persuaded my parents to let it live in my bedroom. I spent hours on it playing games and learning to code, and my dad more or less had to ask permission to use it. But he didn’t seem to mind; he was always incredibly supportive of my interests in science and computers.
‘After I took a job at Microsoft, I had the Apple III sent to Seattle, because it reminded me of how a computer changed my life. Our dream was to revolutionise the way billions of men and women lived and worked, and it was nice, as my career went along – I eventually oversaw Expedia and Encarta – to have a memento of my own journey.
‘There were a lot more women getting computer-science degrees when the Apple III was released in 1980 than there are today. When I talk about the urgent need to help more girls see a future in technology, it’s not just because I think it would be good for those girls – though I do. It’s also because I think it would be better for society. Even now, as we run our foundation, the Apple III is a symbol of our conviction that innovation makes the future better for everyone – and we all benefit when there are more voices at the table making decisions.
‘It turns out that one of the single best predictors of whether a woman goes into a STEM field is whether or not her father believed in her when she was growing up. Well, my father did, in spades.’