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My Macs

26 January 2014 · Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The Mac just turned 30. I’ve owned nothing but Macs for 24 of those years.

My first computer wasn’t a Mac. It was a TI-99/4A. I perplexed my non-techie parents by saving up $230 working odd jobs during the summer of 1982 to buy it. I loved that thing. 16 colors, you hooked it up to your TV and when you turned it on you got nothing but a BASIC prompt.

It came with a manual that included a tutorial on how to program. I dove in and pretty soon was writing simple games and saving the programs to cassettes that sounded like modem chatter when you played them back.

I wrote a TRON cycle game, a maze game where you got chased by baddies, and a psychologist’s couch thing where you answered canned questions with canned responses. (None of these were particularly compelling, but I learned a lot!)

I didn’t buy myself a Mac until 1990, but as soon as I did the same excitement I felt learning BASIC on my TI-99/4A came rushing back. This was pre-web, so what I got into was desktop publishing. Aldus PageMaker. The Mac is not a typewriter. So fun. I’m no designer, but I made hay with my Mac. Posters, brochures, training materials, resumes. I was a digital type master thanks to my Mac.

A couple of years later, I saw the World Wide Web for the first time. I remember thinking it was nice and all, but Gopher was going to win because that’s where the content was!

My initial reaction quickly discredited, it wasn’t long before I was learning HTML 1.0, putting together a simple presence for myself on the Information Superhighway. My College of Education advisors weren’t sure what to do with me when I decided to write the terminal paper for my Master’s degree about the potential effects of computer-mediated communication on college student development.

3 years later, I quit a promising comfortable career in college student affairs and hung out my shingle as a freelance web developer.

Looking back on it, I didn’t know how little I knew. Maybe that’s a good thing. I didn’t know enough to be afraid to make that leap and it’s led to all manner of opportunities and job security in the 15 years since.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be a compendium of the Macs I’ve owned. Let’s get on with it.

  1. Mac LC – 256 colors, 13″ monitor, compact “pizza box” form factor…so much HyperCard goodness.
  2. Quadra 630 – workhorse of a machine featuring the 68040 processor, FPU FTW!
  3. PowerComputing PowerTower Pro – yep, a clone!
  4. Power Mac G4 – this is the one that was supposed to ship at 500MHz, but was dropped to 450MHz due to CPU yield problems. I wrote Steve Jobs to complain (as did a fair number of us in the same boat) and Apple did the right thing and gave us a bit of money back.
  5. iBook G3 – first laptop I owned and I was hooked, didn’t buy another desktop machine until my Mac mini.
  6. 15″ PowerBook G4 – 1GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM…oh the symmetry!
  7. MacBook – why, yes, I did pay the additional 50 bucks for black.
  8. 15″ MacBook Pro – I didn’t technically buy this one, it was a parting gift when I was laid off from Digg.
  9. Mac mini – bought it as a media machine, hooked it up to an HD TV. Never really felt like the right approach. I recently replaced it with an Apple TV.
  10. 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display – this is the recent rev running Mavericks that gives you, like, 12 hours of battery life. The display is amazeballs. It’s super light. This is the perfect computer, in my opinion.

How far we’ve come since 1990. My Mac LC set me back more than $2,000 even with my .edu discount. My retina MacBook Pro cost me less than $1,000. Moore’s law, indeed.

Specs aside, it’s what my Macs have enabled me to do that truly blows my mind. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing for work if not for this incredible tool. Thank you Apple. Thank you Steve.