I’m actually a year late. Last year was the 20th anniversary of a pretty major moment in my life: the day I first used a Macintosh computer.
I didn’t realize how big the moment was at the time, because I was not the gadgety techy Internetty geek you know and love today. I was a journalism student at a Canadian college. We were learning the craft the old-fashioned way, using phototypesetters and PMT cameras to build our weekly newspaper. Pagination was a fairly new concept at the time, and we had heard about PageMaker, but none of us had ever used it. And then the Macs showed up. Three of them, those classic little boxes with the tiny black-and-white screens … man, these things were cool.
It’s easy to forget how revolutionary the Macintosh was. My computing experience had been limited to writing games in BASIC on Commodore PETs and on my first home machine, a VIC-20. I had tinkered with an IBM XT, but I never cared much for DOS and, to be honest, during the mid-to-late 80s I was less interested in computers and more interested in getting my hair just right and cruising around in a K-Car. I was a very cool guy.
The Mac was something new. It had a mouse; it wasn’t the first computer to use one, but it was the first to make it work well. It had a GUI, a classic and simple design that set the standard we still use today, whether we’re on Vista, Linux or OSX. And it sure speeded up our production process. Within weeks, the phototypesetting machine had a dust cover on it, and once we got our hands on a scanner that was it for the PMT camera.
But what I liked most about that Mac was its MacDraw and MacPaint software. I was, back then, still an avid artist and cartoonist, and the ability to produce art on-screen — in black and white, of course — was revolutionary for me. (I even considered dumping J-school for a career in graphic design, for about five minutes.)
Looking back, I can see the foundations of most of my interests — personal and professional — in those funny-looking little beige computers. Art, music, journalism, podcasting, web design … all the things I do for fun and money are possible because of what Apple came up with all those years ago. I knew those Macs were something special that first day, and I was right.
Over the years, I would own several of my own, although it has now been five years since I started using Windows at home. Not for much longer, though.
We’re talking about an overhaul of our home computing setup. My kids are old enough now for their own computers, and we’re looking for the right fit. We already have computers all over the place, but a couple of them are getting pretty old and aren’t much good for anything other than a free chess game I downloaded in 1997.
This got me thinking about going back to Mac, putting at least one Mac in the house, on our network.
I admit this is probably more for me than for the kids; they aren’t fussy. They just want to play those online flash games and type up lists of reasons why my cooking sucks. But a new Mac would greatly increase my own productivity. Honest.
Bringing a Mac back into the house would make me pretty happy. It’s just a matter of finding the right one. Wait, what’s this?