Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the Mac, and Apple have gone all-out in a beautifully designed look back. I’ve been using these things for most of the time they’ve existed, and wanted one for longer. Before they were relatively affordable, I looked in magazine, skulked around dealers, and made a teenage nuisance of myself. To reminisce:
My first Mac was a Mac LC in 1991, and it was a revelation after years of an Apple II clone. It cost around $3000 for the pizza-size box alone, and we had a 12″ screen to go with it. That 512×384 screen could show 16000+ colours at once, which was amazing for the time, but my iPhone has more pixels. When I’d borrowed a maths co-processor card, I was able to do 3D rendering, and I remember setting up a 3D scene in a text file, commenting the whole thing out, then uncommenting a line at a time, describing a frame of the animation at a time, then setting it to render a tiny frame for fifteen minutes while I watched one of the Friday 13th movies. Each ad break, I’d come back upstairs, comment out the line describing the last frame, and uncomment the next. And of course, I’d made it madly complex; a bubble rising in front of a sink (with water) and two mirrors above it. Asking for trouble, indeed. But it worked, and the camera moves were nice and smooth because the numbers describing them came from sin/cos functions. These days, you’d just move some beziérs and it would render in real time, but in those days, the Mac ran at 16MHz. The Mac I’m typing on is over 2000 times faster than that.
Anyway, I eventually got a Mac SE to stick at the end of my bed to write a thesis on, then a Power Macintosh of some kind, a Mac clone, a PowerBook G3 ($7000, cost shared with work, one of the first DVD players inside), an iMac, worked on a PowerMac G4 for a while, had a sunflower iMac (awesome looking machine) at home, then a PowerBook G4 12″, a MacBook Pro 15″, a Mac Pro, a MacBook Pro, a MacBook Pro 13″ retina, and finally a top-of-the-line iMac 27″.
While I can’t recommend a Mac for every situation (specific needs can trump other considerations) they really are good computers. They aren’t the cheapest thing out there, but they’ve never been a purchase I’ve regretted.
Seeing how far they’ve come, though — I wonder what we’ll be using in another 30 years?