I've been wrong about a great many things in my life. However, I'd like to think that I've been right about just as many, maybe even more. There are even a few things that I've been both right and wrong about. This is one of them.
Jul 16, 2003
Jul 16, 2003
My first experience with Apple computers was in grade school. Around 1983, our sad private school in the middle of Detroit got an Apple II. They strapped it to a cart with an external 5 1/2" floppy drive and a monochrome green screen, installed Oregon Trail, and called it good. I didn't care that it was an Apple, I was in awe of the computer's existence alone.
Within a year or two, several friends had Commodore 64 computers and I had all but forgotten that Apple Computer existed. In 1988, a school friend got a hand-me-down Macintosh SE. He was excited to show me his latest game, Shadowgate. I, however, was far more interested in the operating system. There was no command line. No prompt. Just little pictures. A mouse was attached to the left side of the keyboard (Ben was left handed, I am not). The interface was interesting... just not "natural feeling" (later I recognized this was most likely due to the fact I was trying to use the mouse with my left hand). As awkward as that first experience was, it left an impression on me. Something about it "clicked."
A year later, windows started to spread from lab to lab. (CG labs were the last to get it since Deluxe Paint was DOS-based.) At first glance, I though that these computers were related to the once that Ben had years earlier. But, something just wasn't right. Why was there a floating "window" containing all of the icons? What's with all of the wasted space behind it? Why does every window have a menu of it's own when you can only use the menu of the active window? Over time, I became used to the non-intuitive interface of Windows. I discovered the Corel suite of applications, but still clung to Deluxe Paint (even when crippled by poor graphic support). Even the games seemed to run slow under the extra load of the interface.
Soon, my parents bought their first Intel-based computer. I dealt with Windows for a few months then discovered IBM's OS/2. It was faster. You could run several applications at the same time! You could run Windows applications! It had an application dock! Huh? A collection of icons on a bar that you could access quickly. What a novel idea! It was great... except... you couldn't run most of the graphics applications that I had grown so used to. As I began college, I started doing CAD work at Johnson Controls. AutoCAD would not run well under OS/2. Enough of that. Windows returned... kind of. AutoCAD r.11 was still mostly a DOS application. But, I was getting used to all of this. I had even upgraded just about every component of my parent's aging 386 dx2. Then, I had my first university computer art class... on a Mac. It was so different... and there was only one mouse button! I did everything I could to work on projects at home... on my trusty (well, almost trusty... most of the time... sorta) PC. When it was time to capture photos, I even tried adding a pricey genlock card to keep up with the built-in features of the University Macintosh. I did very well with my projects, however I could no longer afford to keep upgrading my aging home computer.
I began to schedule seat time with the school's Mac. At that time it was pretty high-end. Ergo keyboard, video-in and out, 17" monitor, and a PowerPC processor. Fast was an understatement. Once I overcame my inexperience with the platform, I was able to do amazing things with the animation and paint software. The mouse was more fluid. It moved how I wanted. I no longer had to think around the interface. A few weeks after my epiphany, I stopped at one of the three million Discover Card booths on campus and got a credit card. O.k., not just a credit card, my first credit card. Using that and a little bit of saved college money, I bought my first Macintosh in the fall of 1995.
Fueled by curiosity and the prospect of a fresh interface, I spent days on my new computer. Seriously. Days. Looking back, that's pretty sick. But I learned a lot. It was a whole new world. I picked up things in days that took months on the PC. Granted, I had a few years of generic computer experience under my belt. But, everything just made more sense. I'm still proud of the art work I created on my new computer. Adobe software opened new creative avenues for me. I was able to expand my web development interests in new directions, too.
I guess I was lucky. I came into the Macintosh market after a significant recovery. Just a year earlier, Apple was in dire straits. Now the upswing was apparent. I started to relate with the Mac community. Rumors of big changes were on the horizon. So, I invested in Apple and Motorola. The timing was good, Apple released the iMac, followed shortly by iBook. Wallstreet loved Apple once again. Consumers inhaled anything bondi-colored.
When the G4 tower was released, I decided it was time to replace the Franken-Mac that I had kept alive with CPU and storage upgrades. A few years later, I bought the Titanium Powerbook G4. I've migrated my Linux-based home servers to a single OS X Server. The man that had once proclaimed "PCs may have bugs, but Apples have worms" was now a complete convert. Bury me with my iPod and Powerbook, this is the life. The OS just make sense. The hardware is bulletproof. What next?
How about more power? Never before has such a single generation performance jump occurred. Apple has announce the G5 and I lust for one. Their server hardware is respected by enterprise customers and skeptical media alike. They are still subject of more rumors and speculation than any other company in the industry. More people are switching to Apple than ever before... including many of my friends.
While the remaining big PC names are battling a low price war, Apple continues to innovate, inspire, and act. Just a few years ago, I was seen as a Macintosh Evangelist... a zealot. Now, I'm just another fan.
Further information and related links:
Power Macintosh G5 Info