The Macintosh at 30: A Look Back

 

Apple

Image: Apple.com

Happy Birthday Mac

In January, the Macintosh celebrated it’s 30th birthday. Apple created a special section on its site to mark the occasion. It has some beautiful visuals, along with a cool interactive Macintosh timeline, and a video. In typical Apple style, it is impressive.

“1984″

The Macintosh was officially introduced on January 22, 1984, in a now classic commercial aired during Super Bowl XVII. I was 10 years old at the time. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but I vividly remember seeing the commercial later. The “1984” commercial was as distinct as the computer it introduced. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend watching it. It’s an homage to George Orwell’s book 1984.

First Meeting

Even at that young age, I remember being fascinated by the little computer and the company that created it. Even though it would be more than 10 years before I actually owned my first Macintosh, I still felt a connection to it. It was a symbol of the 80s—the decade that I grew up in. In a way, the Mac and I grew up together. But, back then, I had no idea what an impact the Macintosh would have in computing. Or, the role it would play in shaping my own life.

My Introduction to Computers

In the 1980s, things were very different in the world of computers than they are today. I didn’t know much about Apple or about any other computer. My introduction to that came from my Dad. He was what we would now call a “techie”. We always seemed to have the latest electronic gadgets in our house. We were the first on our block to have cable, and a VCR. In 1981, he bought our first family computer, a Commodore VIC-20. I was 7 years old, but I was amazed by it. I spent hours using it to play games (pretty terrible ones by today’s standards).

Commodore 64

Image: graphics8.nytimes.com

A few years later, he (like millions of others) bought us a Commodore 64. For years, that was our family computer. My Dad used it for work (and believe it or not to go online). I used it for games. The Commodore 64 was not fast (in fact it was unbelievable slow), but it had some great games. For those who have never heard of it before, it was the Playstation/Xbox of the mid-late 80s. My Dad tried to get me into learning computer programming, but I had no real interest. Once IBM got serious about home computing, the Commodore started to fade (helped in part by Nintendo’s entry into the market). Once the Macintosh was introduced, it became a competition between the IBM PC and the Mac.

My First Mac

I didn’t buy my first computer until 1995, and it was a Macintosh (a Macintosh Performa 6300CD, to be exact). I remember my Dad deriding the Mac as “not PC-compatible”, as if that was the only thing that counted. All I know is that I couldn’t have been more pleased with my Mac. The first time I powered it up and heard the startup chime, I fell in love. I had discovered what millions of Macintosh users had already experienced: the Mac was fun and easy to use. It did everything that I needed it to do. There was something about the design and simplicity that I connected with.

Macintosh Performa 6300CD

Image: Revneal.org

I may have been forced to use a crappy IBM PC at work, but I was happy to come home to my Mac which literally smiled at me when I powered it up. I was hooked. I’ve been a loyal Macintosh user ever since, proudly extolling its virtues to anyone who’ll listen.

Connections

Here are some interesting facts that may explain my strong bond with Apple and the Macintosh.

The Macintosh and I were both born in the same month.

We were both born in January. In fact, we both celebrated milestone birthdays this year. I turned 40, and the Mac turned 30.

Apple and I were born on the same day.

Interestingly enough, both Apple and I were born on January 3rd. Though, I’m older by 4 years. Apple Computer was incorporated in the state of California (my home state) on January 3, 1977.

Born? Really?

You might think it strange to say that a computer or a company were “born”. It’s true that they weren’t born in the conventional sense, but the general idea still applies. I always though the commonalities were interesting. Interesting enough, it seems, to share with the world on a blog!

Smiling Mac

Image: IconArchive.com

Always Loyal

I’ve stuck with the Mac through good times and bad. I remember the dark times in the 90s when everyone left Apple for dead. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for Apple not to be on top. But, back then, being a Mac user was definitely not cool. Fortunately, the resurrection of Steve Jobs and the introduction of the iMac put Apple back on track. Before long, Apple was cranking out fantastic new products like the iBook and iPod. With the iPhone and iPad, Apple not only returned to profitability, it became a cultural icon. Buying a Mac, or any Apple product, now is common. To some, it might make you seem cool. Funny how things change.

For those of us who remember the Mac’s beginnings and stuck with it when others abandoned it, we celebrate 30 years with pride. Here’s hoping for another 30 years of the Mac.

Steve