For most of my life, I have been a PC guy, that is, after my Commondore 64 days. I was there for the the very beginning of Microsoft Windows 3.1. I spent hours being amazed at their killer program, Paint, and the thrilling games Minesweeper and Solitaire. And then came the fully featured Windows 95 which became 98, ME, and 2000 before finally being updated for real in XP which was the last Windows OS I actually used for any length of time.
My paternal grandfather became my patron saint of computers through the evolution of the home PC, and the rise of the Internet. He tended to upgrade his system fairly often, and when he did he would pass his old computers onto my family. My older brother Joe learned more about the inner workings of computers, but I jumped right into the mode of the everyday consumer user. I remember logging onto the very first Lego.com and StarWars.com, back in the day when the Internet was still a novelty. I loved games, playing DOS favorites Commander Keen and One Must Fall, and the very first Need For Speed game that launched their rise to fame: Hot Pursuit.
While I was such a PC user, let’s be clear, I was never a PC fanboy, I was aware of the other side of computing: the Apple computer. Some friends of my parents were Mac users from beginning, and whenever we visited for dinner, they would invariably stay late talking, and I would get bored and be allowed to play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego on the Mac.
Eventually though, through the mid to late 90s, Apple started to make their rise to dominance, which they are continuing through today, and I started to hear a lot more about them on a regular basis. I was so taken with them, that by the time I contemplated my very first computer purchase, I was dead set on buying an Apple computer. I hadn’t used one in years, and only knew about them by reputation, but that reputation was strong enough to convince me to spend three times what I knew I could spend on a PC.
My family was about to move to Papua New Guinea for mission work, and I didn’t want to lug my old beige tower and huge CRT monitor across the world. Besides, I knew I would soon be starting college, and wanted a smaller computer to take with me. So I sold my PC, and bought a 2004 generation Apple iBook.
Since that time I have owned another older iBook (a G3), one of the first Intel iMacs, a Macbook, and now currently use an Aluminum iMac and an iPad. My only prenuptial agreement with my wife was that she ditch her Toshiba laptop, and I bought her a Macbook Air. I will never go back to PCs, and that decision runs deeper than a Mac fanboy fascination.
I really believe that Apple will be the computer of the future. Computers began as a digitization of two things: math and file storage. Way back to the UNIAC and ENIAC days, computers were glorified building sized calculators. By the time Microsoft came along, computers were glorified typewriters that also stored all your documents. That is why Windows Explorer is a file manager. Programs, or applications (games, picture editors, and other things) really were sort of an afterthought. People began to see the potential of computers, and started to write more sophisticated programs for them to run. But still, computers were primarily file cabinets.
Once the Internet went mainstream and Mac rose from the ashes, Apple turned the computer into a machine that was about the program, not the files. In other words, it wasn’t that you could also store your pictures in a digital format on your computer, but it was that your computer could show you pictures in a way never before thought possible. Music on the computer wasn’t just an alternative to a CD player, but a whole new way to play music. And movies, and so on. While the PC could do all those things, the Mac was built from the ground up to be all about those things.
Mac took the daily life things, and exploded them. My iBook was my first step into the larger world of computers that were not machines to be used, but were extensions of myself, in the same way that clothing is not just something humans wear, but part of their being.
To be continued….