40 years of the Mac and why I can’t use anything else now

By the time I was buying my first Apple Macintosh computer the launch of the Mac in 1984 was already a myth, a story shared from one nerd to another, like in an Aboriginal Australian cave painting.

In grade five there was an Apple IIe at the back of the classroom no-one knew how to use but when I realised that the computer magazines at the library full of computer programs and games written in Basic contained not just ideas and lines of code - yes, actual real code just printed in paper magazines - but code I could type into an Apple computer, execute, and then enjoy, I was hooked.

I kept on reading those computer magazines like APCMag, PC User, PCMag, Macuser, Mac Format, and countless others whose names escape me but the school library stocked so generously.

At one stage I designed on paper my dream computer which would triple-boot Microsoft Windows, OS/2 Warp, and Mac OS System 8. I think a “Mac on a PCI card” product had been released, or the opposite for inserting in a Mac, so I designed my Frankenstein’s monster of a computer and presented it to class imagining that they would a) care, and b) be in awe of my product design and computer engineering. Alas neither Steve Jobs or Bill Gates wrote and congratulated me.

I’m not sure how I wrangled it, but somehow our family acquired a Packard Bell IBM-compatible personal computer with a 486 SX 25/33 processor, 4MB of RAM, no sound card, but it did come with Windows 3.11.

The Radio Rentals rented computer and I quickly became close friends but somehow with its 25MHz CPU and 4MB of RAM the computer ran slower than a slug chasing down an ice cream truck.

Enter, my Uncle Grant.

Uncle Grant was my super uncle from Townsville who sold and serviced Apple computers. We’d not been on friendly talking terms about computers since I used his Apple Macintosh and neglected to save a document he had open, but he was quick to diagnose the problem with my computer’s speed: I had an image as my desktop wallpaper. Also, he was quick to quip that “a Mac wouldn’t have that problem.”

What he neglected to acknowledge is that a Withers didn’t have a spare buck either so we went without a Mac for about a decade more.

As I’m sure is the story for most modern Mac users, having your own personal Macintosh Desktop Experience was a dream for too long.

Years later Apple announced the Intel transition from Power PC chipsets and all of a sudden, thanks to an Intel Inside and Bootcamp, these new Macs can run Windows and Mac OS X which is the perfect justification for a nerd to make for a new Apple MacBook purchase.

All white and plastic, it was beautiful, and that new Apple MacBook never needed to be tainted by Bootcamp and Windows. It turned out that Mac OS is actually quite capable on its own.

Not quite as beautiful as that G3 iMac I acquired years after it was ever useful, but always be beautiful.

And that’s why I can’t use any other OS today. I’ve tried Windows and Linux of late, I’m always open to a change so I know I’m using the best tools for the job, but my taste gravitates to the Mac. It is beautiful, useful, and just plain nice. I’ve even tried the iPad as a main computer, or the phone. But it’ll always be the Mac for me. Happy birthday, and hello, old friend.