It’s the 30th anniversary of the Mac and, on reflection, I’ve been an Apple user for many of this years. Starting in primary school, we had some introductory computer classes using what would have been Macintosh LC models. I was amazed at the colour screen – comparing all computers to the massive clunky objects I encountered in the various sci-fi TV shows I loved so much.
When I got to University, the main computer labs I used were Mac-only. This was also my first introduction to email, a service I took to like it was written especially for me! Email was, to me at least, very different back then. Of course, it was primarily leisure activity – there was no spam and I had no work emails to deal with.
Trust was also higher. Interestingly, I had a two-year email friendship with someone who got an email address wrong, so it landed in my inbox. I responded (as you did in those days) explaining the mistake, and we continued to chat online. She in the US, me in Dublin, we exchanged daily emails about everything until I graduated.
And of course, there was the internet. The wide open prairie of free knowledge and funny pictures, all accessed via internet connections that would make me weep with frustration if I had to use it now. But then, it was magical. Many was the night I spent in those labs, writing course papers and projects – nearly always just hours away from the deadline.
After graduating, I moved to the UK to do my MSc in Psychology and pretty quickly got email withdrawal. I got my first Mac in 1998, the recently launched “Bondi blue” iMac It was a thing of beauty and I still smile every time I see a photo of one. This was, of course, with the assistance of my father, who nevertheless questioned the absence of a separate “box” and lack of floppy disk drive.
It didn’t really look like a “serious” computer. But I convinced him, and he helped his penniless postgraduate son get the computer that made such a difference to his life in a new city.
My iMac kept me in touch with friends back in Dublin, get access to my postgrad course and complete all of my assignments. When my parents moved house a few years back, I found the iMac in their garage and it’s still a huge regret to me that I didn’t make the effort to pack it up and ship it to London.
I have to hold my hand up and admit to a brief interlude with PCs at this point. I went through a series of laptops and desktops in rapid succession, never really enjoying any of them, but tinkering with RAM and hard drives like it was my job. That and viruses and crummy Windows updates. Computing was no longer fun – in fact, it was more like the maintenance of an ageing car.
I returned to the fold, like many people, via the iPod. I queued up outside the Apple Store in SoHo, New York for my first ever MP3 player – the iPod Mini (the original one). It was the first time I’d queued for any Apple product and it was strangely fun.
(I’ll admit I’ve queued for new Apple products quite a few times since then…)
I then returned to Macs in a big way in the last 13 years, moving through a succession of iBooks, a Powerbook, MacBook Pro and now MacBook Airs. I’ve also had a beautiful iMac for the last few years. I seriously can’t see myself moving away from the Mac.
And I haven’t even mentioned the iPads.
Mac OS X is a beautiful operating system. The computers themselves are (usually) a pleasure to use. My MacBook Air means I can have a powerful computer in my bag without even realising I’m carrying one. The attention to detail and design is superb.
And I’m not alone in thinking this – you only have to look at the rise of the “chicklet” keyboard from other technology firms (even on Chromebooks!) to see that Apple’s design aesthetic has struck a chord with the general public.
To me, Macs are more than computers. They’re very accessible tools to get important things done, but also socialise, create, express and communicate. All with an ease of use that would have blown the mind of my young 10-year old self back in Primary School.
I very much live in the Apple eco-system. Apple products link my music, movies, TV shows, documents, email, blogs…the list goes on. When I open a Mac, I feel like I’m coming home.
For me, it’s very definitely not a status thing. I know my Macs and what they can do. I know how they differ from the other machines out there, and I choose them consciously and with intent. I don’t think I’m following a trend – other than the trend of people wanting usable and stable computers.
And yes, a final cliché – here’s to the next 30 years of Macintosh.
I can’t wait to see what it brings.