What Is a Blog? And Is Low End Mac One?

It irks me every time someone refers to Low End Mac as a blog instead of a website, and that really begs the question: What is a blog?

That’s a simple question without a simple answer.

Characteristics of Weblogs

Back in 1997, when the first blogs were just starting out, they were called weblogs for the first time, and they were each the work of a single individual who posted their thoughts regularly – several times a week if not daily. One other characteristic of blogs is that entries are in reverse chronological order, so the newest content is the first thing you see.

The consensus is that the first weblog was links.net, which was simply Justin Hall’s personal site launched in 1994. It wasn’t until 1997 that the term weblog was coined, and weblogs were not widely known until 1998-99. In fact, at the start of 1999, there were only 23 weblogs known on the entire internet! That was the year that weblogs began to be called blogs.

That was also the year that the predecessor of Blogger was launched, making it relatively easy for users to create their own blogs, and the number of blogs exploded. There are now tens of millions of blogs, perhaps hundreds of millions.

What About Low End Mac?

Made with Claris Home PageLow End Mac began in early 1997 on my personal web space, a characteristic it shares with early blogs. I had a personal account with a local ISP, a copy of Claris Home Page, a Macintosh Centris 610 computer, and a 14.4 modem. I wanted to share my thoughts on multiple chemical sensitivity, church history and church growth, some of my book design projects at work, and my thoughts on the oldest useful Macs at the time, which ranged from the Mac Plus up through the Mac II family.

The New Low End Mac User Site

Over time, the site’s name got shorter.

The goal was for this book designer to understand the next big thing, web design. It’s a whole different structure because there are no page breaks, Macs and Windows computers tended to display the same page very differently, and you couldn’t even know which typefaces (commonly called fonts, but typographers know better) would be installed on the computer viewing your page(s).

Low End Mac’s official launch date is April 7, 1997, when I spread the word that these two dozen Mac profiles were on my personal web space. Other sites saw the link and shared it. Very soon we had our first month serving 25,000 pages. It completely blew my mind that something I started as a way to learn web design and to help people with really old Macs could generate that kind of interest.

One of my earliest technical pieces covered the two competing standards in 56k modems, X2 and K56flex, which were not compatible with each other beyond 33.6k. The No Hype 56k Modem Page was my first FAQ, explaining that users would never achieve 56k in the real world, that this was only a download speed, that fast downloads meant slower uploads, and some really techy stuff about serial ports, buffering, and latency. Technical writing at its best!

Fortunately the industry eventually agreed on a single standard for 56k modems, which made buying one easier.

I didn’t write my first editorials until July 15, 1997, so you couldn’t have called Low End Mac a blog prior to that date. And it didn’t list articles in reverse chronological order because they were both posted on the same date.

  • Can You Plug All Types of People into One Type of Computer? looked at Microsoft’s claim in print ads that people could use any kind of computer because they all ran Windows 95. Yeah, you can see where a Mac guy would find that annoying.
  • Gil Amelio: Facts & Speculation looked at what was happening at Apple. Amelio had resigned as Apple CEO, and there seemed to be more smoke than fire in the commentary I was reading online. I did my best to separate the facts from the speculation.

RhapsodyTen days later I wrote another editorial, and then an article by John Halbig, Confessions of a Microsoft User, on August 8 – our first guest editorial. On August 23 and September 10, I looked at the impact of Macintosh clones and porting Rhapsody to Intel.

Later in September, I took it upon myself to explain Rhapsody with its red, blue, and yellow boxes. And in October, when I learned that Yale was ending Mac support, I created a new section of Low End Mac, MacInSchool, to stand up for Macs in education. We would use this section soon enough to fight for Macs in our own school system.

So that’s 8 editorials over a four-month period, including one guest editorial. No, that doesn’t sound frequent enough for a blog.

In November 1997, Low End Mac became part of the MacTimes Network, where several small Macs sites, including Pure Mac and Bare Feats, banded together to create something new and bigger.

1998 Was a Different Story

Low End Mac logo 1998

I wish I had the original of this reader-contributed logo.

In 1998, I wrote a lot more editorials (notice that I don’t call them blog entries), 79 in all, and only one was a guest editorial. That’s definitely more blog-like, but that boils down to me writing 1.5 articles per week. Still not frequently enough to qualify as a blog.

MacTimes understood the realm of news: You put the newest stuff first, which is also what bloggers do. Most of my articles were under the Low End Mac name, but some were part of the Macintosh Online Tech Journal, and some were published under Thinking Different, along with editorials by other MacTimes writers. It made MacTimes seem like a larger network. And then in May, we added The iMac Channel after Steve Jobs previewed Apple’s next great thing.

What About 1999?

Low End Mac 1999 logo

Not our best logo.

We moved to our own domain, lowendmac.com, in March 1999 and parted ways with the MacTimes Network shortly thereafter. Here’s a link to one of our home pages from March 1999. Just like on news sites and in blogs, our newest content is listed first. Most of my editorials were now under the Mac Musings heading instead of Thinking Different, a name that remained with MacTimes.

In 1999, we published 131 articles under Mac Musings, The iMac Channel, Online Tech Journal, etc., and 8 of those were written by other. We also added our first regular columnists: Evan Kleiman started writing Mac Happens in January with a new article every 7-10 days, and Charles W. Moore, formerly with MacTimes, came on board in September with Miscellaneous Ramblings once a week.

So I wrote 123 articles, averaging 2.365 per week. Evan Kleiman has 31, averaging 0.60 per week, and Charles W. Moore consistently hit the 1 per week mark. That averages 4 new articles per week, which is almost enough to qualify as a blog under the definition of “almost daily or daily content”.

This was the year that blogging exploded, and even in our third year online, we didn’t publish enough new content to qualify as a blog.

So What Is Low End Mac?

Low End Mac logo, 2003

LEM 2003 logo

Put simply, Low End Mac is a website. Plain and simple. We publish profiles of almost everything Mac and iOS related. We have technical articles. We have editorial content. We manage a bunch of email lists and have several groups we oversee on Facebook.

Although we have diversified to cover PCs and 8-bit computers from the 1970s and 1980s, we are still primarily a resource for Macintosh users who want to get the most out of their aging Apple gear. A helpful website that has built a helpful community.

That’s what Low End Mac is.

Low End Mac Early History

Further Reading

keywords: #blogging #website #weblog

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