My First Mac

Yes, the Rumors Are True

Chris Edwards - 2001.12.18

I used Apples for ten years, but I got hooked on Macs when I worked for Microsoft in 1995.

I was studying at college and came home one weekend. My dad had this stupid grin on his face, as though he had just done something very, very special. His eyes sparkled in a mischievous way, and he wiggled his finger, motioning me to follow.

I followed him to the study, and there on his desk was this little screen with glowing green letters on it.

"What is it?" I asked.

"A computer" he stated proudly.

"What do you want that for?"

"To compute."

My dad was good at stating the bleeding obvious.

"Yes, but what are you going to compute?" I asked. "You already have a calculator." (He had rushed out and bought one of those HP Scientific Calculators when they first came out - no wonder he was always broke!)

Dad beavered away on that IIc from 1984 until 1994. Unbelievable but true (how many people do you know that used an Apple IIc every day and night for ten years?). My parents actually bought an LC in '92, but my mother commandeered it. Dad was what you might call a "IIc super user" and stuck with the 500 SeriesIIc because he "didn't have time to learn something new!" (Go figure.) Eventually, my mother bought a 575, and that was when my dad advanced to light-speed with the old LC. He died in 1996, but the things he used to do with Excel on the LC still astound me.

Anyway, about my Macs....

In 1985 I was working in an advertising agency, and the company bought three Macs for doing cheap newspaper ads. That was the first time I ever saw a Mac, but I paid no attention to them. In fact, I only ever saw them from about 20 feet away and was never even inclined to go over and look at the screen.

In 1986, I started working as a copywriter with another company (I still couldn't type). I used to write everything on paper and give it to the girls to type up for me. Times were different then - real men didn't type.

When I started my own business, I didn't have anyone to type for me. I went out and bought an LC II. It was 1992, and the start of spending thousands (I'd hate to add it all up!) on Macs. I made a lot of Color Classicexpensive mistakes. I now know that I got all the Mac lemons. I also bought the Colour Classic and a PowerBook 190cs with 24 MB of added RAM and video out - all brand new. Oh, and did I mention the LaserWriter NTR? They were an expensive few years.

Anyway, in '93 I had to get more RAM for the LC II and the Colour Classic. This exercise really pissed me off, because RAM was $100* per megabyte at the time, and I needed 8 MB (4 MB for each) but could only use 2 MB on each as they only supported 10 MB. Doh! $400 wasted. These LCs are looking very expensive.

* That's Australian dollars, worth about 52¢ US, 82¢ Canadian, £0.36, €0.58 this week.

I had to get the RAM, because I couldn't afford a new computer and Quark was running out of RAM. That's right we were using Quark, Photoshop, and Illustrator on these things!

Despite all this, I was far more productive than anyone I knew that used PCs.

The real turning point for me was in 1995, when I worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency that handled the launch of Microsoft Windows 95 in Australia. The art studio used Power Macs, but all the writers and accounting folks used Windows 3.1. There was one PC with a beta version of Windows 95, and the whole office was networked. Microsoft Mail was the order of the day.

I was paid to write tons of direct mail, brochures, TV commercials, etc., saying how revolutionary and exciting Windows 95 was. And it was revolutionary, if you were using Windows 3.1.

This was all total crap, of course, because I had been using these so-called revolutionary features for years. I couldn't work on those cumbersome Windows 3.1 PCs. I went out and bought a PowerBook 190cs (I couldn't afford the 5300c). I wrote all that Microsoft sales stuff on my 190. The one concession I made was to use MS Office 6.0 (another dog of a product - at least I managed to get it with a staff discount).

The PowerBook went in for the Apple fix in '97, and I used it every day until I bought my brand new 7300/180 in '97. (The 190 still works perfectly - my mother uses it every day.)

For the portable experience, I now have a 5300c with 64 MB RAM that I picked up second hand for $130 in 2000. It was busted and had never been in for the Apple fix. I sent it off to Apple, and it came back like new - they even replaced the PRAM battery :-) At last all those years of brand loyalty had paid off.

Today I think I am much wiser, and I have spent so much on computers in the past that I have decided to take a leaf out of my dad's book and stick with what I've got for a while.

My current Mac arsenal includes:

  • G3/233 with 60 GB hard drive: I use this as the family server
  • 8500 with a 375 MHz Sonnet G3, 208 MB RAM, two 17" Apple monitors, two 4 GB and one 2 GB hard drives: This is my workhorse with a Umax Astra 600s + trannie top, Zip, and Yamaha CD writer
  • PowerBook 5300c with 64 MB RAM, 750 MB hard drive: For when I have to travel
  • 7100/66, 40 MB RAM and two 15" monitors: In eldest son's room
  • PowerBook 180, 14 MB RAM, 120 MB hard drive
  • 6100/66, 40 MB RAM: In my daughter's room
  • LC 580, 16 MB RAM: In my youngest son's room
  • LC II: This was my first computer, except it now has a 475 board and 24 MB RAM, so it's not really an LC II any more. ;-)
  • Colour Classic: My sexiest Mac, linked to my sexy Apple PowerCD (this is actually a very cool product IMHO)
  • Mac SE, twin floppy drives (missing)
  • Mac SE/30: This is the Mac I should have bought instead of my LC II, but it was thousands of dollars too expensive. I ended up getting this one earlier this year for $14. It is one of my favourites.
  • Early Mac Plus with Fanny Mac
  • Late model Mac Plus
  • 512k
  • Early model Apple IIe
  • Two late model Apple IIes, one of which I am currently trying to convert into a PPC.
  • My dad's original Apple IIc with various accessories, linked to his old LC II

That's all my Apples for now - apart from my Newton 120, which I used faithfully from day one until I dropped it once too often early in 2001. I had to replace it with a Handspring Edge, but that is another story! The Newton amazed someone at almost every meeting I went to. This was one way-cool product that I really do miss.

You can see from my list of stuff that I like playing with old Macs.

btw My everyday car is a 1969 VW beetle that I bought 21 years ago... So I understand the beetle thing :-)

Chris Edwards is an artist, writer, and e-business consultant in Australia. His website is located at <http://www.chris-edwards.com>.

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