The Lite Side

Thanks for 30 Strange Years: Bumper Snickers, Rumor Generators, the Dell Dude, and More

- 2006.03.31

A brief missive on the 30th anniversary of Apple in which your humble author attempts to set a world record for the ratio of introductory lead in paragraphs to the amount of actual content in the body of an article.

There once were two guys named Steve
One wore his heart on his sleeve
His partner instead
Tried using his head
And made his partner believe.

Apple Computer turns 30 on April 1, and it's not without a small bit of irony that Steve Jobs enjoys noting that both he and his company have been told they only had days to live - and, as Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying, reports of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.

Despite the fun that we here at the Lite Side have poking fun at His Steveness, lampooning His Self and His Company (not withstanding the fun we have poking at the Dark Side), it remains that Mr. Jobs has created a company that generated technology that has changed the world, introduced the computer as a human tool for human purposes rather than as an inhuman machine for corporate purposes, and is in the process of starting a revolution that will leave every known form of music distribution an interesting footnote in the distant future. Whereas we are mere pundits and lampooners, our words passing like dandelion seeds in the breeze, as ephemeral as a stage play, hardly worthy to breathe a few of the same air molecules (which, statistically speaking, we probably have).

Looking back, we remember the cavernous expanse within an Apple II computer; keeping boxes of Apple II software on a desk so students could all run the same program; installing a Grappler printer card and editing in the original version of AppleWorks for the Apple II, where you had to type codes to invoke such effects as bold and italic.

We at the Lite Side remember our first experience with a Macintosh in a professor's office (T!), the wonder of being able to draw and manipulate images on a screen, the utility of a mouse, the mystery of the Chooser; the incessant disk-swapping from OS to software, the streeep-streep-streeping of a dot matrix printer, the first newsletter we ever did on a Mac, and the wonder that we ever accomplished anything without it.

With a bit of nostalgia we look back on our very first online flame war, our shock at the blatant imitation of Windows for the Macintosh interface. We remember the Dark Times, when it seemed the Performas and 5200s would spell the end of Apple As We Knew It (AAWKI). We recall Mac the Knife's nearly unreadable prose, the spin of As the Apple Turns (Jack, where are you?), and even when MacAddict was sharp and wicked instead of merely snarky.

We've made a few of our own memories as well here at the Lite Side, with Bumper Snickers, Rumor Generators, iMacs the size of igloos, and mice made from VW Beetles. We've dumped on the Dell Dude, showed Gateway the door, and watched HP bounce around like a pogo stick rider in training. We've waxed (ineloquently? uneloquent?) on Microsoft monopolies and twisted press releases to mean anything but what they originally intended. But most of all, we've had fun dissecting Apple's marketing strategies, hardware designs, and especially code names for operating systems.

Throughout it all, there's a deep and underlying sense that without the Mac, without Apple, and without the Two Stevenesses, we wouldn't be here writing this interminably long introductory section leading to the shortest body of an article in relation to its introduction in the history of online punditry - or offline, as far as that goes.

So, making the final transition from introduction to body, we expunge our theses, cleaning them up with handy-wipes as we prepare to send a message to Mr. Jobs, Mr. Wozniak, and everyone else at Apple.

Our message today, Constant Reader, to the Steves for Apple and the Mac - and to you for coming back again and again for more Lite Side columns for no clear apparent reason - is simply and finally this:

Thanks.

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