My Turn

Nostalgic Inspiration

Scott Webb - 2001.08.03

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

I've got a Mac Classic sitting on the floor in my living room. It doesn't do anything, really. It's not a file server, a Web server, or a piece of art in a collection. It's just sitting there, humming away lightly, being unobtrusive. And that's how I like it.

It looks kind of cute sitting there. So small, yet once so powerful in comparison with the rest of the computing world. (Okay, so it wasn't a supercomputer in its day, but it was a lot more then that it is now.) It's not even my machine. A friend left it over here with the screen saver running.

I find there is something irresistible about that little machine. Every time I walk by it I have to stop and look at it; it makes me smile. I want to sit down at it and be productive. That's what I do, too.

But at this time in my life there isn't much to be productive for. I don't have a company that I would need to type up revenue projections. I don't need to create presentations or design Web graphics. Mac ClassicSo what do I do? I make things up. I designed a fictional company for the express purpose of typing up a business plan using the Macintosh Classic. In fact, I'm writing this article on the little guy. I know I will have a hard time getting it from this computer to my G4, but there is something about being in the face of inspiration that keeps me going.

An aged computer using an aged program (MacWrite II Release 1.1). Would this happen in the PC world? I don't ever feel like playing with any of the 286s I walk by. Sure, I've never owned one, but I've never owned a Mac Classic either.

I can see how the Mac design was such a revolutionary beginning in 1984. Whether or not it inspired the same "Gee, I want to be productive" feeling in people's minds when they saw it back then, I don't know. I was too young then to care or even know about it.

What I feel now is a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia of something I've never had but still understand. It's this nostalgic inspiration that keeps me writing this article, and I tell you, I'm not good at finishing any sort of writing I start.

This unobtrusive yet artistic little machine creates this flow of ideas. Maybe that's what computers are all about. You can get ideas and inspiration from the design you use. I can see that Apple understands - not including the Flower Power or Dalmatian iMacs, of course.

I'm referring to the iBook and the PowerBook G4. They are simply elegant and unobtrusive, yet you can't help but look at them, smile, and say, "Wow, would you look at that?"

I was never a laptop fan until the PowerBook G4 came out. I immediately wanted one, yet I had spent all my cash reserves on a dual processor PowerMac G4. I had always considered myself a power user, whether I was productive or not. So it came to my surprise when I wanted the 2001 model of the iBook. What beauty! What elegance! Even when I didn't have any ideas I would want to sit in front of it and at least pretend to be productive. Found a company, make some graphics, tell a story.

I get that same feeling from my G4. It has tons of resources and power that I let go to waste because of my lack of ideas or spirit of procrastination. I want to learn to program, learn Flash, or run a Web server. I want to put the machine to use. I'm doing it a grave injustice by letting it sit there and using it for nothing more than surfing the Net or playing Civilization II.

I won't renounce this practice, but maybe I can add more to it. Surf the Net, play a game, write an article. I could be productive. Maybe this little machine was the catalyst to set something off.

Yes, this is what computers should be. Beauty, elegance, power. They should be tools to allow the user to be their best, to want to work even when there is no work to be done, just to be able to use it. That's how this piece came to be.

Who knows what else I could do? Anyway, I'm getting sore from sitting here on the floor and typing into the keyboard on my lap. My left leg is falling asleep. I think I'm going to go use my computer. I'll surf the net, play a game, and maybe do something worthwhile, too.

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