Low End Mac Users Are Nuts

Dan Knight, most caring of all Mac-related website editors, thought it was time to allow us people from that little island across the big pond (that’s Great Britain, not Hawaii) who still use Apple computers in the face of ever dwindling numbers of Apple stores and ridiculous retail prices to make their voice heard on that pinnacle of the world wide web, Low End Mac.

Yes, things are not looking rosy for the Macintosh community here in the homeland of the deep-fried Mars bar, warm beer, and the infamous Spotted Dick. There are virtually no high street vendors left who sell Apple-related hardware or software. The nearest walk-in store which satisfies my desire to actually touch one of the new machines that Apple releases in ever shorter timespans is 100 miles down the road.

indigo clamshell iBook G3If ever I need software, add-ons, or just a printer cartridge, I use one of the mail-order companies, without which no Apple fan would survive any longer than four weeks. If you decide to actually buy one of these nice sweetie-coloured toys, the prices are utterly mind boggling: due to “Value added Tax” the indigo 366 MHz iBook sells for two hundred, the 466 MHz iBook for four hundred dollars more than the retail price in the US – if you have the chance to get one. Stocks are chronically low.

Adding to all this, brought to us courtesy of Apple UK and its highly entertaining management team, Simon Jary, editor of Macworld UK, decided to add insult to injury and declared in an editorial of the February issue of his glossy product that, “If your Mac doesn’t even have a PowerPC chip in it, you’re nuts.”

After five seconds of stunned silence the Mac community on both sides of the Atlantic, headed by the bible of all things pre Power PC, the Vintage Macs email list, exploded. Macworld UK was battered with numerous emails from bitter fans who felt that one of their deepest passions was rubbished. The choice of wording spanned from “that’s not very nice” and ” ….at least I don’t waste trees to dribble on with what I call ideas,” to remarks that would make my grandmother blush (and she doesn’t blush easily).

The next month Macworld printed a broad range of letters from upset readers who didn’t really see the point in a remark like this and made the MHz crazed editorial team aware of the wonderful things they used their well designed computer from the eighties for: mail server, IP router, web server, word processor, etc.

After such an outcry of his readers, Jary did the honourable thing and reacted to the communities concerns, saying that he didn’t mean to cause offence. The statement, “OK, so calling users of older Macs ‘nutters’ was a bit strong,” was not really an apology, but probably the closest you can get to one from an editor of a London-based magazine. Funnily enough, in this month’s issue his deputy editor David Fanning used his editorial to admit that until now he solely used a 7500 at home, but in the wake of OS X got himself a G4. Peer pressure? You can’t have your boss bashing old Macs and still be typing on that five-year-old beige baby, so his upgrade was probably pretty well timed.

Coming to an end of this attempt to give you a little insight into the tortured soul of a Mac user on British soil, I would to use the opportunity and quote again the editor of Macworld UK: To make it all up to us, Jary gives us a big embrace, welcoming us poor, nerdy, oddball vintage Mac-users back in the large happy community of Apple users: “It’s not about coloured plastics. It’s not about speed. It’s about what you can do now, and what you’ll be able to do in the future.”

I toast to that.

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