Going Back to the Classic Mac OS for Productivity

Complaints about modern software being bloated and overpowered are a penny a dozen, but there is some truth in the idea.

There have been many Macs in my life – usually more than one at a time, though I have to confess I do tend to work almost exclusively on a single machine. These days I do most of my writing on a Dell Mini 10v running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (see Why I Didn’t Wait for Apple’s Tablet for more on that choice). My other main machine, a MacBook Pro, has been drafted into service as an ad hoc entertainment center used for music, movies, and Internet television.

This leaves me with a dilemma, because there are some tasks the Dell simply isn’t up to.

The main problem is screen size. The 10.1″ screen makes the little netbook a joy to use, especially when I’m on the move, but it’s less than fun trying to perform page layout or web design on the machine.

The web design I can simply take care of on the MacBook Pro, reluctantly calling it back into use as an actual computer, but this solution simply won’t work for desktop publishing. Of course, I could simply buy Quark XPress or InDesign for the MacBook Pro, but I dislike the recent editions of the software. Back in my days in the newsroom, I used Quark 3.1, and it was superfast. Recent versions are far too slow for my liking, and the new features, essential for some users, are useless to me.

As software gets updated, it becomes ever more complex. This has positive and negative effects. The fact is that new software means new capabilities and new features, many of which are worth the upgrade. The downsides, however, are also very real: sloth and an expensive hardware upgrade cycle.

It is effectively impossible to keep using an old computer for every task these days – the rapid development of the Internet has seen to that. On the other hand, if a machine is to perform tasks entirely unrelated to the Internet, why bother upgrading at all?

In fact, I’m very seriously considering downgrading – at least partially.

This is, of course, heresy in the world of personal computing where upgrade cycles and planned obsolescence rule the day, but in other areas of computing, such as mainframes for instance, ancient machines happily clank away for decades. So here is my proposition: I will continue to use my MacBook Pro and Dell Mini 10v. I shall, undoubtedly, buy a new Mac at some point, likely another MacBook Pro.

My next purchase, though, is a different matter.

Power Mac 7600I am seriously considering either an early Power Macintosh, such as a 4400 or 7600 model – it doesn’t have to be anything fancy – running Mac OS 8 (7.6 is actually faster, but version 8 has some features I want) and a nice big spacious screen.

Of course, I’ll need a serial-to-USB adapter and some other bits and pieces in order to keep it up to date, at least in terms of transferring data, but that’s not a huge problem.

Could my DTP needs be fulfilled with an ancient Mac running Quark 3.1, Photoshop 4, and Acrobat Distiller?

Yes. And I think I might just do that.

Keywords: #classicmacos #quarkxpress

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