My First Mac

The Compelling Mac

Sean C. Cunningham - 2000.03.21

I've only recently become a Mac owner - after watching the platform's progress since 1984. Back then I was part of a Commodore family. I had interest in all computing platforms and would study their capabilities, but I remained a devoted Commodore 64 user until 1988, when I became an Amiga user.

The Amiga was a terrific hybrid between the Mac's usability and the power of Unix. Plus, if I really wanted to, I could run Mac apps on my Amiga with the added benefit of running them faster than on a "real" Macintosh. I never felt the need to do this but always envied the greater polish and sophistication of the Mac's interface relative to the Amiga's window manager.

In 1993 my Amiga died. It was a sad day. My trusty Amiga(s) had always been good to me, and I don't think that my career in visual effects would have taken off as quickly as it did had I not had access to the kind of 3D software that was available for the Amiga.

It wasn't until almost a year later that I bought my next computer, a DEC Alpha running Windows NT. That, I can say with great certainty, was a mistake. I spent $5,000 on a very fast machine running a flavor of Windows that had almost no support except for a few 3D and graphics applications. Because of my work, I rarely wanted to animate once I got home, so it became a rather expensive Web station. It didn't even do that well, because most of the plug-ins and apps that make the Web so neat didn't run under Alpha NT.

A few years later I bought a Pentium 233 laptop. This was an infinitely more useable machine than the Alpha NT desktop computer. I liked how easily I could find and run software on Windows 95. But, as with NT, the interface left a lot to be desired. Also, the layout and functionality of the operating system in general was exceptionally poor, compared with what I knew from home (Amiga) and work (SGI Irix). Windows is such a messy operating system that just becomes worse and worse the more you do with it and the more software you load onto it. I dare anyone to tell me differently. It also got slower and less snappy with each update, both Windows and NT (Win95 -> Win95 + Explorer 4 -> Win98 . . . NT 3.51 -> NT 3.51 + W95 shell -> NT4).

Then I saw the first iMac commercial. It was pretty amazing. Steve Jobs had really turned the company around. Apple was finally making compelling machines again. Apple hadn't made an interesting machine since the days of the Quadra 840AV. All those Centrises, Performas, and Power Macs just had no soul to them. Here was a Mac with a fresh personality injection. But still I waited.

Then came the Power Mac G3. Man, was that ever a beautiful design (as is the G4 update). I had to have one. Actually, I had to have two. I bought an iMac for my girlfriend in exchange for "permission" to buy a G3 for myself. After having used both Windows and Windows NT for the last five years, the Mac is such a pleasant experience.

I've finally become a Mac person. It feels pretty good.

Go to the My First Mac index.