My First Mac

Rekindling a Lifelong Love of Computers

Simon King - 2001.08.23

At the tender age of five, my parents decided that it would be a good idea if they got me a computer. Lord knows where they got that idea from - probably from watching too much Tomorrow's World - but I'm rather glad that they did. Come my birthday, I was so excited I could barely unwrap my Amstrad CPC 464 with Colour Monitor. It was probably the most pivotal moment in my life.

Fast forward six years. I'd expanded the poor thing just about as much as I could. The expansion modules reached all the way back to the wall, and I was coveting a Commodore Amiga A500 Plus - definitely the computer of choice for the hop soon-to-be teenager that I was.

The 464 simply didn't cut it anymore. The four built-in printer fonts looked terrible (to me!) when I handed in my homework. The fact that I was the only kid handing in printed homework didn't matter to me - I needed more horsepower.

Horsepower came in the form of a no-name 286 PC. Having gone into my local computer shop and mentioned that I wanted to upgrade my computer, I was talked into buying a PC by the chain-smoking oracle who owned the place. I was delighted with my new machine - proud of the fact that I owned a "professional" computer as opposed to the "home" computers that my friends had. Ah, teenage peer pressure.

Over the years I spent an absolute fortune on upgrading the damn thing. I was never more than 20% behind the speed of the fastest processor available. I had plenty of RAM, a good raft of software, DVD, CD-RW, etc. I was happy in my PC experience.

Somewhere around 1999 the upgrading slowed down. I stopped spending quite as much time on the thing. As I rolled into 2000, the monthly magazine purchases stopped. I barely used the computer to do anything other than surf and email. I could have had a Bush Internet TV for all I cared.

For some bizarre reason, we got a free copy of a major UK Mac magazine in November. I flicked through it with halfhearted interest, looking at all of the nicely designed hardware inside. The next month, we got another copy. This time I found myself actually reading it properly and looking at the adverts.

In May, I went on holiday to Spain. Purely on impulse, I bought a copy of the magazine from the newsagents. And that was it. I realised I wanted shut off my PC. I wanted a Mac.

I didn't want to pay through the nose for a new OS that would bite me if I upgraded my machine too much. I was sick of this anonymous beige box that I'd been tweaking, like Frankenstein's monster, for 11 years. I'd left the damn thing running a week before I went away and fell asleep. I had the worst night's sleep ever, purely because of the noise it made.

So I immersed myself in the Mac world - reading Web sites and buying magazines, probably more than the average Mac owner. I found my chance to sell my PC, said a brief farewell, and wisked it on it's way.

I now had to find my Mac.

An iMac was limited by the screen size, and I really wanted a G4 processor, but the towers were very expensive compared to the iMac. Apple solved the problem for me by discontinuing the most cost effective G4, allowing the price to slip even further. I got my hands on one through work and was consequently able to use my staff discount. I saved up the extra cash, and picked one up for £800.

I've had it for a week now, and I can honestly say that this Mac has rekindled my love of computers. I spend most of the time I'm at home playing, exploring, and generally mucking about with this totally new OS. I've sent off my coupons for OS X, so I've got an even greater journey ahead of me. I've rearranged my desk so my Mac has pride of place, with my monitor on a shelf off to the left. My Apple Pro Keyboard, even without a wrist rest, seems far more comfortable to type upon that my supposedly "ergonomic" PC keyboard. Don't even get me started on how much I love the mousePower Mac G4 Cube.

And which Mac did the once-rabid PC upgrader end up with? That's right - the Cube. All I want to add is some RAM and a nice FireWire CD-RW, but I have no doubt that this quiet miracle of engineering will be looking a lot happier four years down the line than any PC would. It may even hold some of it's value, something unique with Macs.

In four years time, if I feel the need, I will probably get a very good price for a trade-in. But somehow, I think I'll still be using my Cube.

It took a totally new platform to rekindle a lifelong love of computing. But it has, and I'm smiling again.

Go to the My First Mac index.