My First Mac

The Little Mac that Could

Chris Lozaga - 2001.09.06

I feel compelled to share my Macintosh story. I went to a graphic arts seminar in 1990 and experimented with a $15,000 Mac II setup that included a huge 21-inch monitor. I went home thinking it was interesting - but far too expensive and terribly impractical. Somehow, I could not connect with those machines.

My next Macintosh experience was no better. In 1997 I took several courses in Video and Computer Audio at a major engineering university. We used very high-end 9500 and 8500 Power Macs. The lab technicians, however, were deficient, and the machines proved to be incredibly frustrating to use.

Because the professors chose video hardware and sound hardware that did not work together, we had to reboot with a different set of extensions to, say, edit an audio track. Imagine working on a video sequence, realizing you need to alter your audio component, and therefore having to reboot in the middle of your work. Compound this with the fact the Mac's superior SCSI hard drives seemed slower than the ATA drive on my cheap 200 MHz Pentium, and you can imagine how disenchanted I was with the Mac.

Later in 1997 I had an epiphany of sorts. I interned in a small office that used Macs for all of their business. When I started, they sat me down in front of a little beige box and a pile of wires and told me that it would be my computer if I could make it work. Well, I was indignant (inwardly, anyway). I was used to working on 200 MHz or faster PCs. What could I accomplish with this little beige box?

As it turned out, almost everything!

Within a half an hour. I had that little IIsi connected to the old coax 10 Mbps ethernet network in the office building. I downloaded one of the less memory-hungry versions of System 7 and installed it without a hitch. Internet Explorer 3.0 loaded without a problem, as did Eudora and Microsoft Word.

My 200 MHz PC could barely run Office 97 with 32 MB of RAM. I think the IIsi had less than 10 MB, yet it ran Word 5 like a pro. I had to reduce the colors to 16 to get decent scrolling in Internet Explorer, but I could hardly ask for more out of a 20 MHz processor.

I only had the IIsi at my desk for three months before I received another hand-me-down. This time it was a Power Mac 6100 with 8 MB of RAM. I actually preferred the IIsi, which seemed to use its memory more efficiently. When I left that office in 1999, I left with fond memories of the little IIsi.

Although I was fascinated by the usefulness of the IIsi, I did not buy a Macintosh for two years after leaving that little beige box behind. I purchased a new iBook (Dual USB) this spring. I am absolutely enamored with the machine, and it is serving me well.

Hopefully, it will last as long as the IIsi and serve me well for years to come.

Go to the My First Mac index.