Greetings and thanks for stopping by. Recently I came across a photo of an old ad (ten years ago) for the iPhone 4S. This was the model that introduced the world to Siri. It was also the second iPhone that I ever owned – an upgrade from my first one, the iPhone 4. I still have both those phones, still in near immaculate condition. Seeing this ad brought back fond memories all the way back to the first time I ever used an Apple product. That product was the Mac Plus (and the Mac SE/30), back in July 1988. Looking back on being an Apple fanboy to present day, I consider the late 80’s into the early 2000s as the “golden era” of Apple. This (long) blog post describes my journey and fandom (as it has evolved), from then to now. This post evolved from a series of tweets I posted on my Twitter feed from 28 Sep 2021 through 2 Oct 2021, which can be read here.
I hope you enjoy the read.
It was June 13, 1988 , the first day of my first job as an engineer. My previous job, working in the materiel coordination department of a major airline, saw the office full of IBM PC-XT computers, not one Mac in sight, but this new job had two, a Mac Plus and a Mac SE/30. The Macintosh line of computers were launched in 1984 and I had new of them through various ads, but didn’t pay too much attention overall. What I did remember is them touting the ease of “right out of the box” use, and how friendly the experience is. The business analyst in our office, David, was an older gentleman, maybe pushing 60 or greater, but what struck me was his affinity and love of the Mac. He was the one that embodied all that Apple was advertising in a Mac user. As he continued to explain to me how the OS worked and I began to see how different the experience was from using a PC, I also began to see and feel exactly what Apple was advertising as well.It was weird to me at first, that they can connect to a user through a computing device, so warmly, friendly, and easily, but I was totally getting it
As I worked to be acclimated in my position, the work was standard and enjoyable (it was actually my dream job in the field I grew to love and still work in). While the programmatic and design engineering work were done on PCs, David did a lot of the business aspects aligned with his position description on the Mac platform. The small set of Macs in the office expanded from that Mac Plus with a 20MB external drive, a Mac SE/30, to a Mac iiCi, and a really nice Apple Laserwriter II printer to a brand new Mac IICi. Any chance I got, I asked David what he was working on (though I knew nothing of business administration and the like), just to work on the Macs, System 6, System 7, etc. Working on the Mac platform almost seem eerily magical and captivating. David introduced me to a lot of software made for the Mac that existed on Windows, and software solely made for the Mac, like the Mac version of WordPerfect, AEC Information Manager (a database program for the Mac), After Dark and After Dark II screen savers, and many others. It was during this time I discovered the magic of Hypercard, loading software via 3.5″ floppy discs, and so much more. Everything about Macintosh ecosystem had me hooked beyond hooked – it was a scary pleasure, one that I still can’t quite figure out how Apple instilled that in so many users. The friendly usability right out of the box, the print ads in tech/regular magazines, the commercials, everything, I remember the feelings VERY clearly, about how this tech company can lay grip on the psyche so easily with a product…whew.
Three years in 1991, after gleaning so much from David about the Mac ecosystem (during work and after hour office social functions), I scraped and saved enough to by my first Mac – The Mac Classic II, from a small Mac computer shop (whose name escapes me) on Georgia Avenue, in Silver Spring, MD. When I finally got it home that night, took it out of the box, connect the mouse and keyboard to the serial port, plugged it in, and turned it on, it was more than exciting. I felt everything I described at work but now this was far more special because that was MY Mac. I felt like Ralphie’s dad, from The Christmas Story, the night the Leg Lamp personally delivered to him!
The Mac Classic II was running System 7.0 and I learned the ins and outs of it. Eventually I got a 14.4K modem which allowed me an introduction to BBSs, as well as a Stylewriter printer. From that point, I was SET. Every thing about that Mac Classic II was gorgeous, aesthetically and user-wise. I don’t remember when it met it’s demise, but years later I was able to get a used Mac Classic to replace it. I did so because it was my first Mac, of which I still hold sentimental feelings for, and it was my first opportunity to use the Mac for music production. The Mac Classic is sitting in my studio, as I type this, running a freeware screen saver called Darkside – the same screensaver David told me about around the time of After Dark.
The next new Mac I bought was the Macintosh LC III (aka the “pizza box”). It’s slim design was one I came to love, especially because of how well it served the ergonomics of workspace, not to mention it being the first color Mac I ever owned (oh, I guess I DID mention that LOL). Once again, I had it for quite some time, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what ever happened to it. I don’t remember selling it so…. hmmm.
Let’s see, the next Mac I owned…hmm…at this point my memory is a bit fuzzy. At this point, music production with the Mac was well underway. I acquired a Power Mac 7100, that was shortly outfitted with an Audiomedia II digital NuBUS card which gave me digital and analog inputs and outputs, allowing me to directly record with Pro Tools 3.4 Free. It was a game changer at that time. It was running Mac OS 9, which also allowed me to run Opcode Vision’s sequencer and use the OMS ecosphere, but I actually used another sequencer called Master Tracks Pro 5.2. This was the brains of the rest of my set up, which included a Roland VS-880EX hardware digital multitrack recorder for audio (the Power Macs internal HD was so small it was prohibitive to record multiple audio tracks into it). I still have the 7100, which really came in handy last summer when I had to convert some old Pro Tools audio tracks from a recording session done in 1987, Mac OS 9 to the rescue.
After discovering I needed more HD space and a faster processor – along came my favorite desktop Mac to this day – the Power Mac G5 1.8 GHz Dual. I didn’t purchase this machine new but when I got it, it was in near immaculate condition, a beautiful looking, beautifully designed machine which allowed simple and easy access to its inner components via the door removal on it’s side. A heavy machine, just like its twin, The Mac Pro, it served me well for years of music production, including upgrading to Logic 8 and finally being able to record audio to its internal HD as well as an external 500 GB SATA drive. I was also, for the first time, able to run dual monitors, which made recording and mixing MUCH easier than doing both via one monitor. This machine is still have as well, though it seems to have the dread fan issue and I was having some issue maintaining video on a monitor. Research tells me the video card may not be seated properly and/or I may just have to replace it’s internal battery. I’ve been meaning to solve the issue and find someway to use it again, from a nostalgic standpoint. Every time I see a pristine looking one in the wild (as with the Mac Classic or Classic II), I’m like….”wow….”.
It was during this time I had found a great deal on 15″ Powerbook G4 Aluminum, from a graphics designer in uptown DC who was looking to upgrade. I had always wanted a Powerbook, but couldn’t afford one prior, at least a Powerbook with similar specs. This PB was sort of like the little brother to the G5 as they were both silver. The PB ended up being my daily runner BUT doubled nicely as my portable recording computer after loading it up with Logic 7.2 and some additional audio editing software. I took it with me when on business in Guam for a month and recorded the first tracks from my first release as a solo artist. Armed with a 25-key MIDI controller, it made a perfect combination for recording in my hotel room after work. Not only did I do music production on that PB, but also technical design and simulation work, so all around it was a great first PB to own. While on the subject of Powerboks, in the years to follow, I acquired the following: Powerbook 5300cs, Powerbook G3, and a Powerbook 165. The 5300cs ran Mac OS 8.6 and I mainly used that with my MessagePad Newton 2000, which was always a seamless connection. I was, with all the Newton software and apps I acquired, hoping to get the Newton wireless via two Orinoco wireless cards I ended up with at some point but that never transpired. The G3 Bronze was another good deal I just wanted to have in my collection. Using it was fun while I had it but it was eventually given to a friend who’s current computer crapped on on her – she and her daughter were Mac users for a short time, then back to the PC at some point…oh well, LOL. Out of all the PBs I owned, the G4 remains, needing repair as it won’t power on now. Maybe one day I’ll get around to it.
It wasn’t until the mid 2000s that I got another new Mac, a white 1.33 GHz iBook G4, entering the world of Mac OS X 🙂 I enjoyed the iBook as well, still being able to use my MessagePad with it, it was new daily runner, while the PB G4 was then my full time mobile music production Mac. the iBook was nice to use also but I think I ended up selling it – I really can’t remember at this point. What I do remember that replaced it was a 2007 Black MacBook, 2.16GHz…blazing compared to the iBook…LOL. Once again, a great deal from an owner who just upgraded to a MacBook Pro, so this suited me fine, as I always wanted to own that “black book”. Yep, still have it, new battery installed, running what I’ve seen said as the most stable versions of Mac OS X – Snow Leopard. It gets pretty warm when in use, so instead of trying to remedy that, it’s just tucked away now. I got some good daily use out of it – technical analysis work and everyday stuff too.
2007 – 14 years ago. Up until that time, I had also in my collection a silver door Power Mac G4, a Bondi Blue iMac G3, and an eMac – all for very short times. It was fun owning Macs that are referred to as vintage. That era of Apple was a great time. This fanboy, besides the aforementioned Macs, owned the iPhone 4 and 4s, Quicktime 100 and 200, PowerCD, original iPod, Newton MessagePads 100 (still have), 130, and 2100 (still have). Apple has done many great (and not so great) things since then, but there is no era like the “golden era”.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for hanging until the end, I appreciate it.