Home Opinion Happy Birthday to the Macintosh

Happy Birthday to the Macintosh

by alexis
The original Macintosh 128K

36 years ago, while still in grade school, I finally convinced my folks to buy a personal computer. This was when the value of actually owning a computer was still debatable. “It’ll be good to know computers for my future,” I argued, knowing full well that really I just wanted to play games and maybe do some programming to try and make a game myself.

At the time I was asking for an Apple II, figuring that would be an affordable ask. Also, that’s where all the games I wanted to play were, and it was a relatively open platform for screwing around with the hardware. (A few years later, I’d figured out how to use the Apple II game port to control a set of relays with which to control a Radio Shack robot arm using a friend’s computer, so I thought this kind of screwing around would be fun…)

However, the first computer store we walked into had just switched over to selling the original 128K Macintosh, announced not too long before. As soon as I found that out, I was going to shepherd my folks out the door figuring there’s no way I was going to get one of those, but they suggested I try it out.

I did the obligatory putzing around with MacPaint and MacWrite, and was assuaged by the availability of Microsoft Basic to compensate for its lack of software (ah, youth). It must’ve been a good sales pitch because my folks asked “would this do what you need?” In a state of disbelief, I blurted out, “well, yeah!” and that was that.

I ended up with the 128K Mac, external floppy drive, and the original Imagewriter dot matrix printer. And a perpetual longing for upgrades that were always just a little too long in coming (I did get the 512K upgrade and an external 800K floppy drive, but I had to wait until college to get my next upgrade, the Mac SE30).

Little did I realize that transparent con job of mine would end up actually starting a career working on these damn machines, along with a stint selling them right after college, freelance postproduction work made possible by these very machines, and even a period working for Apple itself.

It’s been a love/hate relationship as Apple’s fortunes have waned and waxed, and their priorities have shifted first one way and then the other, but through it all, and despite having Windows and Linux machines on the side during various stretches when Mac hardware wasn’t up to the tasks I needed to perform, or compatible with the software I needed to use, the machines I use most often for my personal and professional work continue to be Macs.

I’m not a fanboy, I’ve honestly just been too lazy to want to pick up the entirely new set of troubleshooting skills that switching platforms would require when I’ve been able to keep my Macs going based on 36 years of screwing around with them. And yet, I find my inadvertent loyalty to a corporate brand for this much of my life somehow hilarious.

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