The Macintosh on the other hand was a revolution. Yes, it took the best bits of many people’s other ideas, just as the Model T Ford and Spitfire did, but it was the first home consumer or small office computer with a graphical user interface or GUI and that had to be the way forward, unless you were a cretin. Your screen was a white representation of a virtual desk, office icons and wastepaper basket (or trashcan if you prefer) included. There were folders, windows, pull down menus, all of which could be operated and manipulated, not by keyboard commands but by this mystical magical mouse, a rolling pointing clicking device that completely altered the way you related to everything you did on your computer.
In 2003, my twelve-year-old self sat with my dad as he was buying his first digital camera. I distinctly remember glancing over and seeing the then-new iMac G4 — the “sunflower” model, with its crazy suspended display — and being mesmerized. This, I thought, this would be my first Mac.
It was not my first Mac.
In 2005, I was at the same camera store shopping for my first digital camera, and I had the chance to play with a Power Mac G5 hooked up to a 30” Cinema Display. This, I thought, I must have one of these displays on my desk.
It also was not my first Mac.
In 2006, Microsoft unleashed Windows Vista on the world. Our family PC was old enough that it was incapable of running Vista; we’d have to buy a new computer if we wanted to upgrade. Since my parents would be buying a new computer anyway, they decided to look into switching to a Mac. They reasoned that the frequent blue screens we were experiencing combined with the need for antivirus software and the annual defragment and reinstall of Windows was more maintenance than they should be putting into a computer. They ended up with a late 2006 17” iMac, and were extremely happy.
But while I used it, it was not my first Mac.
While I had a job and it was “my” money, my parents taught me about budgeting and expenditures: it was required that any of my purchase must leave at least an equal amount remaining in my account. Therefore, I had been madly saving up at least $4,000 to justify the cost of the $2,000 MacBook Pro that Apple was certainly going to update at WWDC. They did, and I bought one: a 15” mid-2007 model with a 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, a 120 GB (!) hard drive, and 2 GB of RAM.
I remember it being delivered, and opening the giant box to see what, then, was a svelte slice of aluminum sitting in its protective styrofoam. But my clearest memory was thinking of it as a tool, and as an investment in my future.
That was my first Macintosh.
It’s been upgraded since I bought it — the logic board was replaced under warranty, so it’s now a 2.4 GHz model, and I personally upgraded the hard drive to a 750 GB unit and upped the RAM to 4 GB. I used it every day until August 2012, and I continue to use it regularly as a server, and to power installations as necessary. It’s turning seven this year, but it’s part of a remarkable thirty-year lineage.
Apple has launched a nice little microsite to pay tribute to the Macintosh. There’s an interactive timeline (with no mention of the Power Mac G4 Cube), and a short video featuring interviews with notable users.
There’s also page for visitors to share what their first Mac was. It appears the stats are live, and so I wasn’t surprised to see four Mac models from the 1980s. But the Mac fifth most-cited by visitors as their first is a 2011 MacBook Pro. That’s not a late-90s iMac, nor an iBook G4, nor an early Intel Mac, nor anything else you might expect. Peculiar.