Happy 40, Mac!

A lot is being written today about the fortieth anniversary of the Mac, and I couldn’t let it go by without noting it here briefly as well.

I’d first seen a Mac back in 1985. A high school friend of mine’s father worked at Apple, and he had the original Mac 128k. It was cute, but its black-and-white screen and high price tag left me cold. About the same time, the Commodore Amiga debuted with its amazing graphics capabilities, aligning with my growing interest in motion graphics and animation, and I went that direction.

I got my next taste of the Mac in college, where I used one in journalism classes, writing and laying out documents. With the Amiga dying at that point, I bought my first Mac in 1993: the Quadra 840AV. As its name implies, also had unique abilities in audio-video processing. I was only able to afford it because of generous student discounts and financing options, but it kicked off a life-long love of the Mac.

Macintosh Quadra 840AV

That Quadra got me into the Mac just at the height of the 68000 processor family that powered the Mac since its beginning; it’s 40MHz 68040 was the fastest chip in that family that Apple shipped in a Mac. It also set me up to go through all of the Mac’s transitions: from 68000 to PowerPC, then to Intel, and now on to Apple Silicon. Not to mention that Quadra came with System 7 installed, so I got to ride the original Macintosh operating system all the way through Mac OS 9 and on to Mac OS X. The change to a UNIX-based operating system was great for me as a programmer, as it allowed me to use Macs for my work as well as pleasure.

I’ve had many, many Macs over the years. Rather than try and list them all, I’ll just point out a few of my favorites: the Power Mac G3 and the original Intel-based 15-inch MacBook Pro certainly qualify for that distinction. For a long time, I used a laptop as my only computer, and look back particularly fondly at the extremes of the PowerBook era, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 and the 17-inch PowerBook G4. But if pressed to pick my nostalgic favorite beyond my original Quadra, I’d have to say the Titanium PowerBook G4 takes the top honor. While not a unibody case itself, it was certainly the precursor to the MacBook lineup that’s defined the line ever since.

Today, I’m spoiled with a great combo. I’m writing this on my current personal machine, which is easily the most powerful Mac I’ve ever used: a Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra. And my work machine is a 14-inch MacBook Pro, so I’m definitely not hurting for good computing options.

I’ll end the post here, with a video that’s making the rounds today: the original introduction of the Macintosh. See you in ten years for the fiftieth!