Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Mac!

I can't believe that it was 25 years ago to the day that the Macintosh first hit the streets - it seems like it was just yesterday. Gosh, I'm getting old! I haven't always been a PC guy. If you take a look through some of the old blog posts - you'll see that I was quite the Mac fanboy (and vehement "Windoze" hater) back then.

I remember my first encounter with a Mac... (insert Wayne's World flashback here)

Back in the heady days of 1985 I was working at a company that designed swimming pool heaters. At the time I was a mechanical engineer... ummm... ok, ok, so I was just a drafting puke... ANYWAY - my job was to sit a huge E-sized drafting table and create and update sheet metal drawings as needed.

My boss at the time was sort of anal-retental and was very, very proud of the fact that he had a "two year backlog" of change orders waiting to be processed. Let's just say he was WAY into "job security."

My friend (who got me the job) was a graphic designer (and an aspiring cartoonist) who somehow talked his boss into letting him have this new Macintosh "personal computer." He immediately started doing all of the wiring drawings using MacPaint (yes, on the original 512 Mac with a SINGLE floppy that you had to swap out with the "system" disk to save the data!).

He was able to save loads of time - because 95% of wiring drawings are identical. He could just "save as" and create about 5-10 TIMES more drawings in a single day. The productivity was amazing. He would then print it out on the dot matrix ImageWriter (braaaawat...braaaawt....braaaawt - sounds coming out of his office all day).

I was intrigued - and he taught me how to use the thing (although I'm more autistic than artistic) - and pretty soon we would take our lunch huddled around the glow of that tiny black and white screen with that really, really klunky keyboard (with the HUGE keys!) and we had a blast.

At the time, in my own department we used a "dumb terminal" to do all the change orders. This was the classic "green screen" AS400 setup. I was an expert at tab-tab-tab-F12-F8-tab-enter way of computing.

This went on for about 18 months.

When Apple came out with the first expandable model - the IIcx - of course my friend was able to get one along with the LaserWriter Pro - the original laser printer.

I had seen the future.

I did a proposal - written on my lunch breaks - using MacWrite and illustrated using the "new" hot vector drawing program MacDraw - and made a business case for why we should ditch the manual-drawing-erasing-blueprint-copying-filing method and just "go digital." Our parts were not rocket science - they were squares, rectantgles and minor variations with holes and vents in them - a PERFECT match for this new digital technology.

Changes were a snap, and (so I thought) - we could plow through all that backlog in less than 4 months - and the system would pay for itself in less than 12 months. I knew this would drive my boss crazy - so I "pulled a Bob" and just went over his head to his boss (the VP of Operations).

I scheduled a meeting, made my pitch... and... they didn't do it. In fact, my boss called me in an accused me of going after his job. I literally quit on the spot and walked out (the only time in my life that I've done that).

After that, I bought my own Mac (SE30 with DUAL floppies and a whopping 20 MEGAbyte hard drive! "I'll never run out of storage EVER!"). Then I eventually moved on to the IIcx, then the infamous "pizza box" Performa line, and so on and so on. I did everything on the Mac.

I had my first graphic design company and used Illustrator 1.0 to draw realistic, shaded technical illustrations, I used PageMaker to make catalogs and ads and manuals. I was one of the AppleScript addicts - and had macros that I used with QuicKeys to automate every single action (and interaction) that I ever needed. I became somewhat of an expert in all things Mac - and I became one of Apple's biggest evangelists - all the way up to System 9.

Then all my customers stopped using Macs and were all using PCs running Windows 3.1 - and their software just didn't work with mine. So, I grudgingly bought my first Dell... and as I used the Mac less and less I sort of "fell out of love" with it. I became less of a Mac bigot and although I didn't "love" my PC - at least I could get the same versions of software that my customers were using and continue doing business.

Of course we all know the "rest" of the story - the way Apple has come out with great hardware, updated their software to OS X, etc. etc. They are starting to make inroads back into corporate america with people hooked not on OSX, but on iTunes and the iPod and the iPhone.

Does this mean that I'll give up my Dell notebook and Windows XP? Actually.... maybe. I'll wait-and-see how Windoze 7 pans out, but I have a sneaky suspicion that my next notebook will not be running Windows - and may just include an all-white piece of fruit on the lid.


Edward said...

Try having to hack one ! Brings back memories !

Scott Butler said...

Once you go mac you never go back!

Scott Butler said...

Once you go mac you never go back!

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