My Mac Memories

Celebrating the 40th birthday of the Apple Macintosh

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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This Wednesday, January 24 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Apple’s Macintosh computer. The product launch was preceded by a memorable Orwellian commercial directed by Ridley Scott, which aired during Super Bowl XVIII.

Theatrics aside, I have always been a Mac fan. I wanted to get one for my freshman year at Northwestern University in 1988, but they were too expensive compared with PCs for me to justify the cost to my parents, who were already stretched thin paying for my tuition, room and board. So I did all of my college assignments on a Zenith Eazy-PC running MS-DOS, while coveting the graphic interface of the Macs in the school computer labs.

Four years later, most Macs were still out of my family’s price range, but I convinced them to split the cost of a Mac Classic II with me as a college graduation present. While I would have rather had a larger monitor with a color screen, I was still happy to get this compact little computer, which I brought with me out to California for grad school at UC Berkeley.

My first Macintosh, the Classic II. Photo by Danamania, CC BY-SA 2.5.

My graduate studies were cut short due to illness, but I remained in the San Francisco Bay Area and started full-time employment. My earnings enabled me to buy better Macs every three–five years or so. I upgraded to a Centris 650 as soon as I could afford it, and enjoyed color computing at home for the first time.

I also joined the Berkeley Macintosh Users Group (BMUG), which helped greatly in my career development. Through BMUG, I learned how to code in HTML with the BBEdit text editor (which I still use to this day), and put up my first personal home page in 1994. I created the first website for my then-employer at UC Berkeley that year, hosting it on a shareware MacHTTP web server I set up on a Mac at the office.

The author with their back to the camera, wearing a T-shirt with the BBEdit logo and the text “BBEdit — It Doesn’t Suck”.
BBEdit: It (still) doesn’t suck. (Self-portrait.)

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Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their. funcrunch.org, patreon.com/funcrunch