This week, Apple celebrated the Macintosh’s 30th anniversary. Pundits, executives, and fanboys lined up to reminisce online, and the team behind the original Mac’s creation gathered for a birthday bash. Most major media outlets posted nostalgic retrospectives.
I’ll be honest; I don’t get it.
On the one hand, I recognize the Mac’s debut as a watershed moment in the history of personal computing. While Apple didn’t invent the windowed interface or the point-and-click GUI, it refined those concepts and neatly packaged them for mainstream consumers. The Mac helped launch the “PC era” and deserves its fair share of credit.
On the other hand, the Mac never meant much to me personally. Growing up, I certainly used Apple’s computers, but they weren’t Macs. They hailed from the venerable Apple II line. I wasted many recesses playing Oregon Trail on my classroom’s Apple IIe (monochrome-green squirrels, beware!). At home, we treasured our Apple IIgs. When Apple finally killed off the Apple II (in favor of the Mac), I fumed.
Since the Apple II’s ignoble end, I’ve barely touched Cupertino’s desktop OS. Neither my family nor my school could afford Macs. And during my college years, I didn’t own my own PC. Instead, I relied on student computer labs, each packed with Windows machines. When I finally bought my first computer in 2007, the decision wasn’t hard. I had finangled my way into an employee discount from Lenovo; my Soviet-looking ThinkPad cost literally half as much as the equivalent svelte Mac.
Today, I am an Apple user; we’ve owned several generations of iOS devices. But we’ve never made the leap to Mac OS, and at this point a switch seems unlikely. My employer runs Windows exclusively, and I know Microsoft’s desktop OS backwards and forwards. Meanwhile, mobile devices may eventually make the Mac irrelevant; tablets are quickly maturing into viable full-time computing platforms.
Looking back, my Mac-indifference comes down to bad timing. As a two-year-old, I was too young to appreciate the Mac’s 1984 debut. As a grad student, I was too poor to seriously consider a Mac. Now, I’m too invested in non-Mac platforms to justify a switch.
What about you? Does the Mac’s thirtieth anniversary bring back fond memories—or does it make you shrug?
I write most of my blog posts (including this one!) on an iPad. ↩