Saturday, January 24, 2009


Twenty-five years ago today, Apple Computer changed the face of personal computing -- and, for what it's worth, this writer's life -- forever. This was the day the "Macintosh" was unveiled to the public. I didn't get one back in 1984. It would have cost $2,495, and not much software was yet developed for it. But by the end of the decade, it gave the new concept of "desktop publishing" the user-friendliness of its graphical user interface. It was then that I had a pivotal role in implementing in-house electronic publishing services in my Government agency.

It's amazing what they take to the trash in some parts of Fairfax County, Virginia. Over the years, I've furnished apartments with stuff I could never afford to buy. Among them was an original 1984 Mac. Only the disk drives (internal and external) needed repair for a couple hundred dollars. Eventually, I got hold of an original ImageWriter printer. In time, I found an official modem (which was already unusable by the mid-90s), and even a scanner produced by a third-party developer. For the most part, I used it to write letters and play the occasional game (like that one where you have to protect the city from being inundated by missles) during the early- and mid-1990s.

Today, the computer and peripherals sit in a specially-designed carrying case, at my parents' home in Ohio. It includes a disk for a self-running slide show of various software supposedly available at the time. I have a watch with more computer memory than the 128 kilobytes of the original Macintosh, and it cost a lot less than $2,495. Maybe I'll have occasion to display this one-time wonder, however difficult to believe it is considered an "antique." (No, it is not for sale.)

It was fun while it lasted.

1 comment:

GOR said...

Ah, memories! I started in IS (which was then called DP – Data Processing) in the early 70s and my first intro to ‘computing’ was an IBM 3277 dumb terminal (called a CRT in those days). It weighed about 40 lbs and cost over $2,000. To connect to a mainframe it required another device – a 3272 controller - which wasn’t much smarter, but could ‘talk’ to the CPU via a phone line or hard-wired cable. The line speed was in the range of 1200 – 2400 bits per second, or if you were lucky, you could have ‘high-speed’ at 4800 bps (assuming the phone line stayed ‘up’…).

Then in the early 80s came the IBM PC, the XT and AT. As we were ‘True Blue’ in our company, MACs were frowned upon (those upstarts!). But some found their way into the company and became the darlings of the PR and Marketing people (and still are, I imagine…), causing headaches for those of us charged with integrating them.

However, not needing a boat anchor, I passed on keeping a souvenir of those days! We’ve come a long way…