My First Mac

From Home Computers to a Real Computer

Bonaventura Di Bello

Bonaventura is Italian and has been using Macs since the late '80s.

I would never have imagined the giant step that in the early '80s took me from "home computers" to what then was a real "monster machine," a Mac SE.

I was a game writer for those fascinating "interactive fiction" games called "adventure games" in the early '80s. At twenty-something, in the full spring of home computing, small but nice little digital creatures, called Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, and MSX, I created games for people of all ages to enjoy the challenge with their own computers at home.

I wrote more than 70 of those games and earned a big bunch of money, for the time and the age I was in. Then the trend stopped, as it usually happens in computer trends, and I was left with no job at all.

Then the unexpected happened: the publisher for whom I wrote the games asked me if I was able to "make a whole magazine" for him. That was the early season of desktop publishing (DTP), a very confused and confusing one, indeed. I had heard of a computer called Macintosh, and watched a TV serial about it, but it was like a dream to me, such a beautiful thing.

I browsed all the magazines of the time, looking for articles about DTP and "making pages on a computer." Most of the articles pointed to those Macintoshes. All I had to do was to say Yes to the publisher, accept the challenge, and take him to a shop to buy "everything we need to accomplish the goal" (his words).

Needless to say, we bought the most powerful system we could get at that time: an SE (no SE/30, just SE) with 2 MB of RAM, a 20 MB hard disk, and an external Radius A4 "pure black and white" (yes, no grayscale) monitor. And a LaserWriter Plus, of course. And, thanks God, the DTP program I asked for was Quark XPress (1.0!!!) and not the awful PageMaker the reseller tried to sell us. I had one month to understand how all that stuff would do the DTP job the publisher asked for - guess what?

In less than one month I was able to layout a whole magazine, and it wasn't the only job I did (I also translated it and wrote some articles).

Just one final note about that adventure: the magazine was about video games, and it became two magazines, later. I had young people writing about and on all sort of computers, from the old 8-bit Commodore 64s to the new 16-bit Atari STs and Amigas.* I managed to connect all of those beasts in such a way that all the typed articles ended up on my powerful SE. Later on I bought a Mac II for myself, with a LaserWriter II NTX and an Apple 16 grays scanner (ugh!) and an Apple Two Page 21" grayscale monitor. I started working at home, and went on like that all the following years. I still am, doing DTP, Web layout, translations and multimedia.

* The Atari ST and Amiga lines both used the same Motorola 680x0 family of processors as the Macintosh. ed.

I've bought two Power Mac 6100/60s, and one still works, well souped-up. I also bought a beautiful iMac, the machine everybody in my family loves. Shame its price dropped down so dramatically only after 2 months I had bought it at full price! :(

I've been using also PCs during these years, and I still use them networked to the Macs. My dream is a portable Mac powerful enough to emulate a PC for the "basic tasks" I cannot do as comfortably as I do (or I'm used to do) on my Compaq Armada 1700. And not more expensive than this one, actually. Maybe the iBook will do, with Blue Label or Virtual PC and 128 MB of RAM. Or maybe Apple will just throw in a "software ROM" which you can choose at startup to fully emulate a PC using the powerful G3 hardware. Maybe.

I will wait, and maybe my next computer will be a "lollipop clam" (as the envious PC fans call it ;), so I can leave my iMac to the rest of the family, and stop fighting. Let's hope, and think positively different.

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