My First Mac

Macs Work With Me

Tom Gabriel

Tom Gabriel is has only been using Macs for three years, but he's completely hooked.

My first Mac, a Performa 6116 CD, became mine in early 1996. I'd come to the Macintosh fairly late compared to many, but it's been a trip without a legitimate return route, as far as I'm concerned, and some of it had to do with my early experience with "the other guys."

I'd begun around 1990 with the purchase of an IBM PC with the original 8088 processor running MS-DOS 3.30. All in all, very basic to say the least, but, running the programs of the time and properly set up, it was not a bad computer for such simple tasks as word processing, which was all I wanted it for.

Then one of the people at work (Microsoft/IBM partisans all) got me a copy of DOS 5.0, telling me how great it was, how it would make my computer run faster, how it could accept more powerful application programs, etc., etc.

I loaded it, followed all instructions, and found three of my old applications ruined beyond possible use, the computer running slower, and freezing (read: crashing) at odd times for no reason. I had another friend work on it after my own efforts proved fruitless, but it never regained its old reliability and (comparative) speed--nor could I get the old application programs back.

Years later and in a different situation, I wanted to feel out the possibilities of internet commerce, and the Performa came my way. I'd always had a secret yen to check out Macs, and in spite of friends' warnings that "the Mac was dead," I found one at Sears and immediately took it home and set it up. And what a revelation - I could get around in most programs by intuition, as soon as I'd tried the steps a couple of times and maybe consulted Pogue's "Macs for Dummies".

I began to notice a few things about the Mac that I'd never encountered in DOS or Windows machines - the software seemed to mimic the "this, then that" progression of the way the mind approaches unfamiliarity or problems, rather than challenge (or frustrate) it as Windows software so often does. This leads to a curious but genuine bonding between user and machine - you seem to think alike, you work together, and the two of you get the job done. Add to this the humorous, light touch to some of the prompts and graphics, and you have the charisma of the Mac. "I'm here to work with you," it seems to be saying, "and while we're at it, let's have a little fun and not take the glitches too seriously - we'll figure it all out." Over sentimental, perhaps, but not inaccurate.

This, plus the speed and reliability of the machine, have made me a Mac partisan forever. I now have a Power Mac 7200/120 at home, which some don't regard as such a great machine, but I've bumped up memory, L2 cache, and OS (8.1), and I've got a pretty fast machine even for the graphics work I do in Photoshop. It also does some pretty brisk net surfing. It is also just as friendly and cool to use as the old Performa (which I still have, still works like a champ, and will make someone a nice machine when I sell it).

At work, I have to use an IBM clone running Windows 95, which uses a processor that, by the numbers, is equal to my 7200/120. Except it isn't. It is sometimes agonizingly slow, and the Windows applications are perfectly OK when they work -- but they freeze too often, their error messages don't make sense, and worst . . . they're no fun at all!

When a computer company can build a fine product that is reliable and usable enough to make itself fun and friendly to the user, and can stand up against aggressively marketed competing product that I believe cannot begin to touch it -- even prospering with the most innovative line of new product the industry has seen in many years, to me it proves one thing:

Quality counts.

And it will always have a spot, however big or small, in the marketplace.

And I'm sticking with it!

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