My First Mac

Mac Dreams

Niran Sabanathan - 2000.11.20

After seventeen years of disdainful PC use, I was tired. I was tired of "The Blue Screen of Death" every three or four hours. I was tired of reformatting the hard drive every 6 months. I was tired of a computer system that made me work harder on it than with it.

I confessed my dissatisfaction to an old friend. We had had a mutual ribbing about our computer system choices ever since high school. I had taken the TRS-80 and then the IBM PC route, while he had chosen the Commodore and later the Macintosh. Without too much laughing, he told me I should get a Mac.

A Mac? I hadn't seriously considered a Mac for years. I remember seeing the first Macintosh in the back of a computer store. I sneaked a peek on the side as a group of adults crowded around a tiny beige machine with a square screen. There was a hushed sense of awe as one of the salesman moved a rectangular device and actually painted on the screen. The crowd was impressed, but the reverence deepened when the salesman with a flourish zoomed in on a segment and actually started adding and erasing one pixel at a time.

Dad had been searching for a new computer - this little cutie was it. I couldn't wait to go home and tell him. Two weeks later he bought an IBM PC - a real business machine. My Mac dreams faded. Oh, I would a look every four or five years when we bought a new machine, but there was always the issue of compatibility with work and the rest of the world.

I admit I liked the look of the Macs, but they were too expensive and too slow. I decided to stick to a real machines and that ever friendly DOS.

Windows 3.0 came out, and it was bundled with a mouse. A faint hope burned it my heart. Could this DOS machine dress itself up like a Mac ? After two months of use, I gave up and went back to DOS. But the rest of the world marched on. So here I was sitting with Windows 98 on a Pentium laptop eagerly downloading information on Apple's newest model, the iMac. I liked the colors, I liked the curves, and I liked the price. But there was a twinge of guilt as my AcerNote Light dutifully loaded another brightly colored iMac. The guilt lasted until the next crash.

Four months later, I had taken my new blueberry 333 MHz iMac out of the box and connected to the Internet in 15 minutes. I would not have taken so long, but I kept trying to put the phone line into the ethernet socket.

I loved it. The screen was a riot of colours, the computer was responsive, the keyboard was crisp (I used MacAlly; I did not even bother to try the original "space saving" iMac keyboard), and I could even change screen resolution on the fly without worrying. But where the heck were my start button menu and the explorer interface? There was some learning ahead.

Something was wrong with the CD player. It kept getting stuck. Well, no sense worrying too much about it, I thought, I'll just take it to the store tomorrow. Dad took the iMac to the store the next day. When I returned home, he mentioned that I really should read the manual; nothing was wrong with the CD. How was I supposed to know that you have to "put away" a CD before the door would open.

Okay, I had a lot of learning ahead of me.

It has been a year-and-a-half since that iMac entered my life. Is it the computer utopia I had hoped for? Not exactly. It still crashes, but at least I have a tolerable list of extensions I can fiddle around with, not a nest of inexplicable "dll" files.

Superficially, there is not a great deal of difference between the Mac OS and Windows - just a lot of pointing and clicking. But awkwardness and the bloat of Windows was gone, and in its place is a system that is esthetically pleasing and provides a smooth user experience, and, darn it, l actually like using this computer.

Go to the My First Mac index.

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