Building Bridges

Where Was Apple on 9/11?

- 2011.09.09 - Tip Jar

September 11, 2001 - 10:25 a.m. I had been up late the night before working on a project involving old Macs.

9-11 united we standI was awoken to the sound of my father pounding on my front door in a panic, claiming that two airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and that America was under attack. I turned on the TV and watched in disbelief just as the second tower collapsed. At first I thought this can't be, it must be a movie. After a few seconds, I knew that this was no Hollywood fiction - this was real; America was under attack.

News anchors couldn't compose themselves, they had a look of terror in their eyes that that I had never seen. People in New York City were running for their lives. An extremely brave group of people sacrificed themselves to bring down Flight 93 before it could reach the hijackers' destination. People in Washington, DC were trying to figure out what was going on and who was doing this to us.

Later that day, it was discovered that America was at war with an enemy who had spent years planning this attack on innocent people, on people who were just trying to go to work and make a living to support their families.

It was very strange. Everywhere you looked, everything seemed to be running in slow motion. The look in people's eyes was of shock, horror and disbelief. How could this happen? How could anyone want to kill so many innocent people - and, for that matter, why?

The why turned out to be pretty simple. The terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda decided that they wanted to attack the US. They wanted to attack us because they simply don't like us: They don't like America, they don't like the freedom it represents, and they don't like the way we live our lives.

Apple on 9/11

The first iPod
The first iPod.

It has been ten years since those events took place. It is hard to imagine that when all of this happened, Apple was still more than a month away from introducing the first iPod.

Just what kind of technology was Apple producing at the time, and how does it compare to what exists today? The answers may surprise you.

Titanium PowerBook G4
Titanium PowerBook G4.

In 2001, the Titanium PowerBook G4 was the thinnest, lightest notebook around. It was 5.3 lb., had a 15.2" 1152 x 768 display, and optional 802.11b WiFi. The base model had a 400 MHz PowerPC G4 processor, 128 MB of RAM, a 10 GB 4200 RPM hard drive, and cost $2,600. Today the 11.6" MacBook Air is the thinnest, lightest notebook around. It weighs just 2.38 lb., has a 1600 MHz dual core Intel Core i5 Processor (which is about 10x - 12x faster than the G4), 2048 MB RAM, 64 GB Solid State Flash Hard Drive, 11.6" 1366 x 768 display, built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, it costs just $999.

In 2001, if you wanted to capture history and share it, you'd have to grab your clunky video camcorder, record the video on tape, and then send the rough cut of your video to the TV studio. Apple hadn't entered that market yet. Today, on the other hand, you'd only have to pick up your iPhone, press a button, and the footage would be on YouTube for the world to see in a matter of seconds.

In 2001, if you wanted to listen to music in your car, you'd probably had a few choice CDs or cassette tapes that you'd take along with you. Today you can take your entire library of music with you - just connect your iPod or iPhone to your car stereo, and you're set to rock and roll.


It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since all of this took place. It is even harder to believe just how much has changed in the last ten years. We have a tendency believe that ten years isn't that much time in the grand scheme of things, and that is true.

That said, it goes to show just how fast the world can be turned upside-down. If any of us were to be thrown back in time ten years, we might not even know how to function without our smartphone to remember our phone numbers and our GPS to help us find our way across town.

Technology has both good and bad aspects. It's good when it makes your life a little easier. It can become a bad thing when you become dependent on it - and a terrible thing when it's misused, as those jets were on 9/11.

What is the right mix? That is up to you to decide. LEM

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Chris Carson is a longtime Mac user and a more recent convert to iPhone and iPad.

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