(or How To Sell Your Soul To Apple)
Should I start at the dawn of time? OK, then how about the dawn of time as I know it, the day I got my first computer?
Apple Stock: $72
I had asked my brother to get me a used Mac somewhere around April of 1991. As my brother is notoriously slow and NEVER updates me on the progress of anything he does for me, I had written off my request as forgotten. After several phone calls weeks apart, he suddenly showed up in Little Rock unannounced from Austin with a Mac Plus en tow. Needless to say, I was shocked that he even remembered. He quickly showed me how to set it up and I was on my way. After all, I had been using my bosses' SE/30 for almost a year by this time doing the circulation database for a weekly newspaper in Little Rock using MS Works 2.0. Before that I used a Kaypro (remember the 5.24" floppies that REALLY flopped?)
I had a friend who used Macs for her own desktop publishing company in Little Rock. She helped me learn how to use PageMaker 4, which the folks at Spectrum, my employer, shamelessly pirated for me along with about 40 megs of other pirate software, most of which I still have to this day. Remember, 40 megs of software back then was a heckuva lot of programs!
(average time spent at the computer: 30 min a day).
Apple Stock: $60
After moving to Austin and working for my brother purchasing Macs for Third Wave Computing, I was thrilled to be able to use a color Mac II! It had a lavish 13" color screen, QuickMail and MacWrite II. We had the entire office AppleTalked with phone line running back and forth down the halls (imagine how slow that would be today!). The sales staff would take an order on the phone and immediately email it to me. I would then order the products so the order would be filled on time. OK, it was a LOT more complicated (and ulcer producing) than that, but I'll spare you the gory details).
(average time spent at the computer: 1 hour a day).
1992 - 1993
Apple Stock: $50
While getting ulcers and more nervous ticks, I spent most of '92 and 93 playing with the Plus and exploring it. I learned a lot about how to make black and white PageMaker documents on a 7" screen, how to use HyperCard, how to paint cute little SuperPaint Bob heads (Praise Bob!) and other frivolous stuff. But the big breakthrough was learning how to get on AOL. This was a whole new world to me. I could log on with a phone line and downloads hundreds - nay, THOUSANDS of cool Mac shareware. I tried ALL the nifty gadgets - Zipple, BeHierarchic, SoundMaster, HyperCard games, strange fonts, StarWars games, Asteroids, Klondike, you name it. Soon my AOL bill was well over $40 a month (a lot for me!).
(average time spent at the computer: 1.5 hours a day).
Apple Stock: $45
Because I spent most of this time moving to grungier apartments as the Austin rent skyrocketed, my only form of entertainment for weeks was my little black and white Mac Plus. By this time I had installed an old Radius 68030 upgrade card that turned my 'lil ole Plus into a screaming SE/30! Oh yeah, the web exploded in the fall of '94... I just HAD to get a color Mac to check it out.
(average time spent at the computer: 2 -3 hours a day).
Apple Stock: $40
PRAISE BOB! I now had my first color Mac - a IIsi. It had only 5 megs of ram and an 80 meg drive, but with RamDoubler, I could actually run Photoshop! OK, it took about 5 minutes to erase a 3 cm patch of paint, but what the heck! It was color! I even took it to Pharmaco for a 2 weekend health study in which I endured 88 blood draws and raked in $1,000. During this time, I was trying out all sorts of shareware on their web: CuSeeMe, Ircle, FTP, Fetch, Anarchie, Gopher and WAIS. A new world was opening up for me (unfortunately, it was closing up on me on the social front!).
Apple Stock: $20
I got my first computer, a Mac Plus in 1990. My brother owned Third Wave Computing in Austin (he's now the president of PowerLogix where I work) and he was able to get one for me for $600. It had a 40 meg Conner external hard drive and an Apple 20 meg serial drive that ran off the external floppy port. It had system 6.07 on it and SuperPaint and HyperCard. I took it to work to do the database for circulation for Spectrum Weekly's 25,000 papers every week. It worked great. My friends there all used Macs and they gave me lots of software and advice. I used it to make umpteen posters for my various bands as well as a nifty handout done in PageMaker 4.0.
I purchased a hand held scanner and a modem in 1993 and got on AOL and downloaded a ton of cool things (some of which are included below).
I upgrade it to a Radius 16 MHz 030 in 1992, but the upgrade card kept coming lose and crashed my computer. I took it out before selling it to my roommate for web use. He didn't turn it on for two years because he was afraid of it, so I got it back and have been using it ever since as a test machine for the shareware I come across at the Goodwill and as a second Mac when I have 'Classic Mac' clients.
After lending my Mac Plus to my roommate who hardly ever used because he was 'afraid' of it, I got it back and began to tinker with my old buddy 'Schlooterhead (that was his name). I decided to try and see if I could get it on the web. What the heck, I thought, all I need to do is load system 7 on it and I can copy the same web files from my IIsi to the Plus and my old Zoom 2400 should work. It did. I decided also to try my hand at web page design. This was still a few months before WYSIWYG HTML programs like Claris HomePage and Adobe PageMill. I had a lot of trouble at first, I was used to simple point and click computing and this code thing was a bitch. So I wrote the copy of my classic Mac web site in the Spring of 1996 while awaiting an affordable WYSIWYG HTML editor for the IIsi. It came along in the summer of '96. By that time I had upgraded to the glorious Centris 660AV. I sold the IIsi with all the software I could put on the hard drive for $500 (no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse!!) and took all that money and sunk it into 16 megs of ram for the Centris 660AV (yes, I said SIXTEEN!) That gave me a whopping TWENTY MEGS!
A mere 18 months later I bought 128 megs of ram for my Power Mac for $130.
In late summer, I finally scraped together a few pennies and bought Claris Home Page 1.0 and my web page was online in about three hours. I started the web counter at 384 just so it wouldn't look embarrassing.
I also experimented with audio/video creation on the Centris by recording my bands' tunes in RealAudio format. and putting them on the web. It was difficult because the only way I could transfer the files was to cup the headphones around the PlainTalk mic and play the tapes through the headphones. I came out amazingly good considering how silly it looked. As you can see, 1996 was a breakthrough year as far as my Mac learning went.
(average time spent at the computer: 5 -6 hours a day, not including the 8 hours I was able to read Mac books every day at work thanks to a boring phone answering job with very few phone calls).
Apple Stock: $12
Now that I had a good handle on the software side of things, I decided to branch our into hardware. I bought several old Mac Plus carcasses and 512k parts for a total of $20 at a garage sale and strapped them to the back of my motorcycle in the dead of winter. On the way home, I realized that had it been ten years earlier, I would have about $10,000 of Mac parts strapped to the back of my motorcycle. I fixed them all up a few days later without using a soldering iron and was hooked on Mac repair. It was hard to find the torx T-15 wrench however. Tip: go to CompUSA and buy the $10 computer repair kit. If they still sell the same one, you can take the handle off the torx wrench that's included and it will fit nicely into the handle of many a compact Mac.
By the Spring of 1997, I was volunteering my time at Goodwill Computerworks, a new venture started by the local Goodwill folks. They sold refurbed Macs and PeeCee's but didn't have anybody who knew anything about Macs. I told them I was their man. They didn't know at the time that I had opened up a total of four different Mac models: The Plus, 512k, IIsi and Centris. It didn't really matter, because most Macs use the same parts, and I could fake my way through it pretty well. If a floppy drive didn't work, I'd just rip one out of another Mac and plot it in - viola! new Mac! Needless to say, the folks at Computerworks were quite happy to have me volunteer there, as I was pumping out about 5 times as many Macs in 5 hours as three techs were pumping out PeeCee's all week. We were only open on Satrudays at that time, so I came in on Friday mornings before work to knock out that Saturday's stash of Macs.
By this time, my girlfriend kept telling me I should get a job at Apple. I resisted, knowing that corporate jobs never really went well for me, and besides, I had never owned a PowerMac and had only used one briefly when I had my previous 'corporate' job at a local ad agency. After thinking about it for a while, I finally relented and got at job at Apple tech support in Austin. It was fun at first, but got old after a while. The bosses weren't exactly the most friendly people I had ever worked with, and besides, all my coworkers were dropping like flies during the let's-fire-everyone-and-see-how-much-money-we-have-leftover-days.
Apple Stock: $30
Needless to say, I quit three months later and have been working at Computerworks full time ever since. It worked out well, because I consult on the side and I'm making as much and sometimes even more than when I was at Apple. I also have a lot less stress and I get to come in and work outrageously late hours. I am my own boss and I get to play around with Linux, our web site, old software and I get to yak with lots of Mac addicts all day. In the summer, I FINALLY got my first PowerMac, nearly four years after they were first released: a Power Computing Mac Clone with a Powerlogix G3 card. The Mac came from my brother as did the G3 card that held the moniker of his new company: PowerLogix. Now I could finally use all that PPC software that my friends at Apple gave me: Goo, Bryce, Director, Photoshop 5, Quark 4, Infini-D, After Effects, Illustrator 8, etc... (Apple employees seem to have the best stash of Mac software... I wonder where they get it?)
In August, the iMac is finally released to much fanfare. I was excited, but wanted to wait and see if Apple's cheapest Mac would also be their worst. It wasn't. in fact, it's the Mac that saved Apple. I bought one in early
Apple Stock: $76
Now I could network my G3 to the iMac and get a total of 20 gigs of hard drive space! This was a far cry from the 'dark days' of 1997 when two of my hard drives crashed and I was forced to run everything but the operating system off of 37 Zip discs. Trust me, this is not fun. It reminded me of what 128 and 512k Mac users went through almost 13 years before. The G3 and iMac were so fast that I was able to try my hand at emulation. I ran Virtual PC with Windoze 95 quite easily. I learned a bit of Visual Basic 1.0 (c.1991) under Virtual PC but grew bored. I wanted to run Linux. So I installed Red Hat 5 under VPC. It worked flawlessly, but a bit slow. Next in line was NeXTStep. Easy.
OK, how about a challenge: Mac OS. Huh? Run Mac OS under Windows under Mac OS? Yup. vMac to the rescue. This lets you emulate the Mac Plus under Windows. But wait! What If I was to... (tehe..) run vMac under Virtual PC which was running Windows, which was running under Mac OS 8.5? That was easy, took about an hour to get it going. Ok then, how about Linux on a PeeCee? Been there done that (took a lot longer than loading Linux on my iMac under VPC though!) Ok, how 'bout Linux on a MAC??? It just so happens that Debian 2.1 was released on CD in the Spring of 1999. It took about 2 months to finally get it loaded on my SE/30. Then it was time to include the ole Mac Plus in all the fun and games. After all, he was feeling a lil left out with all the PowerMac G3/iMac stuff. So I set up ole Schlooterhead as a terminal connection to my SE/30 which was running Linux. I could totally control the SE/30 from the Plus by connecting them together with a null modem cable and running ZTerm on the Plus. Cool.
Aug 1999 Apple Stock - $80
Aquired a Centris 650 for free from one of my clients. Loaded a 1 gig drive and installed Debian Linux. Works great. Color screen with X Windows and all. Very nice. Now if I could just figure out how to get it online.
Feb 2000 Apple Stock - $120!!
Got a IIci that was upgraded to a Quadra 650. Someone had taken the ci motherboard out and replaced it with the 650 mb. This meant that they had to painstakingly chisel out much of the rear case to allow for the 650 ports. They did a great job - you'd never know that it didn't ship that way. I plan to give this one to a friend who is using it to create a web site for a non profit group.
April 2000 Apple Stock - $130!!
Got a Color Classic. This one looks like a Classic (same small 'footprint') but has a Sony Trinitron monitor inside. These are cool but really SLOOW. I put in as much ram as I could (10 megs!) and upped the VRAM so I get thousands of colors. I plan to put an ethernet card in and network it to my iMac, Power Computing Clone G3, Centris 660, SE/30, Plus, Quadra 650, Quadra 700, IIsi and IIci. I'm working on getting DSL and hooking them all up so they can all surf the web. This might not happen until afte DSL is passe' and the next new superfast net thingamabob comes along...
Update: July 2000
I set up the CC as a web server.
Update: September 2000
I popped in a Performa 550 motherboard (33 mhx 030) which sped up the old Color Classic considerably and allowed me to max out the ram at 36 megs. I also installed 7.6.1 and hooked it up to my new DSL connection (June 2001).
Got one of my all time fave Macs: a Quadra 700. VERY fast for an 040 (boots faster then my 100 mhz Pentium!). Runs at 25 mhz, 20 megs ram, fast 500 meg drive with Debian Linux and Mac OS 7.5.5 on it (my fave Mac OS). Ram doubler (tripler actually,) SpeedDoubler, RamCharger and Marathon make this a fun and spiffy little machine. Currently set up as a web server.
June 2000 Apple Stock - $96
Although it's not a Mac, it's verry cool - I got a Next computer. It's a NextStationTurbo (1993) which is monochrome and has a 68040 chip, 32 megs ram, 525 meg scsi drive and a 17 inch Next monitor. It's a blast to play with as OS X is 99% NextStep. Extremely easy to use. In fact, I'd say that it's the best OS ever made. Yes, it's THAT good. With all the hoopla over Linux, it looks like lots of Linux/Unix geeks as well as PeeCee geeks will jump on the Mac bandwagon just because OS X is the easiest Unix based OS ever made. Completely DESTROYS every Linux I've ever played with (that's about 10 different versions). Way to go Steve and Avie!
July 2000 Apple Stock - $57 (after split)
A friend gave me a Apple PowerBook 520c. Although it has a little screen problem (you have to jiggle it to get it to work) it's a very nice little machine. PPC upgradable too. 256 colors, 20 megs ram, 160 meg drive, capable of surfing the web (although slowly). I plan to use this one when I go on my annual blues fest pilgrimages so I can keep the web site up as well as check my email and play Marathon and Doom. Currently set up as a web server.
(average time spent at the computer: 10-16 hours a day including my day job).
Aquired a PowerMac 7500/100. I eventually installed SuSe Linux for PPC on this one. It was a relatively easy install. Worked great, even X Windows. When OS X 10.0 came out, I installed it along with a PowerLogix G3 card and upped the ram to 160 megs. Here's how. More info on running OS X on unsupported Macs here.
7300 - This PowerMac is not currently in use, although it will be refurbed and given to a friend.
7500 - This Mac has had a few upgrades - 512 megs of ram, a 500 mhz G3 card and an ATA card with (2) 30 gig drives attached. This Mac has become my recording station for my home studio.
PowerBook 180c - A friend gave me this one after her dad (a PeeCee user) had trouble getting on America Online - no wonder - it only had 8 mb of ram! I cleaned off the hard drive and reinstalled system 7.1 and sold it on eBay for $200.
May 2001 - February 2001
I have had about 30 Macs come thru my tiny apartment. Most were older models (Plus, SE, SE/30, IIci,IIsi, IIcx, etc) that were given away at my apartment complex and to friends and friends' friends. I gave 3 SE's to one family, each kid now has thier own Mac complete with dozens of games. Some of the PowerMacs (6100, 7100, 7200, 7300, 7500, 7600, 8100, etc) were refurbished and re-sold or parted out if they were not repairable. I gave a 7500 to my sister who uses it to run OS X as she has no backup capabilities (yet) for her 400 mhz iMac. She may not want to go to X permanently for a few more months and the 7500 gives her a chance to play with X.
Now what??? Well, I hope to learn how to speak to people in public without mentioning the words 'Mac' or 'computer'. That might take me a couple of years. If I don't succeed at THAT, I can just try stepping outside my apartment for a few minutes at a time. Of course I'll have to have a mouse in my hand to relax me. Then, if I can make it to my car, I might be able to drive to the local 7-11 and pick up a MacAddict magaizine. I mean candy bar. Wonder what they'd think about the mouse?
A million hits on my web site since 1996.
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