I’ve been using an Apple computer for about 25 years. Macs and I go back a long, long way. This past weekend, I bought my 4th Mac. So allow me to wax nostalgic on my long marriage to this line of tasty fruit.
Though my family couldn’t afford one in the 80’s, I still got to use them at school. Actually, very few people had computers then. Back then, Apple was the preferred computer in education, and the computer rooms were lined with them.
It’s hard to imagine how we managed to publish the high school newspaper using these machines. The hard drive memory of the Mackintosh 128k could easily be filled with one of today’s tiny thumbnail photos. A stack of floppy discs wouldn’t even be able to store one Youtube clip. It makes me smile to look at this clunky, green screened creature.
The first Mac that I owned was a Performa. These desktops were produced during a dark period of Apple history, when Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple’s board. The design was kind of boring, though better than whatever was offered by other brands, and Microsoft was pretty good at copying Apple’s operating system.
The processor on the Performa hadn’t even hit a 100MHz. Now you can get a computer that hums past 3GHz, which as I understand it is about a bazillion times faster. I remember the debate, when purchasing the Performa, was whether to get it with 8 megabytes of RAM or splurge for the 16 megs. That’s just laughable now, eclipsed by machines with gigabytes of memory.
My second Mac was the elegant, muscular (at the time) Powerbook. I loved this laptop. It was serious and sturdy. I still have it and it still works except for the loose power casing, where the power cord plugs in. I’d have gotten the casing replaced except for the fact that by the time I finished my Masters with it, the laptop was hopelessly outdated with a hard drive memory of 2 gigs. That wouldn’t even be enough for a movie. Plus the repair costs were more than the worth of the whole thing.
The iBook was my third Mac. When it died in February, I wanted to replace the hard disc drive and get a few more years out of it. I had a grand time performing brain surgery on T’s old iBook before passing it on to a friend, and was gratified to keep one laptop out of the landfill. Even if it took me 4 hours dismantling it.
But the compatible hard disc drive was not available in Japan. I scoured all the big box electronics stores and wandered around Japanese web sites trying to find one.
So I waited all summer for the newest Apple operating system to be released to buy a new Mac. And it was worth the wait.
Like every Apple product, even the box it came in was beautiful. I noticed that all the Styrofoam of previous packages was eliminated in line with Apple’s attempts at reducing its environmental footprint. This is great to be sure, but it’s dwarfed by the impact of producing a computer, and later disposing of it.
I’m more than a little troubled by this. And I don’t know what to say about it. I’m too enmeshed in feeling like I need a laptop to function. So I’ve tried to use them until their last gasps. On the other hand, after my iBook broke down earlier this year, I found that after a short period of panicked withdrawal, I was enjoying being offline. Until concerned friends and family were worried that they hadn’t heard from me and other obligations forced me to use T’s MacBook.
It’s good to know that when civilization collapses, I’ll be okay. In the meantime, I’ll keep this Mac for as long as I can.