Unlike the first-generation iPhone in 2007, I wasn’t there for the introduction of the first-generation Macintosh in 1984. I was in the eighth grade at John Steinbeck Middle School in San Jose. According to the girls at school, I came from a “poor” family because my parents couldn’t afford cable TV to get MTV. We were too poor to own an Apple II. My parents gave me a Commodore VIC-20 for the Christmas the year before. When I informed my teacher that I got a computer, I got laughed out of the Apple II programming class in the seventh grade because he called the VIC-20 a toy (which it was).
A real computer, I learned, requires big bucks.
As my interests in computer programming and electronics developed in 1984, I read everything I could get my hands on. Byte Magazine was my primary source of information, where I first read about the Macintosh. The two most influential books I read that summer was a technical book on the Motorola 68000 processor that the Macintosh used, and “Hackers: Heroes of The Computer Revolution” by Steven Levy. I felt frustrated because I didn’t have a real computer to do anything with and the computer revolution was marching on without me. Never mind that I was only 15-years-old at the time.
I got a Commodore 64 for Christmas that year. Although a toy compared to the Apple II and Macintosh, this Commodore 64 was the first of three I would use for word processing, programming and video games over the next ten years. The Commodore 64 got me through the four bad years when I stayed home from high school and four good years at San Jose City College when I got my associate degree in general education.
The first Macintosh computer I used was a Macintosh Classic II at the SJCC library. English literature instructors demanded that all papers be turned in as either typewritten or laser-printed. The near letter quality (NLQ) setting on my dot matrix printer was barely tolerated. I would print out papers at home, re-type the papers into the Macintosh at the library, saved the file to a 3.5″ floppy, walked over to the checkout counter, insert the floppy into the Macintosh connected to the laser printer, and printed out the pages at ten cents a page.
As I worked in Silicon Valley, my experience with the Macintosh was touch-and-go in the Windows-centric corporate environment. Every time a co-worker taught me how to do something new on the Macintosh, I would get laid off from work two weeks later. Recruiters always teased me about Apple jobs but never submitted my resume because my work experience was—and still is—predominately Windows.
After I started earning the big bucks, I got a Mac mini in 2005 and a black MacBook in 2006. I later gave the mini to a friend who needed a Mac more than I needed an extra system. I’m still using the MacBook eight years later. Although suitable for word processing and web browsing, it’s no longer suitable for compiling programs in the background. I’ll be getting a replacement system later this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh.