On April 1, Apple turned 40 years old.
A lot of tech sites, bloggers, and so forth have been writing about their experience over the years with Apple’s hardware and software. In the same vein, here’s my major experiences with Apple.
My first Apple experience was also my first computer experience. As a kid, our school had Apple II-series computers. Said computers were wheeled into our class a few times a week, and we’d mostly use them for educational games (math problem-eating “alligators,” etc.).
Macs at college/the Performa 636
In college, I got to use Macs for the first time. My university had the Mac II series of machines (Mac II, Mac IIvx, and Mac IIci models), as well as the earliest Power Macs. While I also used Windows PCs, I found the Macs were much easier to use, and System 7 was less annoying than Windows 3.1 (and later 95).
I soon got my very first computer, a Performa 636. It saw me through the rest of college and my first few years after graduation.
Power Mac 7500
Around 2000 I bought on eBay a used Power Mac 7500, which was more affordable than the then-new-but-more-stylish iMac line. The Power Mac 7500 saw me through the early and mid-2000s, with more horsepower than the old 636.
I briefly had a Powerbook 540c, also bought used off of eBay, as my first laptop. I wanted something cheap to do writing with, as well as something portable. However, it wasn’t that useful, and I ended up selling it for some needed funds.
The iPod Nano wasn’t my first MP3 player (that’d be the one or two Sandisk Sansa models), but it was the nicest one out of all of them. While it wasn’t the most Linux-friendly, it did serve me for several years. It’s currently sitting in a box in storage somewhere, having been replaced by my smartphone.
The Mac Mini was the first Mac I’d owned in some years, after spending most of the 2000s and 2010s with Linux-based machines. The Mini was an enjoyable desktop, but I finally sold it last year after the hard drive died. Currently, I don’t have any Apple tech in use at home; my computers are an older HP laptop running Xubuntu and a Toshiba Chromebook.
For the most part, I’ve enjoyed my use of Apple products over the years, even if some of my opinions have changed (initially, I wasn’t sold on OS X or its Dock). Even if not every piece of tech I’ve used has been polished (see: some Linux distributions), I do value user-friendliness, which is what attracted me to Apple’s Mac OS in the first place. Yes, open standards, power, etc. matter, but so does usability and style. I’m not sure how sleek modern devices would be without Apple’s influence.
While others piled on Apple during its lowest period in the 90s, I still had confidence in the company’s products, even if I knew they needed improvements. Fortunately, Apple made a massive rebound once Steve Jobs came back.
I admit I was somewhat skeptical about the introductions of the iPhone and iPad (mostly over how useful they’d really be as devices, as well as the price tag), but now enjoy the convenience of my (Android-based) smartphone and tablet. Outside of my computer, I’d say my smartphone’s been the most useful tech purchase I’ve ever made. Contrary to initially thinking the iPhone would be useful mainly for heavy phone users, smartphones have largely become portable Internet devices, with phone calling becoming all but secondary.
Of course, I’ve had my criticisms of Apple over the years:
- Proprietary standards, as shown with trying to get my iPod working with Linux. While Apple still has some proprietary stuff today, like with Microsoft’s Windows it’s lessened thanks to the shift to web-based/online tools, as well as the rise of open software standards. That said, iTunes really needs either an overhaul and/or replaced with a web-based store/music player.
- The ever-popular observation that Apple’s electronics are too expensive. That part’s still true; face it, almost $1,400 for a 13″ MacBook Air + AppleCare + sales tax is expensive. However, Apple’s devices do help spur cheaper competing devices with similar features.
Overall, Apple’s gone from people fearing they’d go under in the 90s to being one of the top companies today. Hopefully, they’ll continue to have a long lifespan ahead of them.
I’ll close by linking this “Joy of Tech” comic strip where the now-40-year-old Apple ponders the “kids” today (i.e., Google, Facebook, etc.). Happy birthday, Apple!
Apple Store in Manhattan. Photo by Anthony Dean.