I got to work on an Apple Power CD the other day. The customer brought it in and I got to fool around with it. It was the first one I had ever worked on. The only option I had to service it was to completely replace it. The technical term is “Whole Unit Exchange.” That’s the techno-weenie way of replacing the old one with a refurbished one from Apple. Do you remember what they look like? I’d never seen a vertical CD player before or since. I got a note from Sergio in Toronto (‘sup, man?), who thought that it would be cool to talk about the way Macs have physically changed since the beginning of time. Boy, have they ever!
The Mac came on the scene in 1984. Compact, all-in-one and even cute. Simple, square but very cool(?). It made a statement, “We are different… we are better!” Then came Mac II’s, looking like DOS machines (Oh, no!). Still, they were Macs and carried the impeccable reputation as a superior computer, of course. Then it started getting fun. The IIsi had a unique design all its own and let’s not forget the introduction to portable Mac-ability, the Mac Portable. I used to have one. Man, was it heavy to tote around, but people looked at me and thought I must have been somebody important to carry around something so chic. Or they were wondering how I was able to walk in a straight line with that thing hanging off my shoulder. I still get Christmas cards from my chiropractor.
PowerBooks came out and these little babies were cute, I gotta tell ya. Apple tried something altogether different with the concept called the PowerBook Duo. Now this was cool! To have a laptop that weighed the equivalent of 13 paper clips and then be able to plug it into a “Dock” (I love these names) and have it become a fully functional desktop unit, this was great. Where’s the floppy drive?! What do you mean it doesn’t have one?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the all-in-one camp had developed a few things of their own. From the 512 to the Plus, then the SE and oh, yes, the SE/30 (can’t forget that… I still have one on my workbench) to the Classic, the Classic II and then BAM! COLOR, you’re kidding! Why that thing looks like a little pig. The Color Classic made a very small splash in the pond but the idea was good. Hey guys, it was simply too slow!!!!
The Quadra line was very popular. The numbering system was impressive. You know, like the PowerBook 180c (c is for color… oooh!) and the Quadra 800 (never could figure out why the 800 ran faster than the 900, but hey, who am I to question). I gotta throw this one in. The whole LC family has always reminded of pizza boxes.
Well, after all that we’ve seen in 13 years, I come to the conclusion that we have come a long way. I haven’t had the chance to see one of the 20th Anniversary Macs yet, but I’d like to. I figure that in a couple of years it will probably be closer to the norm than any of us are willing to admit. A few months ago I saw a cover of one of the ultra-popular Mac print mags. It had a prototype of a very funky-looking Mac made by a company whose logo had something to do with a frog. This thing had yellow speakers and all kinds of doodads hanging off the side. A real masterpiece. The part I liked was that everything fit into one nice, little package, like a compact Mac is supposed to do. It was wild but it was a beautiful thing. I wonder what Macs will be like in 10 years from now? I don’t dare imagine.
One last thing before I hang up. I’ve been intimidated by the A+ Certification Exam because I didn’t think that I would ever pass it. This certification is an industry-wide standard that tells the world that a person is really qualified to work on computers. There is a Core exam that covers Mac and Win/DOS and then an exam that specializes in either platform.
I passed! I’m happy!
Catcha L8r, Eddie
Ed Tobey (firstname.lastname@example.org)