On the launch week of Apple’s newest creations, I couldn’t help but reminisce on my personal relationship with Apple over the years. In writing this I realized that breaking things down by year makes little sense. I used whatever computer I could afford or was given to use. They are what my memories are tied to. Here we go.
I have no idea what my high school had but the Geography and Science teacher had one apparently. I remember a few chosen kids that had access to “it”. They sounded like hippies or bleeding edge Jazz music fans. This was my first exposure to MacIntosh as a thing.
I was too focused on my family PC at that point. My parent’s had the foresight to get me into computers when I was six and ten years had gone by at that point. Lots had changed in a decade.
This was my college experience. Learning how to both live on my own and how to use the bezier pen tool at the same time. I wanted to be a professional Graphic Designer and it seemed that this was what the pros used. We had a computer lab full of them at Canadore College in North Bay, ON. It was great and I drank the Kool-Aid. Apple could do no wrong. Quark Express came with a hardware dongle and Adobe Illustrator 6 was fantastic, predictable and still relatively easy to use. Mac became Jazz to me in 1997.
A couple of years into working for a small graphic design company we got a few G3 towers. They had those huge plastic handles on all four corners and had a CD burner built-in. Up to that point we were still backing up our work archive to DAT tapes and 44mb Syquest discs to courier to prepress shops.
These Macs were pretty and powerful. OS9 was highly unstable though. We ran too many programs at once, our files were always too large for it and things like a bad font could corrupt the whole system and bring it down. It would shut off when it wanted to for some reason as well. If you were a professional designer in the early 2000’s, working on a Mac, you had a certain amount of shell shock at all times. You would save your work every two minutes and not doing that meant you would pay the price eventually.
I could finally afford to buy my own Mac, so I could do my freelance at home, and no longer on my work computer after hours. It cost me $4700 at the time, which was so much money. The screen was so very small but it was portable (sort of). Although you never wanted to carry it by the built-in handle for fear of it ripping off. It felt like they had made alot of them and quickly.
G5 Aluminum Tower
I had the opportunity in 2005 to start an art department for my second and final employer. I got to order what I wanted for the studio which was amazing. Tell them my wish list and it would be there when I started. It felt like I was a rockstar writing a rider for a gig at Madison Square Gardens.
It showed up and it was perfect. Packaged like nothing I had ever experienced. As far as I was concerned, Apple spent all of their time making that one computer just for me. It was beautiful and like all of the Macs I have worked on, it inspired me to create. Like some sort of sacrificial offering to it. Not to Steve though. He wasn’t so top of mind for me in 2005 for some reason.
It was huge. 17″ and always either freezing cold or untouchably hot. It was a slab of lifeless beauty until you pressed that power button and then you were back to the game of trying to impress it.
I left my last “job” in 07′ to start a marketing firm with a partner. This was the last time anyone handed me a pay check. Evenings spent sitting on my living room floor, Skyping with my business partner about a concept, on this polished and nearly always pristine device. I felt like I could rule the world with it.
I bought two of these last year for my agency. They are monolithic and comically large. When you sit in front of a 27″ iMac the horizon gets compromised. There becomes nothing but the computer in your perspective. I still occasionally will lose my mouse cursor on the screen, which is probably a sign of just getting old. And unlike the huge heavy CRT’s of the early 2000’s this computer is so thin that it might as well be magic.
I still own a first gen iPad that I keep beside my record player in my living room. It is full of all of the music I originally had on CD. That format was my jam for a long time and I recently donated 570 of these plastic gems to the Salvation Army. This was due to two factors; I no longer owned a working CD player, and the only shop in town that still took CD’s, didn’t want them. That iPad reminds me that change is inevitable and occasionally sad.
But the Air was my response to finding peace in the face of change. I employ great people who all happen to be in their mid 20s and they have a different relationship with the tangibility of things that have mattered alot to me. They don’t like to write by hand. And they don’t use file folders – paper ones I mean.
My company runs very smoothly using the latest cloud based project and file management tools. I like file folders. Going to Grand & Toy made me happy. I could touch file folders, and reorganize them, and still Post-It notes on them. I could spend an evening when I thought work was slow and lay all the active project folders out on my living room floor and find some solace.
I realized one day that I was the only person in the company that used these folders. I had built a paperless work culture for my staff and never joined it. I like my iPad. It doesn’t work perfectly, but I have never set my expectations that high with any technology. It lets me run my business and live my life, and still inspires me to create.
This was written on paper with a pen.