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July 19, 2008

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Yep. (My first computer was a Mac Plus, purchased maybe 8 months after that.)

I had previously worked on a mainframe, and then, horrifyingly, programming for a little computer with a one line screen that Bank of America was making available to its corporate clients, so that they could use BofA's proprietary accounting software and be locked into BofA for life.

The idea that I didn't have to do that stuff -- that I could drag folders around with a mouse, not to mention draw pictures -- was so amazingly wonderful.

Forget the hair, check out the double-breasted suit and bow tie. Hard to believe the guy's a style icon now. I mean, even Tucker Carlson never looked that square. ;)

"(My first computer was a Mac Plus, purchased maybe 8 months after that.)"

That late? ;-) The first Mac I played with was Ole K*vern's 128k Mac, and then later with other friends' fat Mac.

That was many years after playing with mainframes a bit, via friends, and having a bit of BASIC during my brief few months of college.

But I didn't have a computer of my own -- I'm not counting Heathkit stuff -- until I was able to afford a Mac SE in 1988, thanks to my Workman's Comp settlement for being partially disabled in my wrist.

But for early Apple stories, you want to go to my old friend Allen Baum and his dad. (More; Allen has the beard, and speaks second/fourth in this clip.)

Allen is on the right side of this picture, to my left in the picture.

But for early Apple stories, you want to go to my old friend Allen Baum and his dad. (More; Allen has the beard, and speaks second/fourth in this clip.)

Allen is on the right side of this picture, to my left in the picture.

" horrifyingly, programming for a little computer with a one line screen "

Rockwell AIM 65?

It was not the first time people had seen a computer with a GUI. High end unix based workstations had a GUI at that time (Sun Microsystems was founded to commercialize the workstation that was in use in Stanford CS dept.) and of course Xerox PARC originated the idea and had many such workstations deployed within PARC. Sheesh.

Also the Apple Lisa preceeded the Mac.

By 1984, I had pretty well concluded that computers could only become more ubiquitous over the trajectory of my life. Wanted to start building my knowledge base on dinking with computers, as I figured it would serve me down the road. When the Mac was released in 1984, I bit. A new original 128K Mac + an Apple dot matrix printer for just $2,900!
Best investment I ever made. Have been a self-employed CLE guy now for over 10 years in the beautiful Texas Hill Country with zero support staff. No way I could have done this without a computer.
As an aside, got my first hard drive (10 megs - wow!) in 1988 and it increased my ability to do work far more dramatically than any other upgrade over the years.

It was not the first time people had seen a computer with a GUI.

it was the first time the mainstream had seen one. Lisa was expensive, and basically a flop; and nobody outside of academia and heavy R&D had a Sun.

It's especially illuminating to reflect back on this, in light of Al Gore's Thursday speech: it's not insane to hope for developments of similar scope in the solar/electricity business.

It's especially illuminating to reflect back on this, in light of Al Gore's Thursday speech: it's not insane to hope for developments of similar scope in the solar/electricity business.

Agreed, Cleek. Perhaps because I worked on the Unix port to the 68K and on the IBM RT, and had whatever that AT&T Unix workstation was called in my office at Stanford I have a different perspective. But I think people should get the facts right.

People were, however, quite familiar with video games by that point (and most home computers could play them), which I think paved the way to introduce them to GUIs.

Also, around the same time as the Mac appeared, touch-tablet GUI drawing programs like KoalaPainter started appearing for the installed base of home computers like the Apple II and Atari 400/800. For many kids, that was probably their actual introduction to a graphical user interface--I know it was mine.

I remember that Cringely documentary. Fantastically written, and wildly entertaining even for a non-geek like myself. My computer illiterate father was riveted by it, and instantly made his first PBS donation in order to get the VHS set and catch the few minutes that he had missed.

I now see that there was a sequel of sorts about the history of the internet ("Nerds 2.0.1") Anyone catch it?

I seem to recall "Triumph of the Nerds" having a pretty heavy pro-Microsoft/anti-Apple slant. In particular, central criticism of Apple was that it got "greedy". Unlike Microsoft. Or something like that.

i got the cringely documentary from netflix - doubtful it's in many stores

i didn't see that - but note that he made this film during Jobs' "exile" period. in fact, that's what i'm going to talk about in my post. so jobs is a little bitter, but not all that much

the 96 documentary has a really eerie but cool ironic (dramatic irony) effect b/c steve jobs is pushed out at the time and it seems like his "keep it simple" hippie-esque message lost the day. of course, with iMac and iPod, etc., it's been vindicated many times over.

"Triumph of the Nerds" having a pretty heavy pro-Microsoft/anti-Apple slant.

I haven't seen it in quite a while, but I think the slant is against Apple as it was at the time (without Jobs) - a dying company.

I had an Atari computer first, since it ran a for-the-time-fantastic music program called 'Creator' (which became Logic many years later), but remember well the thrill of getting my first Mac, the Mac 2 ci - I think it was about $3900! And, like allmaya said about his, it was worth every penny. I got a laserwriter as well, which was, I think a couple grand. It worked flawlessly for about 10 years...

I never miss Cringley's weekly column. He's a brilliant geek who can write.

A LEGEND FOR OUR TIME!

A Story to tell your children........

Once upon a time, in the Valley of Silicon, the two-headed Wizard of Apples went for a walk. The two heads, both of which were named Steve, looked around, and spied a beautiful PARC.

"This is truly a beautiful PARC!" Steve exclaimed. "Yes, it is," agreed Steve. "It is very graphical. And do you see how happy the mice are?" For indeed, the joyful rodents scampered about, running in and out of windows, around icons, and leaping over the garbage cans.

"Do you think we could make a PARC as beautiful as this?" Steve asked.

"Nay," said Steve. "Not a PARC, but perhaps we can let this inspire us to build a woman. And we could call her... Gertrude."

And so they fashioned their woman, but instead of Gertrude, they called her Lisa. And she, too, was nice to mice. But alas, the User rejected Lisa, for it was said her price was too high.

"But this will never do," the User cried. "Do you understand me, Mack?"

And when his two heads heard that word, the Wizard of Apples smiled.

"Of course," the Steves exclaimed in unison, "we must make a Mac!"

It goes on.

Yes, one of the Robert X. Cringelys was not a fan of the Apple that was trying to copy IBM at the time of Triumph. Still, Jobs and Woz made Apple a marginal player because they failed to make the mistakes that IBM made. Had IBM taken PCs seriously, they would not have outsourced the BIOS or the OS or treated the whole thing as a joke until they came out, too late, with the PS/2 running OS/2.

Sure it was the best PC combo at the time, but it was so expensive that all but the most Blue shop decided that the plug compatible machines were good enough and that DOS was sufficient. Bill Gates owes about $25 billion in thanks to IBM executives.

There are some great stories about the development of the original Mac at folklore.org, most of them written by Andy Hertzfeld.

" Still, Jobs and Woz made Apple a marginal player because they failed to make the mistakes that IBM made."

Yeah, but Apple made a serious mistake when its hardware side won the battle to shoot Star Trek, the port of the Apple OS to Intel machines, in the head in the early 1990s. Just look how the Intel-compatible Macs are doing now in terms of stealing market share, and imagine what could have been.

It's a mistake that gets repeated a lot, Sock. Remember Beta? I had one. In that example, the (superior) technology did not survive.

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