RetroMacCast

Where great old Macs live again!

I was introduced the world of personal computers through my sixth grade class. It was a Belle & Howell "Darth Vader" Apple II. I was 12 years old (or possibly just turning 12). It was love at first sight. Little did I realize then that my life would continually revolve around computers from that point on.

I actively pursued a computer for our home, much to my parents' chagrin. Our financial situation wasn't in such great shape at that time. In 1983, we got a TI-99/4A. I was initially disappointed, because this wasn't the computer at my school. In the end, it was probably the best thing to happen for me, though, because it gave me a more well-rounded retro experience.

In 1983-1984 timeframe, I was introduced to the Commodore 64. I would finally get one of my own a year later (used). This is a love that would last for many years (and still persists to this day). I'm a composer, and one of the things that first drew me in to computers was music. Music on the Apple II was absolutely horrible. Music on the TI-99/4A was good (3 voices and a noise maker). Music on the Commodore 64 was awesome! This led me to an interesting period of bigotism. I began to dislike the Apple II, largely because of its lackluster music abilities. I never liked the IBM PC. I was happy in my Commodore world.

In 1985, I would first meet Macintosh. Put simply, I hated it. It had a small screen. It was black and white, not color, like my Commodore 64. And it had this strange new interface device called a "mouse". It had no inherent programming language (I was very proficient in BASIC of all flavors during that era). And it didn't use our "tried and true" 5.25" floppy disks, but these strange, cartridge-like 3.5" disks. I ignored it, and went on my merry 8-bit way.

I ignored the computer scene for a while. I had other focuses for a brief period. When I finally turned my focuses back to the current computer scene, it was early 1990, and I had come to discover that all my friends had died. The only players to survive the PC wars of the '80s were IBM (and clones) and Apple. I hated both of them at that time. I was exposed to the Macintosh again during my freshman year at college. I believe they were Mac Pluses. I was using them for classes in programming. Here again, I used them begrudgingly. I was annoyed by the mouse. I was annoyed by the fact that I had to use another program (a compiler) to program the computer. And I was still annoyed by it being just black and white.

As luck would have it, a friend of mine, who was in college studying audio recording, invited me to join him for a session at the university's studio. Like any good studio at that time, they had Macs. As I recall, this one had an SE/30. I was quickly impressed by the MIDI sequencing software it was running (MasterTracks Pro, if I'm not mistaken). This won me over. It was a simple, really. It's not that Macintosh's music capabilities were ever that poor. In fact, they were quite advanced. They just took it in a direction I wasn't prepared to follow.

It would be another three years before I could finally get a Mac of my own: a Macintosh LC III. I loved it. It's still with me today. In fact, it houses one of my favorite obscure bits of retromania: an Apple IIe emulator card. In the later '90s, I actually got a job as a technician at a local Apple reseller. By that time, I was Mac through and through and actively building a collection of all things Apple and Mac.

My collection has dwindled due to space and time. I had to say goodbye to a lot of things that were heart-wrenching, including a collection of about 8 ImageWriter II's. I actually had a IIGS Woz edition that was stolen, if you can believe it. As upset as I was, I wished I could see the look on the thief's face when the pawnbroker told him, "I'll give you 50 cents for that." Idiots.

About 10 years ago, I got heavily involved in Linux. This foundation was to provide a wonderful transition when Mac OS X came out. Anxious to set up Internet servers of my own, I enlisted a Mac SE/30 (upgraded with 128 MB of RAM) to do the job. That server is still going strong today. Sadly, the GLIBC community (the libraries that provide the underlying structure of Linux) abandoned the Motorola 68K platform a few years ago, but I'm making a point to compile the latest operating system one can. An easier route that I've also considered is simply moving to NetBSD or OpenBSD, which are still providing modern support for the 68K.

I've installed Linux on my SE/30, a Quadra 840AV, 7500/8500s, and most recently, a fleet of beige G3s. Oh, and I actually got a clone in there, too (PowerComputer PowerTower Pro). I still love the hardware. But mostly, I'm maintaining a collection to provide a retro connection. This is why the Apple IIe emulator card in my LCIII is important. This is why I will likely always keep a beige G3 around.

Nowadays, I enjoy my MacBook Pro and my iPhone 3G. I look forward to the future products that Apple will provide us with. I still enjoy all things retro where computers are concerned, but a very large portion of that love, of course, points to Apple.

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