About software and adventures on foot.

Me and the Mac at 40

The Mac is 40 years old. Like myself, it’s an elder millennial in age and spirit.

Time to reflect.

My first experience with the Mac was in the middle school computer lab: rows of beige plastic in various flavors of Macintosh LC and Color Classic.

In hindsight it was a pretty great lab, well-stocked for a small-town school far from any city and always a decade behind the times.

The Macs at the lab were utterly unlike the 386 at home. My first experiences of the real Web—color graphics, Netscape—were on a Mac. ClarisWorks my first encounter with a modern word processor. Lemmings and Carmen Sandiego! These machines were cheerful portals to a larger world, they invited creative experimentation and learning, they offered hopeful hints of the future.

But most importantly, these Macs had HyperCard.

The Spanish teacher delivered our weekly quizzes on HyperCard stacks. She wrote and distributed them herself! Soon I was building my own stories and games and little worlds in HyperCard. I knew I was playing with magic, but I didn’t know it was my first step to a life of building software and digital creation.

Other early Macintosh experiences: pouring hours into MacPaint while visiting a family friend with an old PowerBook, a tiny black plastic miracle with a soft grayscale TFT display. A relative's Bondi Blue. Staring at the lampshade iMac G4 in the college library basement.

About a decade later, I bought my first Mac in preparation for working with grad school’s Unix systems, an aluminum PowerBook G4. Mac OS X Tiger: what a perfect entry point to the modern Apple ecosystem.

Since then: a 2009 Intel iMac, a first-gen retina MacBook Pro, M1 iMac, and various work-furnished MacBooks Pro.

A lot has changed, but much has not changed.

Time to make something new again.