Macworld and I’m not there!

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It’s Macworld right now in San Francisco, a city I love. However, when I think of SF, it’s not the fog or tramcars that spring to mind, but raccoons… see, there was an encounter one night in a suburban backyard round a trash can … but I digress. Another scary story for another time.

So I can’t be there, but in the spirit of the jamboree, I’m focussing posts this week on my favourite consumer product and work companion for the past 23+ years. My very first computer was the ‘fat Mac’ c 1984, and it’s been a pretty good relationship ever since.

Back then, I was introduced to one of the Mac’s underlying design principles … if people want something they point and click their fingers … via the mouse. It was also playful, and with the cuteness of the chubby little Mac itself, invited engagement. I felt real excitement on the day the computer sales assistant showed me MacPaint’s graphics and MacWrite’s WYSIWYG capabilities. And it had a name … just ‘Mac’ not an XD-33R or whatever computers were usually called. Instant relationship. It all comes back in this presentation to Apple’s shareholders by its co-creator, a then bow-tied and fully hirsute Steve Jobs. Astonishment, excitement, and total delight at the newness and the potential of what came out of the tiny box.

When I took it home, my small children thought I’d bought a new tv. And then a month or so later, my six year old digital-native son was rattling around the Mac keyboard like a old pro.

What I loved about my first Mac was its mastery of utility and aesthetics. What overarches these two design principles is the philisophy of simplicity; with utility, this equates to ease of use, and with aesthetics, it’s minimalism. Put them together and what results is a thing of beauty, and as we all know …

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness …

John Keats Endymion, 1818

I’ve still got that first Mac and the bag it came in. Never could give it away, and I can’t toss it now can I?

 


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