My first Mac was a Performa

It's a wonder I ever stayed with Apple.

I say that because the first Mac I ever bought is now widely panned as one of the worst the company ever turned out: a Performa 6200CD. Don't blame me; At the time, I didn't know any better.

It was Thanksgiving 1995, and I remember asking my friend Tom whether I should buy a Mac or get a Windows machine. After all, Windows was what we used at the newspaper where I worked. He told me in no uncertain terms to get a Mac, and I followed some of the wisest advice I've ever been given.

Cruising along at a whopping 75MHz, with a spacious 1GB hard drive, 8MB of RAM and a 14.4k modem, the Performa offered me a whole new world. I quickly signed up for Apple's eWorld. I quickly left it, too. It wasn't long before I realized that eWorld and AOL and all the rest of it wasn't really the Internet. But I did learn. And a couple of years later I bought a PowerBook 3400, quickly and permanently falling in love with Apple's laptop line. Then came wireless. And I fell in love with that, too. Sure, I dabbed with Power Macs and iMacs along the way, and even bought a Sony Vaio to see how the other side lived. But my first love was really with the PowerBooks and MacBook Pros I've owned. (I'm typing this post on a late model Air, the one with the SSD. All my future Macs will have SSDs.)

I recount this history because I was struck while editing Michael DeAgonia's look at the 10 greatest Macs of the last 25 years by how clearly the pattern of innovation has been at Apple since 1984. Starting with that first Mac -- and no, I don't remember the commercial, or the computer craze it helped start -- all the way to last week's Macworld Expo, Apple has been at the cutting edge, rolling out not just the computer for the rest of us, but technology for the rest of us.

There were dead ends along the way -- how about that Cube? -- but whenever Apple reached them, it managed to shift course and keep going. That, ultimately, is the beauty of the Mac. It, and the Mac operating system du jour, always seemed to be somehow slightly ahead of where the rest of the world is at any given point.

And ultimately, isn't that the best place to be? Just a bit ahead of the curve?

I don't know where the Mac, and Apple, will go from here. Foresight isn't like hindsight. There's no 20/20 clarity looking ahead. But if past is indeed prologue, I look forward to the next quarter century.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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