The 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer probably means little to most young people today. But to me, it was a pivotal moment in my working life—one that allowed me to ditch the office job forever and truly operate independently as a productive freelancer.
I bought the first 128K Macintosh right after seeing IBM pummeled in that famous Apple Super Bowl commercial in 1984. I was angry with computers in general at the time and that commercial hit the right spot. Before that day, I owned a Xerox 820. It was a truly awful machine.
The Xerox was an 8-bit clunker that cost me about $4,000 plus the freelance consultant it took to set it up to do anything of value. It used what was known as a CP/M operating system with an unintuitive word processor called Wordstar. It had big eight-inch disks to store data. The operating manuals (there were several) took up an entire bookshelf. It was definitely BIG IRON.
The Macintosh changed all that forever. First, the money-grubbing consultant was shown the door. I had all the software I needed and it was easy to use. The mouse was pure genius. I could write documents, work with numbers and even manipulate pictures with ease.
The Mac was small, light and simple to understand and that room full of arcane documents was replaced with a very basic manual written in language “for the rest of us.” Apple had hit a chord with me.
I once thanked Steve Jobs in person for the Mac. I told him it enabled me to do what I wanted to do. He responded that’s exactly what it was designed to do. Since 1984, I’ve been through dozens of Macs and never once has a Mac let me down. It has been one hell of a run.
When I first bought my Mac, I had a professional video edit suite in Los Angeles that was valued at more than $1 million. Today, with iMovie and Final Cut Pro, my Macintosh does far more than that edit facility ever did in 1984. You just can’t beat that.
This is why the 30th anniversary of the Mac matters to me. The Mac set me free and there are few other things you can compare to it in today’s world.