Before I really knew anything about the Macintosh phenomenon, sometime around 8th or 9th grade, my parents bought a Commodore VIC-20 as my first computer (not counting my old Atari 2600). A Commodore 64 followed soon after which was later traded for a C-128 in exchange for me doing a few chores for my old elementary school. I’d previously been involved in the BBS community until after college. Once I moved into an apartment and actually owned a phone line, I began my internet addiction using the C-128 with a 2400 baud modem an a Linux shell account from Orlando Online. My first e-mail address was firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since that time, I progressed through the following Macintosh computers:
- Performa 577—This was the first Mac I personally owned, though I had, of course, used Macs during college.
- PowerBook 3400—This laptop was my workhorse for many years. So much so that when I realized it performed better than the IIci I was using at work, I all but donated it toward all my office work and I transported it back and forth from home to office every day. Probably not a smart decision, but I loved my first laptop.
- PowerBook G3 (Pismo model)—My recollection is that I didn’t use this machine super long. It was purchased used from a colleague and served well just a few years before I bought a brand new Titanium PowerBook G4.
- 1GHz 15″ Titanium PowerBook G4—I’m somewhat hazy on memories of this machine other than it was the first of the radical redesign of Mac laptops, and you can still see design cues in today’s machines that go back to this model. I used the daylights out of it till I could simply no longer stand not having an Intel-based Mac.
- 2.2GHz 15″ MacBook Pro—After serving as my primary computer several years, this machine became my wife’s computer in 2010 when we married. When she stopped using it in 2015, it was still running OS X 10.5 Leopard! Even though I’ve essentially retired it, I recently located my misplaced 10.6 Snow Leopard installer and updated which was required before I could update it to OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It’s now on 10.11 El Capitan which is the last version that will run on this old machine. As long as it will still run, I have a laptop I can use in the living room while my wife uses hers and I don’t have to go hide in the bedroom where my Mac Pro lives.
- Quad Core 2.66GHz Nehalem Mac Pro—This is my primary home computer (more about that after this bulleted list). Although, I really don’t spend much time on this machine any more, instead favoring my various iOS devices.
- 2.5GHz 13″ Retina MacBook Pro—I bought this 2012 machine from a friend to replace the badly aging 2007 MacBook Pro. For all intents and purposes, it’s my wife’s computer, but I’ve been known to briefly abscond with it a handful of times.
As mentioned above, my primary Macintosh at home is a Quad Core 2.66GHz Nehalem Mac Pro. Its 640GB system drive and 1TB data drive are cloned nightly to two 1TB drives, all housed in the Mac Pro’s four hard drive bays. My wife and I store our digital photo archives on a Drobo that is currently at 3TB of capacity (1.8TB available after protection) and can be increased in capacity as needed.
I’m still using the default 3GB of RAM. I’ve always wanted to upgrade the memory, but never put the money into it, and considering I don’t really actively use it all that much any more, I may not ever bother.
In addition to my primary computers listed above, I purchased a 450MHz G4 in October 2003 to use as a server. It held multiple hard drives for things like my iTunes library (accessed via networking), my personal photo albums, and general storage that could be accessed remotely. I permanently retired this machine July 2009 and moved all media, including my former photo album web server, to the Mac Pro. That photo album web site, however, is now also retired. Self hosting was fun, but no longer worth the hassle. All the albums underwent a lengthy process of relocation to my Flickr account and I then created photos.ALBj.net to act as a customized front end which is a bit friendlier to navigate.
These days, the Mac Pro at home is pretty much only used for intensive tasks including mass photo management, iTunes syncing, etc. It lives in the bedroom and I don’t like sitting in there to work when everyone else is out in the living room. I’m pretty well content to do most of my computing tasks on my iPad, and I’ve progressed through several models of those as well:
- Started with the original, Wi-Fi only, 16GB.
- Upgraded to a white, Wi-Fi only, 32GB 3rd generation model which was almost immediately lost :-(
- A benefit through my office soon replaced it with a black, Wi-Fi/LTE, 32GB model.
- Upgraded to a Space Gray iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi/LTE, 128GB which served well for several years and is still in great condition, now used by my younger stepdaughter.
- Currently using a 10.5-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi/LTE, 256GB. I keep buying the Space Gray color because it’s the only one with a black front bezel I want. I didn’t also get an Apple Pencil but I’m thinking about it.
Unlike the Macintosh computers, I still possess all these iPads except the lost one. My older stepdaughter bought herself a 5th-generation iPod Touch (which probably needs updating soon since it’s stuck on iOS 9). She prefers to use it instead of one of the even older iPads.
I’ve admittedly owned many more generations of iPhones than I ever expected, and these days, thanks to AT&T’s NEXT program, it seems I’ll be upgrading every year. Let’s begin:
- I started with the original, 1st-generation iPhone, though I seem to recall it was several weeks (maybe a couple months?) before I finally had seen other people’s devices enough that I decided I wanted one. Since they weren’t yet subsidized at the time, and rather expensive, I’m sure (but can’t recall for certain) I only bought the 4GB version.
- I remember getting in line for the iPhone 3G upgrade on the day of release. I’d seen videos on Mac review sites that received review models and it was obvious the data speed on these was vastly better than the original. Since this was the first model AT&T made available on a two-year contract subsidy, I kept it for two years and never bought a 3GS model. The iPhone 3G was also the model I eventually bought for my soon-to-be wife when it had become AT&T’s $99 subsidized model.
- The iPhone 4 was next in line when the two-year AT&T contact renewal was up.
- Normally I wouldn’t have been eligible to upgrade to the iPhone 4S when it came out, but my wife’s 3G was ailing. I offered to let her be the one with a newer phone since my iPhone 4 was still working well, and she was eligible for an upgrade. We discovered that upgrade eligibility can be transferred to another person on one family plan, and she decided that I should have the 4S and she would take my one-year-old iPhone 4, which she was very content to have. Bless her.
- Jump forward two years and both of us were eligible for upgrades. Having skipped the iPhone 5, partially out of not yet being ready to abandon my various accessories that used the old dock connector, I finally upgraded to the iPhone 5s when it was released. My wife opted for the less expensive iPhone 5c. At some point not long after the 5c’s warranty had ended, its battery had begun to swell and it died. Expecting to have to buy another one, Apple actually replaced it at no charge under its product safety policy. Just a few weeks later, this replacement model developed a major problem as well as the screen began going wonky and eventually it wouldn’t stay powered up. Apple replaced it once again with a unit that lasted another year.
- I skipped the iPhone 6/6 Plus models which was the last time I upgraded on a two-year contract cycle. I ordered an iPhone 6s the day it became available and am currently using this model. Since I’m now on AT&T’s NEXT program, I plan to upgrade to whatever model Apple releases next fall. The iPhone SE was also released at this time and is the model my wife is currently using. Last year, the enormous iPhone 6s Plus was not even a consideration for me because I don’t want a phone that huge, but I’ll be researching the enhanced features of the larger size on my next upgrade. I still don’t really like the idea of the size, but I’m intrigued at the conjecture I’m hearing about the improved camera. I may ultimately decide the larger size is too much of a trade-off for the camera improvements, but we’ll see.
- As I speculated, I swapped out for an iPhone 7 as part of AT&T’s NEXT program. I was extremely tempted to get the iPhone 7 Plus for the dual camera/telephoto feature, but I ultimately decided against it, having realized I simply don’t shoot that type of photo on my phone, and really not wanting the larger device. The hardware image stabilizer previously only in the Plus-size phone was included in the standard size this time, and that’s the feature I truly wanted. Yes, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is going to be initially annoying, but ultimately of no consequence. I virtually never need to pipe music from my phone to an audio system, preferring instead to use my old classic iPod which doesn’t get interrupted by notifications, or sometimes my iPad. Since I’m content with Apple’s EarBuds, I don’t care whether I plug them in with an analog jack or the Lightning jack. The Lightning to 3.5mm adapter is fine for the car—at least until I finally get a car with built-in Bluetooth. The new clickless home button was weird at first, but only briefly. I’ve actually grown to like it a lot.
- True to form, I again invoked AT&T NEXT’s upgrade plan and acquired an iPhone X. I didn’t spend very long wondering if I should instead get an iPhone 8. I was leaning toward the X very early on. As many have written in the blogosphere, before long, Face ID just becomes completely natural. I hardly even think about it. It simply works. I’ve grown accustomed to nearly all the revised gestures necessitated by the lack of a physical home button. The only one that will probably give me a lifetime of niggles is accessing Control Center from the upper right corner rather than the bottom. I use Control Center a lot and I am still, but rarely, guilty of forgetting it’s no longer accessed by swiping up from the bottom.
Workplace Macintosh History
At work, I have progressed through the following machines:
- IIci—Purchased by the youth department but installed in my office. I’d offered to do their newsletter for free provided I could use it for projects I wanted to do for the communication department.
- 300MHz G3—This machine was a joke. Not long after it was purchased, the ethernet failed. Since ethernet on this machine was built into the motherboard, the entire board had to be replaced, and it never worked right again after that. Repeated trips to Apple for repair proved worthless, and it eventually fell out of warranty. This machine is the reason I used my personal PowerBook 3400 at work for so long.
- Dual 800MHz G4—I actually don’t remember much about this machine. It finally allowed me to stop using my personal computer for work, and did its job well.
- Quad 2.5GHz G5—This machine was going to be repurposed into a dedicated video editing station for freelancers and intern workers to our office, but it began exhibiting problems, likely power controller related. We ended up donating it to a tinkerer who I believe replaced the power supply and got it working again. Hope it’s useful for whatever future tasks he puts it to, which probably isn’t much since it had the old PPC chip rather than Intel.
- 8-core 2.4GHz Intel Xeon Westmere—This beast has 6GB of RAM and four 1TB hard drives on a hardware RAID card. (Funny how even just one core of a 2.4GHz Intel is so much faster than one core of a 2.5GHz G5, just because of the difference in overall architecture.) Since this machine is still in working order, we were finally able to set up a freelancer video editing station. And thanks to our new office location, unlike the old building, we have a cubicle workstation where it now happily lives.
- Core i7 27″ Retina 5K iMac—This is my current machine, outfitted with a whopping 32GB of RAM and a 3TB Fusion Drive.