My gosh – the Mac turned 40 years old this week.
Let that sink in for a second. For some users it might be hard to imagine a time when the Mac/Apple didn’t exist. For others, it might be easy to recall a favorite song or trends of the time when the Macintosh showed up.
In either case, I think it’s fair to say the impact Apple and the Mac have had on our culture has been nothing short of colossal.
Now there are plenty of articles, reports, and special events to commemorate the Mac’s “40 and fabulous” b-day this week. Folks who are far more knowledgeable on the subject than I could ever be.
But Apple and the Mac have had a huge impact on my life.
This cultural touchstone has subliminally maintained a thread through my life from childhood to adulthood. And now I spend every day working (and thinking) on and through Apple products.
So I thought it would be fun to publicly reminisce about my journey with the Mac. How it’s purely coincidental introduction in my life has serendipitously reemerged as a key detail of my daily experience.
This is obviously an abbreviated and (slightly) self-indulgent personal account. But I know I’m not the only one who’s been so impacted by the Mac.
What was your Mac/Apple journey? I’d love to know! Please share your story in the comments below.
(Disclaimer: please forgive any/all historical inaccuracies! The general gist should be accurate. The specifics might not be. The haze of distant memories have long since been evicted for far more important details, like Smart Tempo and Logic Remote.)
Grade School, the Mac, and HyperCard
My earliest direct experience on a Mac was through a newly minted grade school computer lab.
This was a big deal for my suburban elementary school in Western New York. A classroom specifically dedicated to “computer classes” had just been installed. The class came loaded with 20 or so “state-of-the-art” Macintosh desktop computers.
This would put the timeline somewhere between the late 80s and early 90s. And I was stoked.
Not that I was all that familiar with Apple Computers or Macintosh. I think family on my dad’s side owned a Macintosh. But I didn’t get to enjoy any hands-on experience with their fun-looking machine.
While I don’t remember much of those grade school computer classes, I do remember 1 thing – HyperCard.
My Google search reveals to me that HyperCard was some sort of “virtual card stack.” Like a Rolodex or something. But I immediately saw an opportunity to create my own point-and-click games.
One Nintendo game in particular, Maniac Mansion, had a firm hold on my imagination. And with HyperCard it was possible to draw, add shapes, write text, and install invisible, but clickable, buttons.
These buttons made it possible to click on different areas of the screen. And when you clicked on a button, something happened! Like the screen might dissolve to reveal something entirely new.
So I put together my own primitive point-and-click game, Maniac Mansion-style. I designed individual “cards” that looked like rooms in a house. Tools and doors you could click on and interact with.
There was no real exit or way to beat my HyperCard game. In fact, I think my game only ever led the user to an untimely death. But still! I was able to craft a world out of thin air, all on the Mac.
Soon after my HyperCard game was one of several student projects featured at a parent-teacher conference. I have to assume some parents were mystified and/or concerned.
Mac and the (Garage)Band
The Mac didn’t re-emerge in my life for quite some time.
After grade school every computer lab and library only ever seemed to be populated with PCs. Eventually my parents gave into the computer revolution by purchasing a Gateway PC that ran Windows.
Honestly, I never reflected much on the swift shift to PC. I was way too stoked about America Online, chat rooms, Instant Messaging, PlayStation, and all the other technological relics that clearly date me to some prehistoric era.
Anyways – in sixth grade I became obsessed with music. Punk rock was my way of life. It started with Green Day’s “Insomniac.” The years ahead led me through the catalogs of Hell Cat Records, Epitaph, Jade Tree, Level Plane, Equal Vision, and many, many more.
From high school into my mid-twenties, I was entirely focused on playing in bands. I worked and saved specifically for recording and touring.
Each band would pool our pennies together to head into the studio and record a handful of songs. We’d release them on CDs (huh?). Then go on these 3-week jaunts through basements and dive bars. They just about always operated at a financial loss. But we loved it!
The turning point arrived when I caught wind of a local musician who was getting into recording. All my recording experiences up until then were conducted in dedicated (and costly) studio spaces. However, Jordan was offering to come to our rehearsal space to record us “on location.”
Jordan arrived at our rehearsal space with the essentials:
- an iMac
- A PreSonus FireStudio interface
- a plastic tub full of microphones and cables
This blew my mind.
With this pared-down setup, Jordan recorded and mixed my band in our crappy rehearsal space using Logic Pro 8. And it sounded awesome!
Jordan taught me that all one needed was a Mac and Logic Pro to make a record. Soon after I bought a used white clamshell MacBook for $500 off Craigslist. And as if bound by fate, Jordan hooked me up with his copy of Logic Pro 8.
Then and Now
A lot has happened since the white clamshell. I began my own project “on location” recording and mixing operation. I interned and worked in studios. Of course the studios were fully invested in Pro Tools. But I’d covertly skirt around the “industry standard” by carrying around and recording on my MacBook with Logic Pro.
The Mac has been a constant for me since 2008. The white clamshell turned into a 2012 MacBook Pro. Which then turned into a 2015 iMac. Which has since morphed into an M1 Mac mini.
All the while the Mac has enabled me to see my passions through. My love of music. My love of art and tech. My love of audio production. Hell – my love of Logic Pro!
The Mac, quite literally, continues to make my dreams come true. And without the Mac, there would certainly would be no Why Logic Pro Rules.
Happy birthday Mac! 40 couldn’t look better 🙂