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Computing with Bifocals - The Final Mac Stories, Including the 87 Year Old Mac User
by - July 20th, 2004

My columns of May 12th and May 28th were all about the stories submitted by readers who entered my recent contest.  I was looking for great inspirational stories from "Computing With Bifocals" readers about their first experiences with using Macs, and this column includes the final entries from my readers.  I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did.

This first entry is from Antikate.  I don't know her last name or where she is from, but do know she is 59.

My Mac was not my first computer...way back in about 1982 the Vic20 came out. I was in love. At our local mega-store it cost $369 - a lot of money! It hooked up to a TV. It had 5k of memory and only 3.5k of that was usable! It had a separate (more $) tape player so programs could be saved. On that box I did newsletters, I played games, I surfed (well, maybe that was a little later...)

Then the first Mac. It was early 1985. My husband borrowed one from work. Yes, in those days they were the latest and greatest thing for the office. He forgot the power cord and had to go back and get it. You see how the whole experience is etched on my brain. Each program was on a little hard "floppy" disk. But before you loaded a program you had to load the System (probably 1.0!). Mac Paint! MacWrite! Love again. We scoured the classifieds and found a "Fat Mac". This little beauty was only $1875 and it came with a pile of software, books, and some MacUser magazines. And it was so fast! It was like harnessing the wind! Many Macs (and 9 Systems) later, there are currently 3 in the house, and we are still hooked.

Bill Paris is from Santa Rosa, California and he is also 59 and an artist.

For years I was a designer/artist that always worked with a brush and/or airbrush to accomplish my assignments or endeavors, whether they be for personal or contract use. Once the Mac came along, I discovered a whole new world within which to create. A cyber/digital palette!! WOW!

It took a few years before I became really comfortable with it, but I have found that it can integrate quite well with the "real" mediums that I still work in and in the years to come it will always be around even if all my paints and tools become outlawed because "Big Brother" finds them hazardous to the environment.  I still find a little lack of intimacy from the digital to the painted medium but alas.....it has become accepted in modern age and an artist can always output his or her digital work to an inkjet or wide format printer if in fact they know that is what the end conclusion will be and adjust accordingly.

All in all, the Mac is a wonderful tool and the Mac softwares are fantastic mediums, when used correctly, for personal expressions and for some "non artists" to get a chance at feeling they are one. It has at least become a way for many people, old and young alike, to express themselves artistically even if they have not had any art training. There's something to be said for that.

Blaine Fergerstrom gets to live in Hawaii and use a Mac.  Some people have it all.

In 1984, I witnessed the original Macintosh commercial during the Super Bowl. When I saw that picture of the Mac 128 with the word "Hello" scrawled on the screen, it was a life-changing moment for me. As I typesetter and graphic artist, I immediately realized that the Mac was going to change how I worked. I realized immediately that the Mac would make my profession obsolete very soon, unless I adopted and adapted to this new tool.

I did adopt and adapt! I played with the first Mac I could get my hands on and was smitten with the new computing paradigm. I read everything I could get my hands on about the new computer. I still have the original 4-color Macintosh sales brochures that I picked up at a local computer dealer.

I produced my first professional typesetting/print job on a Mac 512 using Ready Set Go! output to a Compugraphic typesetter. Shortly afterward, I switched to Quark XPress 1.0 for producing Macintosh typesetting.  In 1994, public Internet access became available in Hawaii and on seeing the World Wide Web for the first time, realized that it was another career-changing paradigm shift. I immediately took my graphics expertise and turned it to Web site design and production. I currently work as Education Webmaster for a large K-12 private school in Honolulu. I manage several (Mac) Web servers and help hundreds of teachers produce digital media and web sites.

This entry is from Al Moser of Mesa, Arizona.
I started using the Mac (512KE) in 1985. I owned a real estate office and used it to create my ads during the week as I had  time. On Friday, when the newspaper sales agent came in, all my ads were ready, and I just had print them out. She always commented that my ads were always ready and in the best of order. I also did my accounting, sales and bank account, with the first electronic spread sheet, (can't remember the name of it) this was before Quicken.

I liked it so well that I upgraded it to the Mac Plus in 1986 when it came out (replaced every thing except the CRT & top of the 512). I also purchased a new Mac Plus for my home, and the first hard drive available at the time; it was called a Mac Bottom and the Mac set right on top of it.

Since then I've had a 475, 575, iMac SE (slot loading) and now have an iMac 17". The Mac's just keep getting better.

I'll be 65 my next birthday (Feb 1st. '05) and looking forward to many more Mac upgrades.

Jacob Reichbart has been in on the ground floor of some interesting projects in Canada.
Yesterday was my 51st birthday. I started using Macs in 1985... 128k ram and a floppy drive. At the time, I was building large graphics systems in the Canadian research establishment. These were the days of raised flooring and air conditioners that were bigger than the computers, and disk drive cabinets the size of a small fridge. The value proposition for a million dollar graphics seat was pretty compelling in those days. When I started buying workstations at $100,000, it took my breath way.

While my first $5000 Mac was more curiosity than a working tool, I knew that these little devices were going to change my life and the world. It didn't take long. We built the first Mac network in western Canada, about a dozen Macs cohabiting with Suns, SGIs, Apollos, Microvaxens, and of course, an indispensable LaserWriter.

In the mid 80s, many people worked in large institutions so they could enjoy access to scarce or expensive resources. The Mac came along and I discovered my private practice. Things really started hopping for me when the IIci came along.

Over the past 20 years, my world changed for the better and I helped improve it for a few folks, too. I started my little nuclear family and became increasingly independent, learning to work on my own... without enormous budgets and massive IT plumbing. I've implemented the technology in increasingly smaller enterprises, as applications and tools emerged in manufacturing, pre-press, video, and the web.

I love this story from Joe Reed of Midland, Texas.  Joe is 57.
Well, it all started in 1978 when the Math teacher at Big Spring High School, Big Spring, Texas, invited the faculty to come up and "get to know" the new Apple II+ computers that were recently purchased. His last sentence snared me. It was "if you do come up and see them, then you won't be totally computer illiterate." Well! I didn't want to be illiterate so I took him up on his offer. I learned about the computer and AppleSoft. I really got "into" programming, and that says a lot about a Biology teacher who didn't know anything about computers.

Then came 1984 and "THE SUPERBOWL AD". I saw the ad and thought it was great, but it didn't cause me to drool because I had not seen a Mac. I was curious. In February of 1984, I was asked by the dealer to go and see a demonstration of the new Macintosh computer. When I saw it, I was amazed. Wow! You could work one of these things without knowing how to program. It was love at first sight. What a deal. And a deal it was. I ordered my first Mac (original) and printer. Then I went home to tell my wife what I'd done...

When I told her, the spark in her eye dimmed. She coolly said, "You did what?"  I knew then and there that I should've talked it over with her...but I had been smitten by the Macintosh. "Just wait!", I said. "When it gets here you will love it!"

It took about a month to arrive, and a "cool" month it was, if you know what I mean. When the Mac arrived, my wife, who was skeptical about the whole thing was first impressed by getting it all set up with only three wires. One wire for the printer, one for the power, and one for the keyboard/mouse. When I turned it on, I quickly showed her MacPaint. Since she does a lot of art things, she was impressed by how easy it was to draw pictures. I then challenged her to draw me a picture of a microscope (with and without labels) for me to use with my Biology classes. She did. I did.

We've been using Macintosh computers ever since. I've used it for word processing, desktop publishing, database creation, E-mail, Internet, video editing, photo-editing, creating and managing an online newsletter for teachers, creating cross-stitch patterns, audio capture and editing, and Web page creation. The Macintosh computers we've purchased through the years have been so useful.

In fact, the Macintosh helped me to change careers after 22 years in the classroom, I went to work as a Technology Coordinator for Region 18 Education Service Center (11 years). Recently, I've retired, but my wife and I have starting a business doing video editing. We have two Macs. A blue and white G3, and a G4 iMac. We're having fun and it is because the Macintosh has been such a central part of our lives.

And here is the last entry.  It is from our most senior participant as well.  Clarence Brown is 87 and a new computer user.
The stylish red & grey see-through devise with a face about 15" square had been intimidating me for nearly a year.  It had been a gift from my twin daughters and their respective partners. 

One day I'd finally gotten somewhat caught-up on things and asked my daughter, Judi, "How do I turn this thing on?"   That was like slitting open a tightly-packed pillow of goose down.  No way to go back.

Amazing happenings, sights, sounds, and uses were revealed to me.  I slowly relearned how to type with my 87 year old fingers.  Why did I waste so many months in fear of this mind and body stimulator called the iMac?  Heaven only knows.  I've always run my own business and now I'm even submitting my bids electronically to the state of Maryland.


Clarence Brown With His Ruby iMac

In my next column I will share with you my experiences visiting a junior high school to teach iMovie to 180 kids, a new software application, and what it was like when my town got a real live Apple store.


Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.


Post your comments below.

Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.


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