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Just a Thought - A Mac in Every PC

by - October 28th, 2004

Preface: I work in a place where mentioning Macs makes people crinkle their noses as if someone had just out-gassed after eating egg salad. The arguments for their Mac aversion are as tired as their expressions; most opinions are hold-overs from the days of Apple's single digit OSes. When I set about explaining that OS X is not your daddy's Mac OS, I have to overcome mile high mental walls that reject facts like Yao Ming rejects jump shots.

What's worse is the nearly maniacal adherence to Microsoft these people have.

After a conversation with one of these Big Redmond Raiders, I felt compelled to pen the following. Read it if you'd like, but be aware that I post nothing new to anyone with any reasonable view of Apple and PCs.

Hey Buddy, yeah, you, the PC zealot. You know who you are. Lemme talk to you for a moment.

Don't worry, I'm not going to try to sway your devotion to the Gods of Redmond, and I won't harangue you about your forced preoccupation with viruses and worms, especially now that OS X has its first bona-fide worm in the wild. And I'm not going to pick at you about your secret longing for an iPod, which may have been fanned to a raging desire since Apple announced iPod Photo.

No, all I want to do is point out a few small facts that you might have overlooked about Apple and Steve Jobs; easy for you to do since your PC blinders are strapped on so tight that you fart every time you blink.

"Facts," you ask? "What facts could you possibly relay to me that I have not already examined with a fine tooth comb in order to prove that my choice of computer is not only the only choice for me, but it must be the only choice for the rest of humanity as well?"

For you, my PC loving friend, the world would be a better place if it was a completely Windows world; no parasitic penguin slowly, but with increasing vigor, sucking the life out of the PC platform with free or nearly free software, no *NIX boxes competing for the hearts and minds of IT admins, not even those room-filling, Jurassic mainframes that continue to thrive in isolated industry pockets like things from a plot in a Michael Crichton novel. For you, the ultimate bane of your computer using existence, the proverbial thorn in your Intel-loving side, is that platform that commands barely 2% of the desktops world wide, yet has elicited so much positive press that some editorials seem more like a declaration of matrimonial intent than an expression of opinion.

Yes, my good fellow, I speak of Apple's Macintosh computer; that big, shiny, high priced, dual-processor powered system from 1 Infinite Loop. But I'm not going bury you in a blizzard of reason why Macs are great computers. Nope; not gonna do it. Taking the current political atmosphere into consideration; this is my attempt to offer a few nonpartisan points for you to consider.

For instance, while it is true that there is some healthy tit-for-tat feature exchanges between Microsoft's version du jour of Windows and Apple current OS, what you may not realize that the very graphical user interface (GUI) that you find on every desktop computer was first popularized by Apple and Steve Jobs. It was the Lisa, then the Mac that is the reason your XP PC works as well as it does.

For you fact checkers: It is common knowledge that Apple took the idea for using a GUI from Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Also, Windows was a rip-off of the Mac interface for which Apple sued Microsoft, and lost.

How about USB; did you know that the standard for USB was put together by PC industry heavyweights such as Compaq, Intel, Microsoft, and NEC, back in 1996, but hardly anyone was using USB until 1998? What happened in 1998, you ask? Why that was the year the iMac was introduced. If you'll remember, the original iMac ignored all PC cabling standards at the time and relied exclusively on USB for all of its peripheral connections. It was a big gamble because it meant that any iMac buyer would also have to buy a new printer, and scanner, and anything else he might have had connected via some version of serial or parallel cabling. So, in essence, Apple jump-started the use of USB. Now, you can't shake a dirty stick without hitting a PC with USB ports.

Without Apple and Steve Jobs coercing the industry to use USB, all of your plug-n-play on your XP box, and plug-n-pray on earlier Windows version would likely not have gotten past the plug stage as quickly as it has.

Now, let's talk about music for a moment. Not too long ago you were likely downloading incomplete and badly encoded copies of 'Layla' from Napster, then burning the music onto a CD. Now, like sands in an hourglass, so are the number of legit music download sites, each offering pristine copies of darn near anything you want for not more than it cost you to buy bag of greasy fries from Mickey D's.

And you don't have to fumble through stacks of CDs anymore; every tune you've ever own can now be carried with you like greasers in the 50's use to carry packs of cigarettes; rolled up in your shirt sleeves, or stuffed into tight jean pockets. All popular and possible because of Apple and Steve Jobs.

And just when you thought that the PC industry would finally produce an answer to the iPod, Apple goes and produces the iPod Photo. Now, you can carry your tunes and your pictures with you in the same card deck sized package. The sweet just got sweeter.

I'm not saying the Apple and Steve Jobs should be worshipped for their god-like ability to make innovation as popular as canvas Converse high-top All-Stars: All I'm saying is that much of what you hold dear in that PC your clutching to your breast was made possible or popular by Apple and Steve Jobs. And if they deserve nothing else, they deserve a small amount of respect.

So, forget the inane arguments about platform superiority, forget about style and art in the design of Macs, and the lack of it in PCs, forget that you can build a PC for half the cost of an eMac. All I wish is for you to keep your PCs, and your XPs, and your digital diseases, but be mindful that everything good about your PC is good because Apple and Steve Jobs made it so. (And everything bad about your PC is bad because Big Redmond made it so, but we won't go into that here.)

I guess that kinda makes you a Mac fan after all, huh?

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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