My Penultimate Column

Dr. Mac's Penultimate Column

I’ve been writing this column for 20+ years — more than 500 columns and a quarter of a million words — and much as I love doing it, my wife and I are ready to retire, so my next column will be my last.

This has been the best gig I’ve ever had, and before I go, I wanted to thank y’all for making it possible.

I’d like to spend my last few column inches with a stroll down memory lane.

In the Beginning

My first column ran on March 24, 1996 and was chock full of tips for speeding up your Mac, plus mini-reviews of Speed Doubler (Connectix) and Marathon 2: Durandal (Bungie).

A few weeks later (April 14, 1996) I said, “There are only two kinds of Mac users: those who have lost data, and those who are going to,” for the first time (I’ve said it at least a dozen more times since then because, sadly, it’s still true today). I went on to recommend Dantz Technologies’ $150 Retrospect backup software and a $700 digital audio tape (DAT) drive from APS Technologies.

“America Online vs. CompuServe for Mac Users” was the headline of my May 19, 1996 column. Need I say more?

In my last column of 1996, I made some predictions:

  • USRobotics new technology, x2, which offers download performance (56Kps) that rivals ISDN (64 to 128Kps), will be well-entrenched by the end of the year.
  • 1997 will be the year you hear about DVD (if you haven’t already).
  • Iomega’s popular Zip (100Mb) and Jaz (1Gb) cartridge drives will continue to grow in popularity, further eclipsing SyQuest
  • The hip Game Sprockets technologies makes it easier than ever to develop great games for the Mac.

I think I mostly nailed them—even the fourth one (proven by the myriad great games for the Mac these days).

1997 and Beyond

Moving right along, in 1997 when Apple purchased NeXT, Inc. and announced that Steve Jobs was returning to Apple, I said, “Huh? Have pigs begun flying? Have the Cubs won a pennant? Did hell freeze over? Apple bought NeXT? Steve Jobs has returned?” It turned out to be a smart move for Apple, which went on to become most successful consumer electronics brand on earth under his command.

Later that year Apple introduced the PowerPC G3 processor, which prompted me to proclaim that “The new G3 computers — desktop, minitower, and PowerBook— are the best, and fastest personal computers I’ve ever seen.”

Quick aside: I’ve called at least a dozen Mac models, “the best and fastest,” since then and it was true every time.

In early 1998 I warned against installing the upgrade to Mac OS 8.1 until some of its bugs were quashed, a warning I’d repeat almost every time Apple introduced a “point-zero” macOS release since.

Tune in next week for tales from the new millennium and the thrilling conclusion to Dr. Mac after 26 (mostly wonderful) years.

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Hi Bob, thanks for all the great work, and have a good retirement with your wife!


I had to re-register on MO to write this. Back in 1995 this site, and many others were required reading for me as a new Mac administrator. Thanks for the guidance and the millions of electrons worth of words you created in writing this column. I benefited immensely from your research and knowledge.

Jeff Butts

When I first switched to Mac and iPhone in around 2007, this site was required reading for me, as well. To say I’m sad to say Bob go is an understatement, but I definitely hope his retirement treats him well.

Lee Dronick

Fair winds and following seas