Dave Hamilton: The Mac Is The Reason I'm Here

Of course that title's not actually true. I'm older than the Mac, so it's not like the Mac was responsible for my conception or anything. But it has been a big part of my life, for a long time.

The very first computer we owned was a Timex Sinclair. With its touchy-feely keyboard and its one hertz screen refresh (connected to an old television, naturally), it was a lean, mean, flight-simulator machine (after waiting a half-hour for Flight Simulator to load). But hey, we all gotta start somewhere.

The first real computer we had was an Apple //c. I had been working on Apples in school for years, even borrowing one on the weekends to bring home and tinker with. That's where I really began to develop my programming chops. Being able to manipulate what the computer did was Pretty Darn Cool.

With the //c, though, we eventually got a modem (first a 1200bps Popcom, then a USR 2400). That was life–changing. I was able to find and connect with like-minded people (we geeks were int he minority back then!). I could call bulletin board systems, and then ran my own for several years (203 area code, represent!). Some of my best friends today (including John F. Braun, with whom I now host Mac Geek Gab) were met in that way back then.

In 1989, though, things changed again when my first Mac, an SE/30 with 1MB RAM and a 40MB hard drive, arrived. I actually bought it through the Reed College purchase program via a friend that went to school there (it saved me about $500 at the time; thanks, Jason!).

The Macintosh SE/30

I had tinkered with a GUI before with some of the ProDOS-based apps on my //c, but the Mac was a whole different world. It was very different, but it was SO fast. It was quite a paradigm shift to have the computer spending a not-insignificant amount of its CPU cycles on just how it looked. But the CPU was fast enough to accomplish that alongside whatever I needed to get done.

It was on my SE/30 that I first connected to the Internet and again things changed profoundly. The internet allowed me a way to (legally!) connect with people all over the world for free (or a flat cost, anyway) and with IRC and FTP sites replacing the BBSs of old, I was off to the races in semi-familiar territory.

Over the years I've owned a lot of Macs, including several clones. That original SE/30 will always hold a special place in my heart, but other notables include:

The PowerBook 540c that I took with me on tour with Hypnotic Clambake in 1995. That combined with a true acoustic coupler modem tethered me back home for email and various reports. It was pretty cool to have a portable, color computer that did everything I needed.

The Power Computing Power 100. I bought this shortly after we moved to Austin (and right when it came out) and I dare say that our Austin-oriented love of Power Computing machines is what bonded Bryan Chaffin and I together. That friendship, of course, resulted in The Mac Observer being formed several years later.

My current 11-inch MacBook Air. Never before have I had a laptop that I wanted to hold on my lap. That thing's freakin' perfect!

Without computers and specifically without the Mac, I honestly don't know what I'd be doing today. But I certainly wouldn't be typing this retrospective to all of you while on a plane bound for Cupertino where I'll be playing my drums tomorrow night at the Mac 30th event. Of that, I'm certain!

Thanks to all of you who have created the Mac for all of us. And thanks to all of you who use the Mac and come here to TMO or listen to MGG. Together you make my charmed life possible. I couldn't do it without you, nor would I want to.