PCs

Jason Hiner's first computer: an Apple Mac Classic

TechRepublic Editor in Chief Jason Hiner worked two jobs to save up $1,300 for his first computer: an Apple Macintosh Classic. He says that Mac served him well until his senior year in college.

The first computer I owned was an Apple Mac Classic.

I bought it at the end of the summer before my senior year of high school. I worked two jobs that summer to save up the money. During the day I coached in an instructional baseball league for 7-12 year olds and on the nights and weekends I worked as the head usher at a movie theater.

By the end of the summer I had saved up the $1300 I needed to buy the Mac. I made the purchase from a mail order shop in Texas that I found in an ad in the back of Macworld magazine. I placed the order over the phone and then sent a cashier's check via FedEx (the first time I ever heard of FedEx). About 10 days later, my new Mac arrived and I tore into the box and had it set up within about 20 minutes.

Then I immediately went through the process of installing Aldus PageMaker 4.0 from a stack of floppy discs. PageMaker was the desktop publishing program that we used to produce my high school newspaper, and that fall I was preparing to start my role as editor-in-chief. In fact, the whole reason I was buying a Mac was so that I could work on the newspaper from home instead of staying late at school.

I worked on one of the last weekly high school newspapers in the U.S. (most high schools had gone to bi-weekly or monthly papers) and I had an outstanding journalism teacher who demanded very high quality work. The combination of those factors and my own perfectionism meant that some nights--especially on the days before we went to press--I would end staying at school until 7:00 or 8:00 PM to finish the paper.

So I bought my own Mac to help avoid staying so late to do the newspaper and to be able to type up other class assignments from home instead of being stuck in the computer lab (where it was easy to get distracted).

I was also interested in what we called "IBM compatible" PCs at the time and I worked as the student assistant for the school's computer instructor, who was a hard core IBM zealot. From him I learned about PCs, computer networking, keyboarding, games, and a little programming. I worked with him three days a week in a computer lab full of 286s and 386s, all running DOS or Windows 3.1. However, since the bulk of my computer work was for the school newspaper, there was really no question that I would buy a Mac for my own computer. He and I carried on a regular dialog of intense PC vs. Mac debates.

After I graduated, I took that first Mac to college and it served me well. It lasted until my senior year at Indiana University, when I replaced it with a Mac Performa 6200 in order to help me finish my senior honors thesis. By then, the old Mac Classic was extremely slow in plugging through long documents.

At the time, I had just gotten married and my wife, who is a bit of a technophile herself, actually took the money she had saved for a new dress to wear to my cousin's wedding and used it to help me buy the computer. We took the computer back to married student housing on campus, got an Ethernet card from the campus computing center, and hooked that puppy up to the campus WAN.

We had been on the Internet at the computer labs (and gotten e-mail through Pine on the old Mac), but now we had it in our own apartment. We were absolutely stoked. There was this new thing called the World Wide Web that you accessed with a program called Mosaic. It was amazing.

Once I got into IT, I eventually abandoned Mac for PC as my personal system (although I did later get an iMac for my wife), but I still have that old Mac Classic. It still runs and has a copy of PageMaker on it.

Note: This article originally appeared on TechRepublic on May 19, 2006.

Mac Classic galleries on TechRepublic

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

14 comments
Americium
Americium

This sure reminds me of my first computer, a Texas Instruments Ti-99/4A. It had 16kb of memory. I saved my programs on a Sears cassette tape recorder. The computer had a cartridge slot and joysticks so you could play games on it. My first PC compatible was a Tandy 1000 SX. It had a 8086 processor and 16 color graphics (when IBM was at 2 color). I paid $200 for a card that made it an 80286. There was a keystroke sequence to switch back and forth between the processors. I later paid $200 for a used 20MB hard drive, which was heavenly. I also had a 300 baud modem to log in to the mainframe in college to run my FORTRAN and PL/I.

Scotty62
Scotty62

I keep a beloved Mac SE30 on my desk at work as a (still working!) museum piece.

suzannebraun
suzannebraun

I loved the Mac Classic. Used it for years, then got the Mac Classic II. Great computers, running OS 6 at the time.

Daniel.Muzrall
Daniel.Muzrall

I too had a trust Mac Classic as my first computer. Got it in high school, and that was the end of handwriting papers for me! Since it was the "family" computer, I couldn't take it to college with me, so I ended up getting a used Wang desktop rocking a 386SX-16 and a huge 8MB of RAM! Then I traded "up" to a Packard Bell 486DX4-100 with an amazing 24MB of RAM. I remember that thing had a ton of 1MB SIMMS riding in those old SIMM trees. Now those were the days! While I may have migrated my personal computer from Mac to PC, I worked in the campus computer labs working on Mac LCs, Quadras, and Performas. Sadly, I haven't really touched a Mac since System 8.

Jud-gernaut
Jud-gernaut

Wow! Good for you, Jason - I didn't think you could post an article about your Apple affinity without the usual cast of Apple-hating characters attempting to ruin the party (well, besides the guy that didn't like the tech support response he got 25+ years ago) This must be a first!

_Pete_
_Pete_

I guess I'm a little older than Jason. I had one of the original Macs purchased in 1985. 128K memory, one floppy disk. Had to have the OS installed on the same floppy as the app so you could boot everything up off the one drive. Otherwise you had to swap the disk in and out of the drive a couple dozen times! I finally saved up a few hundred bucks to buy a used external floppy drive, dot matrix printer, and a 300-baud modem. That setup got me thru 4 years of college. I could do my mainframe programming assignments from home remotely. No standing in line at the terminal room. Man, I was top-of-the-line!

sjdorst
sjdorst

1) Imsai (?spelling?) - I went in halvsies with a friend 2) Dumb Terminal - Televideo -- in College with modem - not a computer but kept me from the long lines for the 3270's in the computer center - and the 1 hour restriction once in front of the 3270! 3) Osborne 1 4) Fat Mac serial number - less than 50 - and I kick myself all the time for discarding it 5) Mac Classic - same as above on the discard!

mbaker
mbaker

I bought a 128K Mac in May of 1984. The Farnsworth computer Center had a deal going, the 128K mac, external floppy drive, imagewriter I printer and a coupon for $200 of mac software (I think I bought Microsoft Basic and something called Habbadex desktop organizer) for $2,990. I sent it out in May of 1985 to upgrade it to 512K, so I could play Microsoft Flight Symulator and hear the sound. I loved the original program that came with it called Amazing, a program to help you use the mouse. I was in college at the time, and used the macwrite/macpaint to do my papers. Traded it in at a Palatine computer store in 1987, and used that money for a new Mac SE with a 45MB (yes, 45MB) rear mount internal hard drive and 4MB of RAM.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Having your own modem and printer definitely made you "top of the line" back then!

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Our school bought one. We were constantly "pushing the envelope" of what it could do. We found many bugs in AppleSoft, the OS. And when we called Apple support and asked about it, they confirmed the bugs. When we asked "when will it be fixed?" we were told, "it's a bug, but we're probably not going to fix it." And that's why I don't own any Apple products. ;-)

JamesRL
JamesRL

I wasn't pushing it though, just using standard apps. I pushed when I got my Mac, but never had to call Apple. James

Tink!
Tink!

I remember my brother had it because he was in college and it was an easy computer to tote around (sans monitor of course). After college I inherited it and taught myself to type on the Dvorak layout (long since forgotten) just for kicks. Oh, and we didn't have any bugs.

jfuller05
jfuller05

Is that not good customer service? ?:| :)