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.
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Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.