Sunday, July 25, 2010

When Apples wore rainbows

Another classic
London, ON, May 2010

I have a thing for old computers. In the cruel light of modern-day technology, they don't deserve a second glance. Their specs can be beaten by the most run-of-the-mill cell phone, and they're so obsolete that getting data off of them can range from difficult to impossible.

To wit, this machine has a 3.5-inch floppoy drive, a full array of serial and parallel ports (all together now, "Oooooh"), and absolutely no way to jack in a USB flash drive. Its screen resolution hurts my eyes and listening to the hard drive crunch away while it loads Word documents reminds me of what it must have been like to crank-start grandpa's Ford Model T.

But sheer performance matters little when history comes into play. I found this machine in the far corner of the youth director's office after dropping my kids off at choir. I used one just like it way too many years ago, and never forgot how much I enjoyed the experience - and how much this humble little machine started me on the road to following and writing about Apple in my eventual career. I wasn't alone, either: In schools across the continent, machines just like this defined how students first transitioned into computer-based learning.

Laughable technology today, I know. But sometimes I feel we don't take the time to appreciate the history of an era where everything seems to be disposable and forgettable. Perhaps milestone machines like this Mac LC III deserve to be celebrated a little and not relegated to dusty office corners.

Your turn: Your favorite old computer was a...? Why? What made it special?

Thematic Photographic's closeup week continues here.


Twain12 said...

i didn't have one but my stepfather has an old commodore something like this

Ben said...

I would say that our first machine has the most meaning to us. We started late, inheriting a Packard Bell (one of those horizontal cases) in 1998 or so. It had the first Pentium processor in it, and it was modified with 32 megs of ram, 2 gigs of hard drive, and a Voodoo video card. We had to call my buddy up late that first night to understand that you had to click "start" on Windows 95 to shut it down. The next day, Tammy got it "online" with AOL... and the rest was history!

Mark said...

I am saddled with a strange desire to keep older computers alive. To that end, I install operating systems like Damn Small Linux on an old 386 IBM laptop. The problem is getting any content off of it. I admit I haven't done that in a while, and that's probably a good thing.

srp said...

My first was a Mac Classic.... great little all in one.

Catherine said...

Our first computer was an Apple II, way before they came up with the Mac. We had games on cassette tapes which took quite a while to load - there was "Little Brick Out" and "Space Invaders", very primitive by today's standards but we though they were great fun.
My other half has a huge collection of these old computers stashed in our garage and occasionally gets called on to produce spare parts for someone who still uses one.

fredamans said...

My favorite old computer was our Commodore 64. It was my first glimpse at the world of pc's and I took to it immediately. Now, back then you hooked them up to your television set, but it still had gaming capabilities and DOS mode. I kept that thing until 2000. I suppose I had a hard time letting go. Today, I couldn't imagine ever being on a pc so slow in speed. It seems unfathomable by today's standards where we're mostly on fiber optics now.

Mark said...

I forgot to mention my favorite. It was an Apple IIe, my first computer. I learned Applesoft Basic, making up quizzes that checked the user's answer with simple IF, THEN, ><, etc. Making a computer do what I wanted it to do was thrilling.