Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Macintosh Turns 10 People Still Swear by Their Mac

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Macintosh Turns 10 People Still Swear by Their Mac

Article excerpt

Steve Costa will never forget the day he bought his first Macintosh. It was January 1984, and the Mac had been on the market only a few days when the 27-year-old Stanford University student walked into a Palo Alto computer store and plopped down $2,500.

"I couldn't go to bed for days," Costa said. "Once you have your fondest dreams in your hands, sleep is a very low priority."

The next quarter, Costa had dropped out of school and started hanging around other Macintosh users. "I had found my place in the world," he said.

Likewise, Georgetown University student Tom Rielly, now an executive at Supermac Technologies Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif., had never used a computer before the Mac came out. But after seeing one of the early Macs on a frigid January morning in 1984, he transferred to Yale in part because the school was in the Apple University Consortium - meaning it got favored treatment from Apple and its students got discounts.

Looking back, a lot of people would tell you the arrival of the Macintosh changed their lives in profound, almost mysterious ways. To hear them talk, you might forget the topic was just a computer.

Lured by the promise of a truly better computer or perhaps by the cultish appeal Apple had worked hard to cultivate - Steve Jobs' legendary "reality distortion field" - early Macintosh users like Costa bought into the Apple dream on faith. Faith that Macintosh would deliver on all its promises: that it would be easier to use than any computer before it, that it would offer a radically different experience from the alternative - namely, the IBM PC - and that someday there would be software to run on it.

"Back then, you had to be a fanatic," said Costa, who later that year helped found the Berkeley Macintosh Users Group, which soon became a haven for zealous Macintosh fans. Ten years later, Costa makes his living as the group's executive director. "You had to be odd. And you had to have the time to play with your computer."

Well, times have changed, sort of. Today, you can't necessarily tell Macintosh users from PC users just by looking at them. And the Macintosh's edge over the PC has worn off to some extent, thanks to Microsoft's Windows graphic interface. But at least one thing hasn't changed: When you ask people why they use a Macintosh, they often stumble over their words. Their answers often focus on intangibles.

"It's hard to point to anything," said Nick Arnett, president of Multimedia Computing Corp., a consultancy in Santa Clara, Calif. "It's just more refined. It's smoother, and it does more."

Many people contend the Mac simply "feels better" than Windows and go on to describe a certain connectedness between their movement of the mouse and the action of the cursor on the screen that they say isn't there on Windows machines. Apple says that's because the software is so tightly integrated into the machine. …

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