My Experience With Apple
October 31st, 2007 • General
Had Dali and Picasso never been born, my favorite work of art would have been that of Tom Hughes and John Casado. The nostalgic, the sentimentalists, and those who appreciate art, know exactly what I’m talking about.
Early ’90s, I put my hands on a Macintosh Classic II. It was a striking departure from the bulky interface of Windows 3.0, the difficulty of command-line MS-DOS, and the funny-looking collection of hardware we called a PC.
But my Classic II never became a production computer. With its tiny screen, and its meagre memory, it remained a toy for me to play with every once in a while. I loved it, but it was useless.
Skipping the Color Classic, the PowerBook and the Quadra, my next Apple computer was a full-tower PowerMac, though I can’t quite remember the exact model number. It ran a familiar operating system, something very similar to my Classic II, only it ran much faster.
I believe I was lucky that the first Apple OS I tried was System 7, a polished, intuitive environment where I didn’t have to worry much about what’s going on underneath. Apple went out of their way to make sure System 7 hooked in new-comers, while still satisfied the loyal customers.
However, Intel introduced the Pentium, and a couple of years later, Microsoft introduced Windows 951. Apple’s System 7 suddenly felt out-dated. “It can’t multi-task”, my anti-Apple friends cried out, “It doesn’t run Office”, “It’s made by a fruit!”. But System 7 was still a more polished, more intuitive, and a better-performing system.
1994-1999 witnessed the decline of Apple’s market share. The PC was hungrily biting chunks of Apple’s market, manufacturers were growing like fungi, and Intel wasn’t standing behind Apple like it is today.
Yet Apple had a certain significance, especially for those of us who came to love the two smiling faces, and especially in the Middle East. You had “designer cred” if you owned a Mac. You were someone who knows what he’s doing.
That’s what Apple signified in the Middle East: Designers. The only reason anyone would buy a Mac was to run Photoshop. Not only because Photoshop ran faster, but also because it never crashed. Windows 95 couldn’t hold a candle to the stability of MacOS. But then again, we all know how it didn’t matter.
The next upgrade was a PowerMac G3. It was almost identical to its older sibling. The only difference aside from performance, was the new and colorful MacOS 8. OS 8 wasn’t as stable as its predecessor, not until several months after its release. But it did its job, and only hang when our Media100 did something complicated.
Quickly after that, we brought in a B&W G3, followed by a similar-looking G4, both of which ran MacOS 9. The last “modern” operating system2. That G4 was the last Apple computer that I used on a daily basis. It is also the last PowerPC-only Apple computer.
It might be because Apple was too expensive in the Middle East, or because Apple’s support in the region was a cruel joke against loyal customers, or maybe because Apple’s later computers were just sloppy releases (Cube, Flower Power anyone?). Upgrading a G4 didn’t seem viable, when for only half the price, I could get the same performance. Windows 2000 was a surprisingly stable OS, while OS X was still an infant.
For as long as I can remember, Apple’s products always arrived late in our region. I could never get my hands on the latest an greatest releases. It was a blessing in disguise, I realized, but it still ticked me off that I couldn’t write a review, praise or criticize, or at the very least, form an opnion about Apple’s latest and greatest.
Now allow me to make a bold statement: If history is an indicator, then I suggest you never buy a first-generation Apple product. Never. Ever.
Apple has a history of perfecting3 products as they go. It’s a smart strategy for a company that means business, but early adopters always suffer undesirable consequences. Apple’s first iMacs were cheap Lego-like toys. Early iPods had battery problems. Intel MacBook Pros over-heated. First generation iPhones have personality issues.
This isn’t to say that Apples products are bad. On the contrary, I currently own a 5G iPod, and I wouldn’t replace it for any other music player. My next two computers are going to be a MacBook and a 24″ iMac. And even though I’m installing Linux on the latter, I can’t help but want Apple’s hardware.
But this particular “i” trend is starting to get on my nerves. Apple has always been the symbol of defiance. The company that revolutionized computing. “The computer for the rest of us.” they said, only that goal was set aside by soaring shares.
My experience with Apple, and my support for Free software, taught me to doubt Apple, to question their tactics every now and then, to look for better alternatives, even if along the way, I end up enraging some people. Brand loyalty is worthless, if the brand I’m supporting isn’t supporting me.
Yes, I have my dates straight. PowerMac was introduced in 1994, while Windows 95 had no weight until late ’95, early ’96. ↑
Mac OS X is based on BSD, and uses a hybrid kernel. Whereas MacOS 9 and older systems use a nanokernel, which is considered to be a more modern approach to kernel design. ↑
Perfecting that is, not enhancing. ↑