There’s an oft-told line about how the Apple II made its way into businesses in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thousands of businessmen walked into computer stores and said. “Sell me a copy of Visicalc and something to run it on.”
I just bought a Mac. It’s been more than ten years since I bought the last one. The precipitating reason was so I could run Iridient Developer, which is Mac-only.
There are other reasons. Many of my friends use Macs exclusively. Some of them, when they find out I use PCs, treat me with a disgusting mixture of sympathy, contempt, and a kind of patronizing indulgence. I tell them that I’ve used Macs, but I know that my experience is so old that it’s not particularly relevant to today’s world.
A little history. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I first started doing digital image processing, the industry was in the process of moving from a model where the work was performed on proprietary, special purpose workstations from companies like Scitex, Dainippon, Crossfield, and Hell, to general purpose desktop computers. The computers of the time were barely up to the task, and there was a brief flurry of applications developed for Unix-based workstations from companies like Silicon Graphics. PCs and Macs were much less expensive, and Macs were a more attractive platform for two reasons: the graphic artists of the day already used Macs because it had become the de facto platform for desktop publishing, and PCs were still struggling with memory addressing issues left over from the DOS days.
So, when I started looking for a photo editing environment, the Mac was the place to be. Photoshop initially was Mac-only, and, although Picture Publisher, the best PC alternative, wasn’t a bad program, it was clear that Photoshop had the legs. So I got a Mac and Photoshop 1.0. I used Macs for about 12 years, while still continuing to use Unix workstations and PCs and PC clones. During part of that time I was also in charge of IT for a medium-sized company, and we ran a mixed Mac/PC shop, so I got a good look at what it took to support the two platforms. Sometimes Mac support was painful, especially in the dark OS 7.x days, and during the transition from Motorola 68xxx processors to the IBM-based PowerPC architecture.
In the early part of the current millennium, I decided that all the apps I really needed ran on the PC, and I mothballed my lozenge-shaped, candy-colored tower Mac. I loaded OS X on it just ot see what the fuss was about, but never did serious work under that OS.
In my Macless ten years, I’ve always wanted to really try to use and OS X computer, but I it never got to the top of the priority list. Iridient Developer pushed me over the top.
I’ve been reporting on the process of getting the new Mac running in my geeky blog. I will say here that the ten years of development have made Windows and Mac OS X more similar than different, that I love having a real Unix machine again (OS X could be thought of as Unix with a pretty face), and that Apple networking in a Windows Domain is not a trivial exercise.
And, I do like Iridient Developer.