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back to article 25 years of Mac - the good, the bad, and the cheese grater

On Saturday, January 24th, the Apple Macintosh turns 25. Over the short history of personal computing, no machine has inspired so much love and so much loathing, so many fanatical fans and so many frothing detractors. And so many opinions. So very many opinions. No doubt, you have your own. And I have mine. Here, I give you the …

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In my opinion

The IIci was a cracker, I ran one with an outrageously expensive Pivot screen (A giant CRT that swivelled from Landscape to Portrait) that I thanksfully didn't pay for.

I also love the Mac Mini - so much power in such a tiny wee box. It makes a wicked media centre.

You have to say though that, for what you gets, you pays a lot. Hats off to them if they can get away with it.

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No mention of the Mac Duo?

A wonderful concept this one, did what it said on the tin and believe it or not, was light for the era in which it was produced.

I have to agree though about the Number 1. The SE30 was fantastic, outperformed everything and mine is still going strong...with System 7.

Also think you should have included the 6000, the very first with a Power PC chip. Mine was upgraded with a second, much larger hard-drive in place of the CD drive which I replaced with an external, maxed out the ram and even put a G3 processor card into the Nubus slot.

While the bus speed was a mere 25Mhz, the processor running at 400Mhz made it really motor. Finally gave it away to a friend who is still using it for DTP.

As for the worst, how about Quadras and Centris. They were really pants!!!

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Anonymous Coward

RE: stolen from Xerox

Actually Apple paid for the things Steve Jobs "stole" from PARC, with Apple shares and the like.

Think yourselves lucky he missed their attempt at email or you'd be paying Apple every time you sent one.

My own story though is that I bought a Mac Classic (68k processor, 4Mb RAM, 40 Mb HDD) when I was at University in 1990 and it still worked (unfortunately not the keyboard though) when I gave it away last year.

Wouldn't buy another Apple computer though.

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Dead Vulture

Re: And coincidentally

"The 25th anniversary of the visionary British computer - the Sinclair QL"

Yeah El Reg. Where was the QL 25th anniversary feature?

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No mention...

...of the IIfx? I had two of those beasties and they were simply awesome.

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Another vote for the SE/30

The SE/30 (with hard disk) can boot up system 6 from power on in two and a half seconds. I have never seen a GUI machine before or since to match that. Bloatware law overtook Moores law and rules to this day.

I've still got one, with ethernet.

@Frank Bough - sorry, the Color Classic is an LC II inside, and no match for the SE/30 in performance, despite coming 4 years later.

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QL? Don't forget the CPC

The QL might have been 25 this year, but so is the Amstrad CPC. And at least that sold more than a few thousand the QL did before Amstrad put it out of its misery. (the CPC shifted 3 million units to be precise).

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@ Sinclair QL moaners

You can still buy a Mac, you can't buy a Sinclair. This article is clearly 25 years of Macs, from past to present, not 25 years since the first Mac. There is no "present" for Sinclairs, hence no article.

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@Cameron Colley

When there is any other desktop option, for a consumer to buy in working order, then you may have a point.

As for the MacBook Air, it is streets ahead of the 'NetBooks' that are all the rage just now, but covers a very similar purpose.

For my money, the worst Mac has to be a toss-up between the Mac Classic, or the Colour Classic. The latter was a much better machine, thanks mainly to the colour screen, but both had a spec that could have been bettered many years earlier, and never really cheap enough to warrant it.

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Happy

I had a Fat Mac 512k

My dad bought it home one night around 1988 I think. He had bought it second hand from work. I was really excited to think I now had a 'proper' 68000 computer (Spectrum before). It also had the external floppy drive (kind of essential) and all the Paint/Word software.

We really enjoyed playing with it. I learnt a lot about handling mouse driven computers. Paint was great even though it was all monochrome but we didnt care. However, the gleam soon wore off. Software in the form of games (mainly cult adventure ones from the USA) were hugely expensive for a 17 year old and hardware? Well hardware was all custom non standard stuff that was in the realm of fantasy land.

So after about 6 months it ended up as a cute nicnac in my bedroom and then moved into the loft a while later where it still resides in my parents house. In 1993 my dad bought a 486DX PC, I was 22 with a job and I never looked back. I didnt try using a Mac again until around 2002 when an exec wanted us to hook up a webcam to his iMac. It was horrendous. I managed to avoid them again till a couple of years ago when a mate asked me to hook his new Macbook to a wireless lan. That worked easy first time. I might re-visit them one day out of curiousity. Its more likely than Linux anyway.

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What? No Pismo?

I can't believe this Powerbook was not included in the lineup. I used one for years without fail and even rebuilt the batteries myself. I still have the thing and fully intend to keep using it for my workshop system for the foreseeable future.

A wonderful system and I still prefer the keyboard on it to the chicklet keyboard of my Macbook.

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N

Imagine...

If you could take your current Mac back to 1984

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A subtle plug...?

"First, a disclosure: I'm a Mac fan, a fanboi, a Mactard, a >>Mac addict << - depending upon your point of view."

A shout-out to the old neighborhood, Rik? Aren't you a Mac user, as well? <gr>

Good bit of nostalgia, there.

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Unhappy

So sad

It makes me sad to see you consider the Twentieth Anniversary Mac to be one of the worst Macs. I have owned many, many Macs over the years, starting with my first Mac Plus back in 1986, and the TAM was one of my favorites. No one could dispute it had an amazing sound system. It quickly became the device I used to listen to my CDs. The TV feature was amazing. You could watch TV, and it would even capture closed captioning in a text file, which I always found pretty amazing (at the time, I was writing about certain TV shows, so that was a major bonus).

The biggest downside to the TAM was the fact that Steve Jobs didn't like it because it wasn't designed on his watch, so he quickly orphaned the machine. One good thing came of that: I stopped being the die-hard Mac Fanboy I had been up to that point, and started learning more about Windows and Linux.

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Jobs Halo

Where is Webster?

I used to be a big time Mac hater. I thought they were useless, over priced, point and drool garbage. Then Mac OS/X came out, and the world changed for me. I was a Linux freak at the time, and the idea of a Unix system that I could buy real commercial software for really appealed to me.

I started by comparing Apple machines to higher end PC machines and discovered to my shock that the prices were as close as to make no difference. But I still wasn't quite ready to make the switch.

But then one day in 2005 Apple announced they were switching to Intel processors, and I thought well, if it doesn't work out, I can always just run Linux on it. When the MacBook came out, I bought one.

I had a few small pains switching, but no more than I would expect when changing OS versions.

Now I have a MacBook Pro, and I am quite happy with it, I upgraded the RAM to 4GB, and use a MS trackball on it. (I could hear it screeming when I plugged that in.)

Now before someone dismisses me as an IT wannabe, let me tell you I admin a mixed network, of XP, and Mac desktops. As well as Solaris, CentOS, Debian, FreeBSD, and a couple of Windows 2003 servers. (Working on getting rid of the Windoze stuff.)

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Jobs Horns

My Opinion...

Top 5

PowerMac 9600 - A Monster of a Machine that wasn't replaced till the G5 tower

Pismo - Many expandable lessons here for apple to follow for their current laptops!

PowerMac G5 - the first Mac that was actually fast enough - I expanded mine with raid and video cards

Quadra 840 AV - The og monster box, I did things on this box that converted every PC user that saw me working on it

7300 - an iron work horse that I found in almost every Mac based office, it worked worked worked

Bottom 5

6400/6500 - The worst machines to upgrade - ever, I can still point out the scars

Performa **0 - Apple should apologize for all the performa triple digit machines

Quadra 605 - I don't know what the engineer was smoking

LC 575/580 - These machine were so slow that no one wanted to use them- no fpu

og iMac - I don't know why anyone liked these bulky, slow and non-upgradable machines (I want to like the screen- shut up and get to work!)

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@Dave NetBooks and the air

If netbooks and the air cover the same field then the netbooks win hands down... I have an eee 700 (that my wife uses) and a eee 1000h that I use. Total cost: 700 euros. Mac Air: *From* 1700 euros.

That's 1000 euros more.

For one machine instead of two - for use on trains where you run higher risk of it being swipped by someone..

With a battery that does not last 6 hours (the eee1000) and that can't be swapped should it run out on the move (without undoing screws).

That I can't plug into my network in the office...

That doesn't have 3 USB connections (alongside the air's bluetooth and 11n wireless)

That even with the 1000 euro difference still only has a 1280*800 screen (not a huge difference over the 1024*600 I have in the 1000h). This is the killer for me. I hate the lack of real estate on the eee but it was 399. If I am paying 1699 for such a machine I want a real resolution (ala the Sony netbook that was reviews this week! There is a big little screen). If the air came with 1440 * 900 then I would be able to understand the price somewhat - as it is...

That does not fit into a small form bag with a novel or so (flat is useless if it does not fit in the bag anyway).

I wouldn't mind a MacBookPro 17 incher (if they didn't cost 1000 euros more than an equivilent top spec Asus W2x - I did check when I upgraded my machine last time). I have an iPod 80GB classic and will get an iPhone in the summer when my contract is up. But I cannot see why someone who wants a machine to use, rather than to pose with, would ever buy the Air... Get a MacBook Pro 100 euros more for way more machine...

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Happy

Nice Article, and Comments!?

Hello,

First, may I say Happy Birthday Mac.

Second, sensible comments about a computer, a O/S or programming language always tends to generate a white noise of posts like "Of course I just do X to solve the problem, but then I'm using Y". A real shame in my opinion, since real gems of information are lost. I honestly mean it when I say that I am glad that these comments have generated very little of that.

All very refreshing!

BTW, I'm not a Mac owner, nor do I intend to be one. I just thought the article and it's comments where instructive.

Pad.

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Ted
Happy

MacBoor Air has ethernet...

@ s

ah, the MacBook Air is very high end and cutting edge, so it's not for offices still stuck in the "cabled" 90's.

yes, the MacBook Air has an easy ethernet option, $29, but it's more conducive to make your office wireless for $40 and then join the 00's.

the MBA is a full featured laptop, not a limited netbook... full sized keys, full keyboard, 13.3 LED screen, 802.11n, 4.5 battery, etc

i know it's hard, but only apple can drag you "kicking and screaming" into the modern age.

ALL laptops in 10 years will work like the MBA, (no cable ports) it's just how this industry works.

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For Alan W. Rateliff, II

Have you seen the Amiga Forever 2006 videos?

The RJ Mical and Dave Haynie ones are great....

I'll look at the books you mentioned.. I do find Commodore a quite depressing but interesting story - how can managers fuck up so badly that they take down a company with such talented people?? Bill Synes and Medhi Ali have so much to answer for. What were they thinking with the Amiga 600???

I mean Dave Haynie is an impressive guy - I am the owner of the Gemini prototype (http://www.amiga-hardware.com/showhardware.cgi?HARDID=224). I did try bidding for the triple A prototype but my brother and I couldn't out bid Ryan (Dave's then boss) when Dave did his famous Ebay auctions a few years back...

I have talked to Dave about trying to get it working (it is missing some PAL chips) but I'm a little paranoid of killing it (Dave told me it is the one of two prototypes and he believes the other one got destroyed when Commodore went bust!).

Mike

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Anonymous Coward

@MacBoor Air has ethernet...

If Netbooks have ethernet AND wireless while the Air has only wireless, how exactly does that make the air part of the '00's and netbooks part of the 90's?

Is it more advanced to "allow" you to buy an add on adapter for the Air which will give it the functionality of a product 5x cheaper?

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s

@Ted

But that's my point it *isn't* cutting edge. It has a lousy screen resolution and limited non replacable battery life. Wifi (even WPA2) is not secure enough for most corperations and the internals of the machine are decidely sub-par for the amount of money that you spend...

It's the future like MP3's played on a mobile phones internal speaker is the future for HiFi music reproduction...

And if Apple are dragging me into the future with this then why do their other laptops still have full port arrays (except the firewire 800 that I know mac fans hated losing). Does that mean that most of Apples customers are also behind the times for wanting screen reslution and connectability?

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Anonymous Coward

@ Dan Wilkinson

"... There is no "present" for Sinclairs, hence no article."

Really? So what happened here then?:

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/04/23/spectrum_zx_25/

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Happy

I had a Mac Plus

... but I strayed away from the Mac around the Performa days. That said, the original, pre-iMac era was pretty good. I never used the PowerBook 170, but did have a PowerBook 180 and can attest to it being a damn good machine! In fact, it was originally my dad's laptop (circa 1992-93) and passed to my hands around 1996. It remained as my main portable up to 1998, when I switched to the Windows world. I'd still have it, had my dad not given it away sometime around 1999 :(

Our last Mac, however, is still chugging away at my mom's house; one of those Performa thingies (I really forget the series number, but something tells me it's one of the ones mentioned here as "worst"). Yet, it still works, and I still can run my 15+ year old HyperCard apps in there! :)

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What's with the CC-by-sa on the image?

The SE/30 image is tagged as "Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License."

So where's the attribution? You've used someone's copyright image, how about complying with the licence under which they allowed you to do so and crediting them for it.

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Paris Hilton

@Mike Gravgaard

Yup. Some mysterious benefactor sent me a Amiga Forever 2006 around my birthday a couple of years ago. Anyway, interesting stuff.

I assume, then, that you are also familiar with the book "On The Edge." Depressing stuff.

As far as not firing up that bad boy, even if it works, if you never try it, does it really matter? The only way to prove it works is to fire it up eventually, I would assume it is better to do so in pursuit of the interest you define than any other.

Let everyone at Amiga.org know how it goes :)

Paris, she wants you to fire it up!

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