Early Apple Fanboy
I was in elementary school when I received my first Apple computer. My Apple II wasn’t much to look at, with its cream colored plastic case and green monitor. But what it lacked in design, it made up with for in its technical approachability. I learned the computer inside and out, programming it down to the machine language. I suppose you could say I was an Apple fanboy in my day, eventually trading in my Apple II for an Apple IIe with 128K of RAM and dual floppies.
But then something happened. When I entered high school, along came a new Apple computer: the Macintosh. Not only did the Macintosh look different, but it abandoned compatibility with everything I had learned since age 11. But most importantly, it couldn’t run any one of the hundreds of software applications I owned. In a fit of frustration, I decided to abandon Apple for an IBM PC, and I never looked back.
Over the years, I have written software for a number of operating systems: Windows, OS/2, VMS, SCO, AIX, UNIX, Linux and MS-DOS to name a few. But I have never - I repeat never - written software for a Mac. I watched from a distance at the rise, fall, and then rise again of Apple. When the iPod came out, I bought a lesser clone; when the iPhone came out, I bought an Android; and even as recently as a couple months ago I was shopping for an Android tablet to avoid the iPad.
I’ll confess to even becoming something of a Microsoft fanboy for part of my career. Microsoft nurtured its development community, proving buffet access to their software for the cost of an MSDN license. Their products remained backward compatible to a fault, and they even helped me transition my 16-bit Windows applications to 32-bit with Win32s (I probably shouldn't thank them for that one though).
Don’t get me wrong: I would buy Apple products as gifts for other people. I just wouldn't buy them for myself.
Shortly after finishing my last day this December at Dell, I received this email from a close former colleague:
There's a small gift heading your way - it should be with you by Friday. If you don't like it, I am sure that that the boys will commandeer it. :-)
What arrived the following week was a 17” MacBook Pro. I’ll confess to a certain amount of dismay in opening my first Apple product in almost 30 years. But the MacBook itself - with its aluminum case, rounded corners, glossy backlit display, and inlaid keyboard - immediately dispelled my apprehension. My colleague’s explanation for the gift was a one line IM: “You’re going to look so much cooler with a MacBook in your new startup.”
A Fanboy Reborn
At first I was befuddled by all the key combinations, the trackpad gestures, and surprising complexity of learning to be a power user on a new operating system. But eventually it all seemed to make sense. And once I started using the terminal, exploiting the full power of OS X, I was hooked.
It’s possible I missed something in all those years I could have been using Apple products. But then again, maybe I am returning to Apple at exactly the right time: a time when operating system no longer matters, form is valued equally to function, and UNIX/Linux have prevailed from the server to the phone.
So long live Apple - and let’s hope Steve Jobs returns to the helm soon. ;)
Thanks to friend, colleague and former Microsoft employee for his extravagant and incredibly insightful gift.