Our fondest memories from 30 years of the Mac - what are yours?

Remembering our first Macs - what was yours?

Everyone remembers their first time. What was the first Mac you ever owned, or used? Here are some of our first experiences

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh. We thought it'd be fun to take a trip down memory lane: To remember the first Mac we ever owned or used. We want to hear from you too. So once you've had a chance to read our memories, post some of your own in the comments!

Anthony Casella

My first Mac was a hand me down MacBook Pro. Up until that point, i hadn’t touched Apple hardware or software since my first computer, an awesome Apple IIc (Choplifter represent!) when I was 14 years old.

Working in IT I had to use various tools to maintain our various systems, most of them UNIX based. I naturally used Linux (various flavors) because of the customizability, plentiful GNU software, scripting, and modular design. I also enjoyed the Open Source Ideology. I usually kept my desktop running gnome or some other default desktop manager. The one drawback with Linux at that time was that I always had to fiddle to get things too work properly. 3D, playing various media, Wi-Fi and many other things had to be tweaked to work. Eventually I’d get it, but it was always a chore.

Then, one fateful day, my company started to get a few Macs running OS X. A UNIX based system with gorgeous UI. It looked amazing. Everything just worked. On top of that, it had access to all of the various GNU tools and software that I needed for work. At first I was reticent to admit my jealousy. I went COMPIZ crazy trying to outdo the beautiful desktop the Mac had to offer. After a lot of under the hood configuration, I could arguably say that my Linux UI and desktop was just as beautiful as any Mac OS X desktop. But the time it took to get there was too long. Too much fiddling. The next year we got more Macs in and I got offered one of the originals. I jumped at the chance and finally had my first Mac. I was very comfortable with the UNIX underpinnings right away. Terminals, X11, access to GNU software. All this, and a fully functional, easy to use an beautiful desktop UI. It felt like Linux+.

I have not looked back since. I have at times wondered if I would enjoy going back to using a Linux box. I think of using some of my old Mac hardware to install some modern distro but Mac OS X works so well even on my older hardware that I can’t stomach the idea of trying to configure everything to get it to work as well it already does with Mac OS X.

The best part of my journey from Linux to Mac is that I now appreciate the amount of work it takes to tweak an OS and a desktop UI to get to the highly polished level that the Mac has to offer.

Marc Edwards

The first Mac I owned was an LC 630, bought predominately for writing music and using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Coming from an Amiga 1200, it felt in many ways like a step back. No preemptive multitasking? Really?! Not as many games. No demo scene. But, in most other ways it was a giant leap forward — a far nicer user interface, quicker hardware, and far, far better software. Deluxe Paint and OctaMED on the Amiga were great, but basic in comparison to Photoshop and Logic on the Mac, which I still use today. It’s pretty insane to think I’ve been using those apps on a Mac for a greater portion of my life than not. I have no idea what I’d be doing as a career if I didn’t buy a Mac 20 or so years ago.

Richard Devine

Being younger than the Mac, I've not had the pleasure of experiencing some of those classic older models. My first Mac experience came 8 years ago, when I acquired an 11-inch iBook around the time of my 21st birthday. It was also my very first laptop computer, since in prior years there had been little need for one with a custom built Windows box at home.

Immediately it was a thing of lust; I saw it, I wanted it. The white polycarbonate shell left the iBook standing out among the dreary, black, boring looking Windows laptops. It was also at that time considerably smaller than most of the competing laptops. I just had to have it.

Moving from Windows wasn't the chore I expected it to be, either. Using the Mac felt immediately more natural to me, the computing experience I'd always wanted, but never been able to get with Windows. And so it began.

I've had another Windows laptop in between, but since that day I've owned another 5 different Macs, both laptop and desktop flavor. The Retina MacBook Pro is something even my wildest nerdy dreams couldn't have imagined 8 years ago. But one thing's for sure; I can never go back.

Joe Keller

The first home computer that my parents bought for the house twenty years ago was a Mac. I don't remember the model. I thought it was a fine little machine, but after a few years, we ended up replacing it with a Windows computer. We went through a couple of Gateways and a Dell, before I went to college and got my actual first computer, a Tangent laptop. That was a piece of junk. I think it actually might have been made from old parts.

After Vista took my laptop from barely usable to something that snails actively derided as slow, I decided that enough was enough. In late 2007, I got my first Mac, the first-generation aluminum iMac, with a beautiful 24-inch display. Not only did the iMac differentiate itself from my Windows laptop immediately by working properly, but I was amazed how much friendlier it was. The mental switch from Windows to Mac took almost no time at all, and I was still able to do everything that I needed to do. Everything was so responsive, so smooth, that I couldn't imagine going back. I still can't.

That first impression was so strong that my iMac was soon followed up with a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Both machines have always been so reliable. That's what impresses me most about Macs: the consistant quality of the experience. From hardware to software, I've never regretted switching to Mac.

Derek Kessler

My first exposure to Mac OS came in my elementary school days — I distinctly remember playing The Oregon Trail on one of the three Macintosh II beige boxes we had in the school library. We had recently acquired an Intel 486 computer at home, and though it ran DOS, it also ran my impression of what computers were. My friend Seth's family had a Mac, but when I grew up it was most definitely a time of overwhelming dominance for the PC.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college. The time is 2005, the location is the computer lab at the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. I have a PC, specifically a Motion Computing M1300 tablet (with Gateway branding), and while it is a pretty cool stylus-driven Windows XP machine, I need the power of the computer lab to power through some heavy-duty 3D rendering I need to do for my class. The tablet's served me well up to this point, but the lab full of Mac Pro towers is more to my needs — powerful, and with large screens to boot. And it had the requisite software that the PC lab did not have (the School of Architecture and Interior Design was very Mac-centric, while the Planning school worked on PCs)

This was my first real exposure to Macintosh. In retrospect, coming from a Windows household and coming to scorn Macintosh for no real reason, it's surprising how quickly and comfortably a slipped into using a Mac. I even liked it! I resolved that by the start of the next school year, a Mac would be in my bag. No longer would I fight with Windows to get it to work. While I waited for sufficient funds to accumulate I even started tweaking my Windows XP tablet to look and act a bit more like OS X. I was a convert before I even had a Mac of my own.

And so it was done. My first Mac was a 2006 MacBook Pro 15", the first generation of Intel-powered Macs. It packed a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and weighed in a 5.6 lbs. It changed my computing forever. That purchase set me down a path that six years later saw every one of my family converted to Mac, even my technology-challenged father and grandmother. They're all on iOS now too — I like to keep the tech support calls I receive to as few platforms as possible.

I'm on my third Mac now, having owned a unibody MacBook Pro and now running on a 15" Retina MacBook Pro. A lot has changed since I first toyed with a Mac back in third grade. Hell, a lot has changed since I bought my first Mac seven years ago. But one thing's for certain: I'm not regretting making the jump.

Chris Parsons

Compared to some of my colleagues, I was a late starter into the Mac world. I got my first white MacBook in 2007, picked it up used for $500 but still in beautiful shape. Still have it to this day in fact, albeit in rougher shape but it still boots up and runs like a champ.

I was always a ‘build your own’ Windows machine type of person but Apple really sold me on the whole do more on a Mac philosophy and as it turns out, it’s entirely true for me. There was very little learning curve with OS X and I found a lot of what I liked to use, was already part of the OS. It made the transition insanely easy and the overall app experience itself was / is better for me.

These days, I honestly cannot even touch a Windows machine — I dunno how to use them. I used to know everything about them and if there was issues with something, I knew how to fix them. I’ve seemingly wiped all that from my brain and even have a hard time using a Windows computer keyboard if it’s not one that ripped off Apple’s styling.

As the cliche goes, how has Apple changed your life? They sold me a MacBook and enabled me to do more, faster and easier.

Rene Ritchie

My first computer was an Apple II plus with a green CRT monitor and external disk drive. I loved it. My father later had a Lisa at his office and I remember marveling at how amazing it was to drag everything into the trash can. I wasn’t allowed to touch it again. I had DOS boxes at home after that, and then Amigas. My first Mac was a rather clunky Performa something-or-other that I used to build my first webpage with — in a text editor and Fractal Painter. I had a Windows laptop at the time, though, and ended up using that more often because, mobile. I stayed on PC, thanks to freebie work laptops, for the next few years until Vista made it impossible. Then I demanded, and got, a Mac.

It was a 17-inch Intel MacBook Pro running OS 10 Tiger and I loved it. The build quality was amazing, the user experience astounding, and I never looked back. I was working in design at the time and living in Adobe products, and the combination of the big, beautiful screen, not having to worry about viruses or, worse, anti-virus software, and the multi-window workflow which, ironically, was better and faster than on the OS called Windows, sold me completely. I quickly replaced my home XP machine with a Mac Mini, then a Nehalem Mac Pro, which I still use as my podcasting machine to this day. I’ve gone through a bunch of Mac laptops over the years as well, each and every one of them the best damn computer I’ve ever owned.

Today, when I think about the Mac, I think about quality and passion and great products made by people who themselves want to make and use great products. The Mac isn’t great because the Mac is great. The Mac is great because, product after product, with purpose and intent, the people at Apple consciously and consistently strive to make it great. And as a customer, that means the world to me.

Ally Kazmucha

You can single handedly blame Windows Vista on me ever purchasing a Mac. True story. It all started with a super expensive Sony Vaio laptop with numerous hardware defects and warranty claims. Vista was the final straw since after installation, basic functions of the Vaio just stopped working, like the trackpad that you know, is a vital component of actually being able to use the computer. Out of frustration, I went back to Best Buy filled with rage after Sony refused to help me.

This is where I ran into one of the most awesome store managers ever. Out of anger I told him I was ready to chuck this laptop into the lake and drive to the nearest Apple Store to buy a Mac. He had been looking over my warranty information since I had purchased an extended one through them and I think he sincerely felt bad for all the issues I’d had. His response? “Well we don’t carry Macs but our Best Buy about an hour away does. How about a gift card for the price of this laptop and you can take it up there and try one out? I love mine.”

Not exactly the response I was expecting. But it’s how I ended up with my first Mac, the original 2006 white MacBook. For that, thank you Best Buy dude.

My MacBook was loaded up with OS X Tiger and I absolutely loved it. My love for it was reaffirmed when the first iPhone was released in 2007 and I found out how amazingly well Apple products were designed to work together. I had my own little Apple ecosystem. Everything just worked. From that moment on, I was hooked.

All of a sudden I didn't understand the origin of all the terrible stories about incompatibility that kept me from trying a Mac for so many years. I could save files in Microsoft Office format, share videos and photos, and so much more. What the heck was everyone yelling about? What couldn’t I do on a Mac that I could do on a PC? I still never figured that one out. Unless you were a gamer, I didn’t see what the big deal was.

The best part was that my Mac came with all the programs to do lots of amazing things built right in. With Windows I would have had to buy hundreds of dollars in software to achieve the same result.

That little white MacBook was a trooper and lasted me until I was finally ready to upgrade to a MacBook Pro in 2011. It was then passed down to someone else before finally being laid to rest in 2013. RIP white MacBook, you served me well.

Peter Cohen

The first Mac I ever laid eyes on was at a computer fair held in the parking lot of a high tech company not too far away from my house. It was 1984, and it was the summer after the Macintosh had first debuted. Amidst the piles of manuals, miles of cables and bins of computer parts sat a Mac on a desk, its owner behind it. It was unlike anything I'd seen.

I was a teenage computer nerd. I had a Texas Instruments home computer - a TI-99/4A. One of my favorite things to do on it was to program bitmap graphics, which I would do by drawing a scene on graph paper, dividing the paper into 8 x 8 squares, then calculating how those squares would be represented in hexadecimal code. I'd type that in as data strings in a BASIC program I'd written, then print the output to the screen. Et voila, like magic, an image would appear. It was an arduous process, prone to errors.

Seeing Apple's MacPaint on the tiny screen of that first Mac was a life-changer. You could draw on the screen with the mouse? Are you kidding me with this?

I'd get my own Mac within a year. It was a Fat Mac, just like the original Mac but with an astonishing four times the original memory: 512K, instead of 128K. (That's right, kilobytes, not megabytes or gigabytes.

The Mac's display was black and white and fixed at a resolution of 512 x 384 pixels - a postage stamp compared to the systems today. One lone 400K floppy drive was all I needed at first: that was enough space to store a bootable system volume and the application software I needed. Though I'd eventually get as second floppy so I didn't have to swap out disks a hundred times in order to save files.

I didn't realize it at the time, but the most life-changing Mac app for me was MacWrite, the original Mac word processor. Words I typed looked the same on screen as they did on paper - the very definition of What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG). That empowered me to be more confident in my writing, and I've been using my Mac as an essential writing tool ever since.

Your turn

OK, we've had our say - now I want to hear from you. What was the first experience you had with the Mac? And do you have one now? What was your first Mac model? Please share your experience with me in the comments.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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