My Earliest ExposureTo Computers (Happy Birthday Macintosh)

Twenty-seven years ago I was exposed to my first computer. The elementary school I attended (John Lewis Childs School in Floral Park, NY) recognized the importance of exposing children to computers at an early age. The school built a computer lab and stocked it with Apple II and Apple IIe computers. With increasing frequency, grades 1 through 6 shared use of the computer lab. Activities included everything from playing games to entering simple programs in BASIC. The first time I used a computer for a creative task was in second grade. I used Applesoft BASIC to plot an image of a ghost on screen. I ran home, printed program in hand, excited to show my father what I could do with a computer. He too recognized the importance of computers and had recently purchased one for our home. I sat in front of our home computer for an hour, diligently entering the program, and ran it. Nothing… But it’s a ghost! It prints a ghost on screen I declared! The computer my father purchased was an IBM compatible. The program only worked on Apple computers.

In fact the program wasn’t compatible with Apple’s latest generation of computers either–the Macintosh. By the time I was exposed to computers, the Macintosh wasn’t new. To the contrary it had already failed in the eyes of many. It didn’t utilize a hard-drive for storage. It didn’t have a large software catalog. It was expensive. Cost was the very reason my elementary school stocked itself with dated Apple II’s instead of the more-modern Macintosh. By contrast the IBM PC’s of the era used hard-drives for storage. They had extensive software catalogs from Microsoft and IBM. While being expensive, IBM compatibles looked cheap when compared to Macintosh. In the years that followed Apple maintained it’s foothold in the education sector but most home computers were IBM compatibles. By the time I reached high-school every computer-owning friend I had owned an IBM compatible. Mac’s were essentially dead. I grew up a PC.

Today, Apple’s Macintosh is a success story. Thanks to Steve Jobs’ perseverance the Macintosh didn’t die. The IBM compatible–now simply know as a PC–is still the dominant force, yet Apple is steadily pushing PC’s out of the very market they dominate. Mac’s have a massive software catalog. Mac’s are priced at a point that most people can afford. Many would argue the latest Mac hardware and software has PC industry giants scrambling to compete. I now own a Mac. The Mac lives on!

Check out the video above to see how the Macintosh began.

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