A few of the tell tale signs of being a long time Mac user– dating back to the original 128k, back in the last century– include some gray hair, a few more wrinkles, an extra pound or two, and the distinct feeling that we may be the last of a dying breed.
Yes, I know Apple sold more Macs last quarter than ever before, but why do I feel like the endangered species Mac user? Maybe it has something to do with how today’s Macs resemble the first generation of Macs more than they resembled Macs of the late 20th and early 21st century.
The original Macs wowed us more for the potential that point and click promised than they did actual capability. Just like today’s crop of Mac notebooks, Apple and Steve Jobs in the mid-1980s didn’t want customers mucking around the innards of the newly christened King of PCs.
But we did anyway.
Yes, I remember getting the special torque wrench to open my early Macs. I remember paying outlandish sums for extra RAM. I remember the delight that came from Macs that could be opened up so components could be tinkered with, swapped out, and repaired.
Those days are almost gone. That makes me a member of what can only be described as the endangered species Mac user.
Today’s Mac users don’t care about upgrading RAM, or swapping out disk drives or SSDs, or even changing a battery. The Mac notebook line is like the original Mac. Sealed up tighter and more out of sight than real news on cable TV’s 24/7 news operations. When you buy a new Mac these days it pays to get the most RAM with the largest storage possible because that depletes your future options.
The last great customizable Mac was the cheese grater Mac Pro, a behemoth of a machine with a heavy duty aluminum frame about the size of a Fiat 500, but with more options for RAM, disk drives, SuperDrives, power supplies, and graphic cards than any Mac ever. And was there ever a Mac that was easier to add or swap components than the last generation Mac Pro (before the trash can Mac Pro that apparently nobody wants to buy any more)?
There is little question that Steve Jobs wanted the original Mac to be a closed appliance, an exact opposite of the open architecture of the original Apple computers. But wisdom sometimes comes with age and Jobs relented, giving us Macs that did both– closed to those who should not be allowed to peruse the innards of electronic devices, and open to those Mac users who desire to own the experience, inside and outside.
Today’s Macs are Jonny Ive creations, sans the pragmatism Jobs learned on the job as a CEO with a second life (but, sadly, no third life), sterile devices made for the great unwashed masses of computer users who deign Windows PCs, but have no desire to see what goes on inside those esthetic designs that run without a soul.
If you owned a beige Mac then you know you’re on the endangered species Mac user list.
UPDATE – Reader Cal Worthington commented below and provided a list of Hackintosh options to build your own Mac from PC parts.