Friday, January 26, 2007

The Fanboy History Post

Okay. Inspired by MacFan's comments to the last post, I'll tell my history as an Apple fanboy. This obligates every visitor to this post to enter comments telling how they ended up in this weird fraternity. Otherwise I'll hold my breath for a few seconds, and stomp my feet a couple of times. Maybe I won't, but that doesn't mean you just get to be a snot about it.

My first computer was a Timex/Sinclair 1000 - 4k of onboard RAM and a dongle on the back that boosted it all the way up to 16k. By coupling it with a Radio Shack cassette deck, I was able to play Frogger and run a word processor I bought on tape. Heaven help me, I can't remember the name of the program. I never did figure out how to put a printer on it. It was a fun toy.

After that was my Commodore 64. Then a Commodore 128. When I bought the C-128, my wife and I were working on the road. We traveled from one nuclear power plant to another for outages. I needed something portable. I was kind of interested in a Compaq Portable II. It had everything in one nice neat package.

We went to Computerland in search of my new computer. As we walked up to the store, I looked through the window and saw some salesman fiddling with graphics in a way I hadn't even imagined. He was drawing boxes and circles with MacDraw. I stood and watched, agape, for at least a minute. I told my wife, "I want that."

I left the store an hour later with a Mac SE, an ImageWriter II, a 300 baud modem, and a stack of software. Altogether that system cost about $3500 and it was the coolest thing on the planet. I didn't remember the SuperBowl '84 ad. I didn't know who the hell Steve Jobs was. I just knew that computer was way nifty. It had a whole megabyte of RAM and a 20 meg hard drive. If you logged in to GEnie, Compuserve, or America Online you could download all kinds of shareware and freeware. In those days AOL was still a cool place to spend an afternoon.

Back then, the Mac community was a huddled mass. We had some of the coolest hacks on the planet, though. We had Talking Moose. We had SoundMaster – which would let you assign a sound to just about every thing the computer did, including typewriter sounds for keystrokes and explosions for disk ejects. We had Red Ryder (later White Knight) for controlling our modems. We had Andrew Welch writing shareware widgets (we used to call them Desk Accessories). We had the original Stuffit from Ray Lau. We didn't need tech support either. We had each other, and that was better support than anything you can get now at any price.

Apple gave away the system software. System and Finder were always different versions. If you bought new software of just about any kind, including games, it came with a system disk. If you had the wrong version of the system software, you just took some blank disks to an Apple dealer and they'd give you the most recent versions.

There was no worse sin than copy protection for Mac software. We shared info online and in our magazines about who was copy protecting their stuff. We simply didn't tolerate it. We didn't even let Microsoft get away with it. Word was still not copy protected at version 3. Later they did, but by then we had started to break ranks a bit.

In '89 I snipped the resistor. The resistor was on the board with the SIMM sockets in the original Mac SE. It had to be snipped and moved aside to allow the upgrade to 4 Mb. I used the SE until I bought my Mac LC in '91.

Through the 90s we waited for the return of the Mac to it's former glory. There were many defectors and deserters. Some of us held firm to the belief that our superior computers would one day return to glory. We waited in rapt anticipation for the return of our savior. When Steve returned good stuff started happening and once again our ranks swelled.

We didn't get the title "fanboy" until this century. Then we were the Macintosh community – a bunch of defiant rebels.

Through all that time and still today, I've used a Mac at home and a PC at work. Ever shall it be so.


I've been online from the get-go, and I've had one (1) virus on a Mac. It was a worm that was inadvertently included on a MacAddict CD in '96 or maybe '97. I didn't install the program it was attached to, but the disk was in the drive. So the worm was technically in the computer. 20 years. When I laugh at the Month of Apple Bugs, and jeer and heckle the Apple-bashers it's because I've earned the right. Well, that and because they're morons.

Fanboy? Okay. Watch and see how secure Vista is. I'll bet you a soda pop it's a malware magnet right off the blocks. I'm still waiting for my Macintosh spyware.