My Personal Computer History, How I Came to Work on the Mac

I’m working on some other posts to recount the history of our CocoaHeads chapter. While brainstorming for it I couldn’t help but start to capture my own history and how I came to work on the Mac so I figured I’d write it up and share.

The following post has a lot of “Way Back Machine” links to see sites as they used to be, a fun trip down memory lane.

I didn’t start learning computer stuff until high school (1995) and even then it was on a 286 using DOS for BASIC and PASCAL. Starting college (1997) I finally got to buy a computer of my own, it was a Windows machine but I didn’t really mind at the time. After my first year of college I got to take my co-op experience. Through it I ended up doing web design for a small company just outside Philly. I got to work with a former Apple employee and he was quick to saturate me in the ways of the Mac. Overall I was impressed and by the end of the co-op was considering a Mac of my own. Now being in college and just having bought a Windows computer I wasn’t in a financial position to change, but the seeds were planted.

By 2000 I was doing web design part time for Seybold, using a Mac at work and Windows at home. I was getting into the server side of web development, learning about UNIX, Apache, MySQL and the like. Around this time Mac OS X was announced. The idea of running Photoshop next to Apache pretty much sold me and I knew right then I wanted to participate on this platform.

I probably watched Steve introduce the Aqua UI over a dozen times.

With the 2001 Macworld Keynote came the release of the Titanium PowerBook G4. I got the high end 500 MHz model. I split the cost across two credit cards and some cash. I couldn’t afford this machine but I had to have it. It was the first personal Mac I ever owned.

Initially I ran Mac OS 9 on my TiBook, but on Saturday March 24, 2001 I drove out into the rain to my local UPS warehouse to pick up the copy of Mac OS X I had ordered (No way I was going to wait until Monday for delivery!). I came home, installed it and never went back.

Well, technically I did go back to OS 9 on occasion. Some apps like Final Cut Pro (which I was using for my film class) didn’t work in the Classic environment at all and other apps, well, just worked better booted into 9. That said, I really enjoyed working in OS X. Despite all of its performance issues and bugs I was too busy enjoying all the new stuff: the new UI and the new APIs (my first time programming for a native window UI).

Time moves on, it’s 2003 or so. By now I’m a total Apple geek. Regularly reading As the Apple Turns and Daring Fireball. I’m marking my calendar and listening to Your Mac Life’s live radio shows. I’m reading tons of books about the history of Apple.

I’m now also now looking to connect with other Mac users. I eventually come to join MacBUS a local Mac User Group focused on the business side of the Mac. I also visit other groups in the area from time to time such as the Main Line Mac User Group’s Programming Special Interest Group. A fun group but there was little coverage of Cocoa, it was mostly scripting languages like AppleScript and PHP.

It was however through these groups and connections I met Randy Zauhar, a professor at the University of the Science. He and some of his students were working in Cocoa and wanted to start a regular meetup. We called it PHAD, Philadelphia Apple Developers.

And that’s it for now. I’ll recount more of PHAD and how it eventually lead into Philly CocoaHeads in my next post.