Calling all Apple Users…

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,264
A thread elsewhere provoked me to post this thread seeking fellow Apple users/enthusiasts. Do you have a story about how you came to use Apple products with a peer group that generally doesn’t, and about why you use it? I‘d love to hear it! Here’s mine in a (very large) nutshell…

While at the university more than half of my engineering faculty used Macs, I find a general rejection of Macs among technical types who gravitate to Linux or Windows. The former is often with a religion-like zeal¹ while the latter may be down to practical considerations of applications they are required to run.

I do use Linux, and have at least eight machines here running Debian (my distro of choice). I also run Windows because there is some software that I want or need to run that only supports it. But, my home, my comfortable desktop, “my” computer—is a Mac.

I have been using Macs since just about right after they were introduced with my first one being the obnoxiously expensive “SE40” I bought to be part of my first consultancy. The ”40” was not, alas, a reference to a 68040, rather to the 40MB hard drive it had. A seagate, with stiction troubles (remember stiction?) and after a while, to get it to boot I had to pick it up by the “handle” and torque it hard with a twist of the wrist to get the drive “unstict”.

It was more expensive than my (then almost peak PC) 80386/25 with 4MB of RAM, a 110MB ESDI hard drive, and an ATI VGA Wonder graphics card driving an NEC 3D 14” color monitor, my first Gateway (!) system back in the days of cow-themed Computer Shopper back-page ads. The entire setup for the PC (running DOS and Windows 2.x) cost me about 3.5 kilobucks.

The Mac sported a 68020 CPU whose clock rate I have forgotten, 2MB of RAM, the aforementioned 40MB drive (slower and much smaller than the PC), and the 9” monochrome screen that was part of the device. It surely didn’t hold up in comparison from the hardware-money-perspective.

But, there was something about using the Mac, even then, that was joyful. It was much more refined from the user’s PoV. It had beautiful fonts, and concerned itself with aesthetics from the very start. The software was all very well written and also usually beautiful, and it just felt nice to be using it. But, if I wasn’t writing a document or doing something relatively trivial, it wasn’t very useful.

I started with Windows, literally from version 1.0–which was effectively useless. But the reason I even pursued it was I knew the Mac platform and had been using the PC platform since it was introduced, literally, with an IBM PC (8088, 4MHz, 1MB of RAM, etc.) and various clones since that time. My consultancy included both platforms, and I loved the look and feel of the Apple environment, the elegance, and the WIMP interface (Windows, Icons, Mouse, and Pointer—so the story goes).

But, I also knew the power of the command line and “hard” access to the computer’s metal beneath the UI. The Mac did its very best to prevent such access (for fear of ”confusing” the user, probably not an unreasonable fear at that) while the PC had the opposite problem of being very “unfriendly”. As a side note, Microsoft BOB did not correct that problem—remember BOB?

So the potential of Windows excited me, even as the reality of it brought tears. But with the introduction of Windows 2.11 (the runtime included with Excel and Word) WIndows began to achieve hints of parity with the MacOS world. Not nearly there, yet, but hints. I stuck with Windows and managed to carve out a career making it work when others couldn’t. Particularly on networks like Netware, and in enterprise-like environments that needed rigor not built-in to the completely naïve of such things Windows.

I went on with Windows to what was a peak—Windows 95 and Windows NT (prior to the Windows 10 era, which version seems pretty good). As 95 and NT aged, Microsoft‘s strategy of layering Service Pack after Service Pack to plug security holes and fix bugs incrementally changed snappy, responsive hardware into molasses slow nightmares. This was often brought home when recovering some system required starting with an installation of the original distribution media–resulting in a fun to use, sporty machine—only to see it get progressively less fun as each SP was applied to bring it up to date.

About this time Apple introduced OS X, based on UNIX. The previous generations were called “MacOS” (and we’ve returned to that nomenclature) and I despised MacOS < 10 for its instability and very, very poor memory management. I’d had to use it professionally for what it did best—graphics arts. I was working in the advertising industry and our designers used all the usual suspect applications from Adobe, Claris, and the like, and the machines crashed constantly. I introduced a Windows NT computer running Photoshop which was 4 times faster and rarely suffered a crash, but most of the designers just couldn’t get over the interface difference.

When OS X was introduced, I was working at the university and my faculty was about 40% MacOS users (MacOS 7, I think). I let someone else deal with the Macs, I stuck to Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, and Linux which kept me busy enough. But with the introduction of OS X, suddenly Macs weren’t MacOS anymore, they were UNIX. It was natural that I was the one called to help.

About that time I was due for a new notebook. My previous one, a lovely, lovely IBM (not Lenovo) ThinkPad T30 was 2 years old. It was still fine, but we had a refresh schedule and I was due. So, I chose to get a PowerBook (Mac PowerPC) and run OS X. I had ~20 years of Windows tools and techniques under my belt, so the idea of switching didn’t seem very likely—but I committed to using the PowerBook exclusively for at least a month to build my Mac/OS X skillset.

I really loved the T30, with its sleek, rubbery black coated titanium shell and TrackPoint device (oh how I hated the trackpads on computers, it was the little rubbery nipple joystick for me!), it’s clever ”ThinkLight” that lit up the keyboard, and the keyboard itself—a joy to type on. And, its 3:4 800x600 display with great (for the day) color. It was also fast, and capable, with removable drives that let me swap media types.

But the PowerBook was certainly very pretty. A very elegant aluminum shell, and very thin compared to the T30. Opening it, there was a massive trackpad (they keep getting bigger and bigger, even today), which filled me with dread. I was certain I would have to carry a mouse around. But, there was also a widescreen display with even higher resolution and better color which was certainly compelling. The aluminized plastic keyboard was smooth and with a great action. There was no ThinkLight… but the keyboard was backlit! Fanstactic.

Once I started using it, the trackpad was an instant favorite. It worked so well, and was much more natural and responsive than TrackPoint. It took all of 3 minutes to convince me this was my new favorite pointing device. And the OS looked beautiful. It was a joy to the eye compared to WIndows. The performance was also great. Everything was fast, snappy, and did what I expected.

(I don’t want to be revisionist here, this was my first impression, OS X had plenty of growing pains and problems to be solved. I would say, though, that on balance I have had less trouble with OS X/MacOS > 10 than with Windows in this regard)

But there was still the issue of my 20 years of tools. All the scripts I’d written, all the tweaks, all the programs I used... long story short, I basically never looked back. Ironically, I switched to co
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
17,095
I can't relate to your issue.

I don't use Apple because it's a closed ecosystem and overpriced. I bought an iPhone 3GS and received a first-generation iPad as a prize. Back then, Apple had a styling and UI advantage. That hasn't been the case for a very long time.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
10,245
" Ironically, I switched to co" co?

I was running DOS 3.2 very happily on a 386 machine. I was writing in Pascal and Assembly language and I found writing for windows to be very tedious. I did not care about making Windows for the programs.

In about 1988 one friend with whom I worked with in the earls 1980's told me that as an Apple employee he could get a great deal on a refurbished Mac, so I bought one. And then I needed to buy memory. Meeting with the memory dealer in a meeting room at an Apple office one evening it felt as I imagined a drug deal would be like. He was nicely dressed, quiet and everything was done in cash.

Two years after that I hired on at Apple and found the Mac was very easy to use for correspondence and creating slide presentations. During my early years at Apple I decided to write a Symposium paper about how CRT spot size is affected by beam current as the current is modulated and how, if done with the right risetime, it would sharpen up the picture. For the paper I need to run simulations so on a business trip I carried a Toshiba MSDOS portable and ran the simulations on it over night while I slept. I one foot in each boat.

Eventually I received a Mathematica license for the Mac and moved my simulations to Mathematic on the Mac. Goodbye MSDOS.

Been using Macs ever since, but also keep VirtualBox to run old versions of Windows because the good engineering stuff runs on Windows.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
31,057
My association with Apple goes back to the original Macintosh computer.

While I grew up with the entire microcomputer revolution starting from the early 1970's, I did not spend a lot of time on Apple IIs. I did a lot of programming, hardware development, and hacking on Commodore VIC20, Commodore 64, and Timex-Sinclair ZX80.

When the Macintosh was introduced in 1984, I immediately registered as a Apple Macintosh developer and received the developer's kit and documentation. I wrote a CAD package for the Mac. I hacked into the Mac and developed SW to run on the Mac hardware bypassing the Mac OS.

Granted, Apple used many concepts from Lisa developed at Xerox PARC. I followed Adele Goldberg's team and benefited from their ideas used in the development of Smalltalk.

Without any debate, Xerox Lisa, and Apple Macintosh led the way and revolutionize the way PCs are used today.

Edit:
When the Mac first came out, accompanied with the Apple Imagewriter dot matrix printer, a colleague and I disliked the available fonts. We were able then to sit down and create our own fonts.

Edit:
As an afternote, the Apple Laserwriter and Adobe Publisher changed by life. I became the editor for the newsletter of a local club and my command of the English language advanced by leaps and bounds.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
34,813
I've used Apple computers occasionally and liked them OK, but I didn't see a significant advantage over a PC with latter versions of Windows, and never bought one because they seemed overpriced compared to a PC with the same performance.
Also PC's were the standard computer where I worked.

I started with an Amiga in the mid 80's, and then went to a PC clone (with a Turbo button!) that was put together from Asian parts by a vendor at the monthly LA Computer Fair [which was a huge, fun thing back then with about a hundred (mostly garage-based) vendors and a few thousand attendees each event, but sadly now defunct].
I've gone through a few PC clones since then with my last ones being from Dell and HP.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,264
My association with Apple goes back to the original Macintosh computer.

While I grew up with the entire microcomputer revolution starting from the early 1970's, I did not spend a lot of time on Apple IIs. I did a lot of programming, hardware development, and hacking on Commodore VIC20, Commodore 64, and Timex-Sinclair ZX80.

When the Macintosh was introduced in 1984, I immediately registered as a Apple Macintosh developer and received the developer's kit and documentation. I wrote a CAD package for the Mac. I hacked into the Mac and developed SW to run on the Mac hardware bypassing the Mac OS.

Granted, Apple used many concepts from Lisa developed at Xerox PARC. I followed Adele Goldberg's team and benefited from their ideas used in the development of Smalltalk.

Without any debate, Xerox Lisa, and Apple Macintosh led the way and revolutionize the way PCs are used today.

Edit:
When the Mac first came out, accompanied with the Apple Imagewriter dot matrix printer, a colleague and I disliked the available fonts. We were able then to sit down and create our own fonts.

Edit:
As an afternote, the Apple Laserwriter and Adobe Publisher changed by life. I became the editor for the newsletter of a local club and my command of the English language advanced by leaps and bounds.
I, too, was there at “the beginning”, and I, too, didn’t do much with the Apples of the day. IMSAI, Cromemco, SWTPC, Sol, Jupiter, and others at first; then Commodore (Pet and 64), TRS-80, and Timex Sinclair. We also had a Heathkit store and I ogled their offerings but never had one.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,264
I can't relate to your issue.

I don't use Apple because it's a closed ecosystem and overpriced. I bought an iPhone 3GS and received a first-generation iPad as a prize. Back then, Apple had a styling and UI advantage. That hasn't been the case for a very long time.
I don’t think Windows—much improved though it is—can match the ecosystem-wide consistency and aesthetic edge of MacOS. But, some things are purely opinion, and this is one of those things.
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
8,282
I don’t think Windows—much improved though it is—can match the ecosystem-wide consistency and aesthetic edge of MacOS. But, some things are purely opinion, and this is one of those things.
Truth being told, I envy the MacOS aesthetics and seamless interface between applications. But I do not like being forced to live in a golden cage, however beautiful it might look on the inside ... I'd rather have the crappy "freedom" that Windows offers instead.

Who knows, maybe I'll eventually get sick and tired of the scummy Windows environment and finally decide to ditch it and learn Linux instead.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
34,813
I don’t think Windows—much improved though it is—can match the ecosystem-wide consistency and aesthetic edge of MacOS.
That may very well be true, but it never seemed compelling enough to me to be worth the significant difference in price ( I consider myself frugal, but others might consider me miserly). ;)
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
17,095
Who knows, maybe I'll eventually get sick and tired of the scummy Windows environment and finally decide to ditch it and learn Linux instead.
Microsoft is on the verge of making that decision for me. Of the 20 or so computers my family has, only a couple are "new" enough to run Win11. In anticipation of that time, I've installed Debian on a P4 system with 4GB of memory and it has run all of the Windows applications I've cared to try. I hate LibreOffice. If I can't run MS Office on Debian, I'll use unsupported versions on unsupported Windows versions that don't connect to the internet.

My daily driver is a 4th generation quad core i7 with 16GB of memory. It's not eligible for Win11 because it has TPM1.0 and not 2.0, but has plenty of capacity for any applications I want to run.
 

ElectricSpidey

Joined Dec 2, 2017
2,880
Well, dl324 you won't have to worry about Windows 11 for almost 3 years. Support for 10 until October 2025.

My media PC (the one I'm on now) will be 12 years old at that time, so I really don't have a problem with getting a new one, but my work PC will present some problems, so like you I have plans to run it offline.

The only thing I lose on this PC will be an old version of Office I use for my household budget, but I can figure out something.

But my work PC will require at least a 550.00 dollar outlay to upgrade my main work program CorelDraw Graphics Suite, among some other programs that will not run on 11.

I really don't have anything nice to say about Apple products, so I'll just stay mute on that. (passive aggressive much ;))
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,264
Used them for one grad school course. Never bought one. The closed ecosystem was less than appealing.
It’s not more closed than Windows. Apple produces, uses, and supports a great deal of open source software. The development tools for the ecosystem are free, and the cost to be a n official developer is very low.

You can run MacPorts or Homebrew and install just about any Linux software worth installing. The free VirtualBox from Oracle will let you run Windows in a VM, or you can dual boot with Apple supplied tools.

The hardware uses standards-based interfaces, and can run Linux as well (as several of my too-old-for-anything-else Macs are doing, quite well.

It’s not all rosy, of course. As I averred, you pay a premium to buy into the platform. There are sometimes things I imagine I’d like to do but Apple doesn’t support them (in their own OS, I mean). I have found, after long experience, that I can always live without them and if they are worth doing and can work well, eventually they are part of the system.

I have never encountered something that I must do but can’t. It’s always been possible to do what I need and on a platform that often makes me happy to be using because it works so well.

It’s surely not for everyone—and I am not trying to refute your comment because you might have particular and valid things in mind about how you use computers and operating systems—but I find that most talk of being “too closed” is not the result of experience but of surmise—and not correct in general nor in any particular.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,264
Truth being told, I envy the MacOS aesthetics and seamless interface between applications. But I do not like being forced to live in a golden cage, however beautiful it might look on the inside ... I'd rather have the crappy "freedom" that Windows offers instead.

Who knows, maybe I'll eventually get sick and tired of the scummy Windows environment and finally decide to ditch it and learn Linux instead.
I am not sure which cage you are referring to. Could you describe the limitations that lead to that comment?

Linux has its own joys and heartbreak. I use it extensively for servers and utility machines like monitoring probes and controllers, but I don’t use it for desktop computing because I find it very uncomfortable. I don’t like the UI design of the various Window managers, it all feels very bloated and a lot of it feels fragmented in stark contradistinction to the MacOS desktop environment.

That said, I know plenty of people very happy with Gnome, or KDE, or XCFE, or something else. And I am no stranger to X-Window which I use when I must but not with joy in my heart.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,264
I was thinking more along the lines of diverse hardware and software applications.
There is no doubt the Apple hardware is circumscribed. It’s the nature of the beast. Everything not Apple is much, much more than everything Apple. And Apple hardware comes at a premium, though used hardware can be a good deal. But that particular tradeoff is one I accept to get the advantages I greatly enjoy.

As for applications, I don’t feel very restricted at all. In my case, I would say there are more MacOS only titles that I can’t run on my Windows machines but want than Windows only titles I can’t run on the Macs.

There are some, though—usually obscure configurators of specialty apps of some sort. Concerning more major software, like simulators, compilers, and the like, every year there are fewer of those. The move by many vendors to open source tools and libraries makes porting to MacOS cost effective. and there Is a non-trivial customer base for the ports.

So, hardware—it’s a conscious choice, but software? At least for me, I have more trouble living on a Windows platform without software I rely on that is MacOS only than the reverse, and I do have Windows machines for such occasions in any case.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
An Apple product is a lot like a Rolex. A Rolex doesn't keep time any better than a Casio but, Rolex owners sure talk about watches a lot more than the average person.

Apple used to be slick and great for graphics or drawing or making computers feel usable with the GUI. The thing is, Microsoft caught up, Linux was created and caught up. Now, I have little use for a Mac Laptop or desktop. I don't buy iPhones because I've seen how they are made and the people who make them.
Some people buy Apple stuff because they want to be snooty and show off their money, some people are easily up sold by savvy sales people (higher resolution, smoother scrolling, clam shell metal cases (or whatever the hot buzz words are each year)), few people actually "need" to pay the extra for an Apple product for a required app that is only available on Apple.
Apple also has their cashé to maintain with their non-standard connector on the phones (they somehow decided USB C is ok for ipad and laptops but not for phones (maybe in Europe soon but US iPhones have no legal requirement to change). Pretty crappy. They may not even put a USB C on the European iPhone. There is a rumor that they will simply remove all charging ports and go completely wireless charging and Bluetooth.
They also have the non-standard texting app (Messages). Im sure I'll get blowback because it "seems" like it works when exchanging with Android phones but there are non-standard glitches that they have worked into the system to avoid full compatibility. See Google's complaint. The glitches are designed to encourage everyone in your texting circles to use iPhones for full participation. Crappy.

I have an iPad. I use it a lot. It replaced a Samsung tablet that was used a lot too. I only have it because a "Apple fan" gave it to me as a parting gift after a successful consulting gig. The screen is higher resolution and the battery lasts a bit longer. The speed may be faster but I can't tell the difference for things I use (surfing, email, videos, editing images. Having an iPad with the android phone quickly showed the glitches in apple's Message App. I thought there was something wrong with my android phone - it was just the partial integration to aggravate you into getting an iPhone. Nothing wrong with my android phone.

pin the end, I'm not a high performance user and even if I was, I don't really like the pompous behavior of the "Apple fans", especially when they claim "better". On what basis? Cost? no. Speed? So what, nobody pushes a device to the limits anymore. Beauty of the case or high-res display? Not worth it to me.
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
10,227
There are a number of us this side of the Atlantic that grew up with the BBC Micro, and graduated on to the Archimedes, which was WAY ahead of the PC at the time (colour graphics, fonts, WYSIWYG DTP etc). When Acorn gave up on computers to concentrate on being ARM the natural progression was towards Apple rather than Windows.
I'd seen the MAC before, because Apple gave a dozen to the university, and the computer studies department locked them away for only its students to use. Apple found out and said "No, either everyone gets to use them, or you can give them back".

Several years later, when I was choosing which ARM microcontroller to use, I chose NXP because they had development software than ran on my MAC. When the MAC finally became obsolete, I looked at the prices and said "This is getting silly" and bought a HP laptop and installed Linux.

[Edit] Just read @MrSalts post - I too have an iPad and use it to keep my datasheet PDFs; and I also don't think much of Apple's factory conditions.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
10,245
Back in the 1990's Apple was very much into the work conditions for their vendors. I remember in one injection molding company that almost lost a contract because and inspector saw a worker dumping plastic pellets into a hopper very high off the floor without wearing a safety harness of any kind. Apple's inspectors were like that. I don't see any reason that might have changed in the last 10 or 20 years.

Apple was pretty picky about product quality and went to great pains to to get things "right" during the development of products. It was very stressful but resulted in solid products, well, vastly most of the time.

Apple products, especially iPhones are a lot like jewelry in that some people need to be seen carrying them. I prefer Apple's various machines the way I prefer the old beat up compact Chevy that I drive- no need to look under the hood because I can easily find somebody who is competent and honest to do the worrying for me.
 
Top