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ATPM 18.05
May 2012





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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Tom Bridge,

From the Darkest Hour

15 years ago, in the midst of Apple s darkest days, I became an IT guy. I went to work for Denison University’s Help Desk as a front line tech. The iMac was still a gleam in an engineer’s eye, Mac OS 9 was the law of the land, and things had never been more bleak. The cover of Wired magazine that summer was an Apple logo amid a crown of thorns. Pray, it exhorted the reader.

It’s hard to believe that those days are foreign to so many users now. The days when to be a Mac user was to be among a small community hellbent on passionate use of their computers were a fine and interesting time when the hardware was beige, and the light gray of the Finder was a far cry from the polished brushed aluminum of Mac OS X. The Macs of 1997 were probably some of the worst that Apple ever produced. I know the all-in-one Performas that graced the labs at Denison were certainly fairly finicky, and they were very much awful to work on. My own Power Mac 8500/120 left a gash on my hand when I did some creative hardware disassembly hoping to replace the hard drive.

Steve Jobs would return to Apple in November of that year, and the turnaround was underway. Mac OS X was not far off, and the change to the Unix-backed platform was a period of adjustment for users, for programmers, for administrators, and for the marketplace.

It’s amazing to think about the incredible evolution of the Mac in that lifespan, from beige to Bondi blue; from black plastic to titanium to aluminum and back to black plastic. More than that, Apple’s focus toward the mobile environment has changed the appeal of Macs and how they have developed.

These days, I support more Macs than I ever knew I’d see in business 15 years ago. We’ve helped 40–50 businesses over the last few years integrate Macs into their daily lives, unboxing so many MacBooks, PowerBooks, iMacs, Power Macs and Mac Pros as part of the process. As Macs have grown in the corporate environment, the tools to weave them into the fabric of the business have grown, too. Tools like InstaDMG, Carbon Copy Cloner, Munki, and InterMapper make it easier to setup groups of Macs, keep them backed up on schedule, add updates and deploy applications, and keep the network straight.

A decade and a half has passed, whole new architectures exist for the Mac, and a whole new era of good mobile devices were crafted from thin air, but the Mac remains a stalwart of good computing. Here’s to many more.

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