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ATPM 8.05
May 2002



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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Trixie McGuire,

Memories of My Life Since Buying an Apple Macintosh 6500/250

I wish I could remember those pre-computer days, but I think I gave up more of my life by purchasing a computer then I did when I gave birth. After years of “Mom, we need a computer,” and months of reading all the tidbits of information on computers, I bought a heavily discounted Macintosh at Sears, even amid all the talk of Apple’s financial problems and possible departure from the computer world.

About that time I remember reading an article in the newspaper business section about the return of the all-in-one computer—and then the iMac was born—and then the iBook. I would tell people if I had invested the money in Apple stock instead of buying a Mac, I would be rich, but then I would have missed the dance.

Through this computer, the family has enjoyed two years of America Online, two years of a local ISP (Networld, Salt Lake City), and now we have two Macs and a year-old Compaq routed up on a cable Internet connection through AT&T. I want to thank Steve Case, founder of America Online, for introducing us to the Internet, but if his original idea was to make the Internet easy, he is missing the mark with his 7.0 village. The village is too darn big, and all people want is access to the outside Web.

Also through this computer, my daughter and I did two years of research for the National History Fair. The first year we did her research on computers and the Internet. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about ARPANET, ENIAC, Ray Tomlinson of e-mail fame, Honeywell, UNIVAC, TCP/IP, Ethernet, the gang at Bell Labs, the abacus, Blaise Pascal, Charles Babbage and his girlfriend Ada, Big Blue started by Hermie Hollerith (who by the way started the big competition buyout fad still going strong today), vacuum tubes, transistors, Texas Instruments, Motorola, operating systems, Mosaic, Netscape, LAN, CPUs, Texas Instruments, Motorola, XEROX, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Apple, Bill Gates, Microsoft, Andrew Groves, Intel, AMD, Lawrence Ellison, Oracle, Ann Winbald, Ester Dyson (whose name I include because I would like a charity-based subscription to her newsletter and an invitation to her elite get together), Jeffrey Bezos, Amazon, Linus Torvalds, Linux, and Jerry Yang of Yahoo!. I have a little homepage just I set up and never finished for the in-laws, after I took an online HTML course.

The next year we did research on satellites and the space race, which is essentially the same research because ARAPNET was started for the defense of our country after the Russians flung that threatening piece of tinfoil—SPUTNIK—into space.

Through the years, besides lusting after an iMac, the only thing I have considering purchasing for the 6500/250 is a Sonnet CPU upgrade card. We are still churning out great work running Mac OS 8.0, only because every time we tried to upgrade to 8.1 the system crashed. Now I figure, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

But if there is a God, and Steve Jobs happens to read this and is swayed by flattery (“I think he is as cute now in suits and long hair as he was in holey blue jeans and long hair”), I would be willing to accept his donation to my children’s education of a shiny new dual-processor G4. And while I am at it, he could throw in one of those high definition 23-inch Cinema Displays that smacks me in the face every time I visit to get info to keep this machine up and running!

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Reader Comments (4)

anonymous · May 1, 2002 - 08:40 EST #1
Great Article. Rave On.
Kevin · May 9, 2002 - 23:52 EST #2
Ms. McGuire,

I read your story with a little bit of misty-eyed reflection. I felt the same way about my old Mac SE about 5 years ago when we decided it was too small to support what we wanted for the family. Only in its heyday, I had to cruise the fledgling cyberspace with Kermit and Prodigy(!) through a 9600 baud modem. Anyway, we replaced it with a beige G3 desktop, later added a PowerMac 7100/80 for my daughter, gave that to my son when we got a Umax SuperMac C600/240 for my daughter, and rounded out the collection with a PowerBook G3 (Lombard) for myself (I use it for my work, since the company for which I work is controlled by the Wintel Borg collective). Now we definitely can't afford a new Mac, much as I desperately want to use Mac OS X. (Can't run it "effectively" on any of our machines.)

Anyhow, I'm writing to you to recommend that you continue to try to upgrade the OS on your machine. Its essentially the same as my daughter's SuperMac (except you don't need FWB toolkit to use the CD drive), has the same ROM, and all our machines are currently running Mac OS 9.1. I've found it to be snappier and more stable than Mac OS 8.0, and I think you will notice a difference. We've even put an ATI graphics board and Ethernet card into the SuperMac to extend its lifetime. Have you tried adding more memory to it? My daughter's machine is maxed out with 144 MB RAM, but it really purrs and can still run most of the newer games coming out. I know Apple wants you to replace it with another, newer Apple computer, but it seems to me that if its still useful, why upgrade? $300 for more memory and Mac OS 9.1 is much cheaper than a new iMac or iBook. (On the other hand, those machines really don't cost that much, especially compared to what the 6500 cost brand new.)

That's my unsolicited $0.02 worth.

BTW, thanks for the great article.

"The U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself." --Ben Franklin
Ken · May 10, 2002 - 00:21 EST #3
I, too, bought my first Mac (Performa 6360) at Sears. It was a good deal. My wife said, "But everyone says there is no software for the Mac. Shouldn't we buy a mainstream computer?" I did not relent. I said, "No, I have heard the Windows horror stories. I want a computer that works." We are both happy we bought the Mac.

The 6360 is now my in-laws' computer, much to the chagrin of my brother-in-law--the Mac-hating Computer Science guy. I have a Umax C600 and a C500. I would also like a new G4. I keep waiting for faster bus speeds.

Enjoyed your article.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · May 10, 2002 - 13:09 EST #4
Kevin - your Lombard shouldn't have a terribly rough time running OS X. It's just one model below the Pismo which is what I own, and it sails along with OS X quite nicely. Granted, I want to upgrade the RAM--it has 256 megabytes at the moment. I intend to max it out at 1 gigabyte, but I'm not desperate, yet, and I'm seeing if RAM prices get off this high ride they're currently on.

What I'm trying to say is, if you can max out the RAM in your Lombard, I suspect you'd be rather pleased at how well OS X runs. My understanding that plenty of RAM influences its performance as much or more than a faster processor.

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