I was having a conversation today with my buddy Marc about the new laptop I’m getting, and I mentioned that I’ve always migrated my data from computer to computer before, but that leads to a build-up of old and unused applications, library data, and other stuff. I decided that with this new laptop, I’m going to do a clean slate, and only install what I’m actually using. All my old data from the previous system would be stored on a separate disk, just in case I need it.
During the conversation, it occurred to me that I wasn’t shore just how many Apple computers I’ve owned, so I decided to figure that out, in blog form. What follows is a lengthy retelling of my personal computers over the years. If this sort of stuff bores you, you should probably skip this post.
I purchased my first Apple computer in 2004. Up until that time, I had been a Windows guy.
I am oversimplifying. At first, I was a TRS-80 guy, then a TI-99/4a guy, then a Commodore 128 guy. Next, I was an MS-DOS guy, then a Windows 3.1 guy. From there, I used Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME (Millennium Edition), and Windows XP.
In September of 2003, my Windows XP installation crashed and burned. It was bad. I lost something like sixty gig of personal data. This was my turning point. I was fed up with Windows, and didn’t want to deal with it at home any more. I installed Red Hat Linux 9 on a new hard drive, and that became my desktop for a while. I kept using Windows at work, naturally, because that’s what Mr. Company dictated for our workstations. I still have a screen capture from the time of the Great Crash. It was a message on September 3rd of 2003, in which my former roommate John said, “iiiiit awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaits youuuuuuuuu…..” with a link to the Apple product page for the Powerbook. I wasn’t ready, yet, but he was right- it was waiting.
In August of 2004, I bought my first ever Apple product- the third generation of iPod, the last one before the ClickWheel was adopted. It was around this time that I realized that I needed to run iTunes, Dreamweaver, and some Adobe software, and I couldn’t get them to run properly on Linux. I built a new tiny Windows box just to run those programs, and the Windows creep began.
The timing of these next bits are not absolutely certain- I know the sequence of events, but don’t have any record of exactly when things happened. So I’m taking a few liberties and guessing at some of this timeline:
By late 2004, I was frustrated with having multiple PCs, and I bought my second Apple product, a 17 inch aluminum Powerbook G4. I joked at the time that I bought this laptop computer as an accessory for my iPod, but it was actually a pretty true statement. This was my first ever laptop computer. It was gorgeous and I enjoyed it, but a 17 inch aluminum monster wasn’t really all that portable. I was also frustrated- the laptop was not as powerful as similarly priced desktop computers, and I felt like something was lacking.
Still, it was a good machine and transitioned my computing world into the Powerbook. The Windows and Red Hat desktop computers went away, and I no longer had two monitors, two keyboards, two mice at my desk. (Yes, yes, I know that a KVM switch could have solved that, but I liked to keep them separated.)
In 2005, the Mac Mini was announced. I was still a little resistant to a laptop being my primary machine, so when they announced a tiny adorable computer the size of a stack of CD jewel-boxes, I was hooked and I grabbed one of those. Away went the Powerbook. I loved this machine- it was the least crashy computer I have ever used, before or since. My only issue was that the hard drive was topped out at 80 Gig, and there was no upgrade possible other than external plug-in hard drives. Also, I was using an older Apple external monitor and I was annoyed with how many cables I had allowed to gather.
Naturally, when Apple announced their new Intel iMacs in January of 2006, I was all kinds of excited. It had a larger hard drive, a faster processor, and it was just pretty to look at. On March 1st of 2006, I bought the 20 inch version of one of these chunky white beauties, and I was super excited to have everything back under one plug with my third Apple computer.
Ah, but the gadget lust is a cruel mistress, and when Apple introduced their new 13 inch jet black MacBook, I was enthralled. That little black beauty became my secondary machine, but it was still too small in strength and hard drive space to be my everything-computer. I still used a desktop for my main stuff. By this point in time, the desktop was constantly on, and I left it running so that I could connect to it remotely from work.
The 20 inch iMac held me for three years, but in 2009 the design changed yet again, and the new aluminum body iMacs were just amazing. In March of 2009, I bought a 24 inch iMac, with 4 gig of ram and a whopping 1 Terabyte hard drive. Surely, this was the height of luxury! I was sure I would stick with the iMac forever. At work, I was connecting an ssh tunnel to my iMac so that I could listen to my music collection. This was bliss.
Fast forward to the middle of 2011- I had sold my condo, and I was staying in my brother’s house while I figured out my next moves. My three years in Germany was on the horizon for me, but I didn’t know it yet. What I did know was that I simply didn’t have enough space in my brother’s spare bedroom for a 24 inch iMac, so I made the switch back to a laptop late that summer.
I missed having an always-on machine that I could shell into, but I got over it pretty quickly. For the first time ever, a laptop computer was my primary machine. It was my only machine. I moved everything onto that one laptop, and used it with delight. The technology had finally reached the point I wanted, where a laptop computer didn’t seem under-powered or slow compared to desktop alternatives.
When the move to Germany came up, I was doubly glad that I had a laptop. I lived in a hotel for the first three weeks, and I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to schlep a 24 inch iMac to Germany and set it up in a hotel.
During my time in Germany, I purchased a new Mac Mini, but this one was set up to be my entertainment center. It was connected to my television, and I used it for video and music only. I sold it to a friend before I left Germany in 2014.
The laptop I’m using now was purchased on November 12, 2013. I grabbed this during one of my visits back to the US from Germany, because the MacBooks had gone to solid state drives, and everything was So! Fast! that I couldn’t resist. This laptop has 16 GB of RAM and a 1 Terabyte SSD. This machine carried me through the rest of my time in Germany. It traveled the world with me, and it’s actually still a pretty great laptop.
Apple did it again, though, and they updated their laptop to be thinner, faster, and 87% more nifty. I have decided after months of deliberation to pick up a new MacBook Pro in the new “Space Grey” color with a newfangled Touch Bar.
For those of you keeping count, this new laptop will be my ninth Apple computer in the last thirteen years. That doesn’t include a multitude of iPods, iPads, and iPhones. It also doesn’t include my Airport routers and Time Capsule, or the various Apple mice or keyboards I’ve owned. It didn’t seem like that many to me until I wrote it all down here.
So… does anyone want to buy a late 2013 model MacBook Pro?
What’s your computer preference? Windows, Mac, Linux, ChromeOS, or something else?