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Thirty years of Apple computers

By Dave Menendez
Sunday, April 2, 2006, at 3:17 PM

Summary: Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the founding of Apple Computer. Herein are my own insignificant thoughts on the matter

Naturally I’m disappointed that I let ZedneWeb lie fallow during the months of February and March, but I’m equally annoyed that I didn’t post anything yesterday, even though I told myself in advance that I shouldn’t let the day go by unnoted.

Yesterday, in addition to being April Fools Day, was the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Apple Computer. Most of my formative computer moments were on machines they produced. My first taste of programming came in third grade (!), programming Logo on an Apple II. A few years later, my father brought home a Macintosh SE, and I’ve been a Mac user ever since.

I won’t bore you with tales about how much things have changed since then. A quick summary: the SE came with a 9-inch, black and white monitor, 1 MiB of RAM (later expanded to 4 MiB), and an astoundingly capacious 20 MB hard disk. (Back then, the idea of a hard disk was unfamiliar. It wasn’t unusual for people to mistakenly refer to 3½" floppies as “hard disks” because they had a hard plastic case, unlike the then-more-common 5¼" floppies.) The processor was a Motorola 68000 running at a respectable 8 MHz.

For the most part, I’ve remained a happy Apple user since then. I wasn’t too happy when Apple discontinued the cloning project and cancelled OpenDoc, but I can understand the desire to focus. Similarly, the decision to move to Intel chips annoys me—mostly because Intel is still using a godawful instruction set and little-endian order—but I can understand why they chose that route. (And it’s not like I program in assembly language that often. Or ever.)

Even the decision to use DRM in the iTunes music store doesn’t bother me that much. Yes, it restricts my ability to use the music I paid for in ways that don’t necessarily benefit anyone, but the alternative was no music store at all. It isn’t as though Apple is forcing anyone to use it, either. The iPod and iTunes still play unprotected MP3s and AACs that you’ve ripped from CDs or obtained from other sources. (They Might Be Giants, for example, sell unprotected MP3s of their songs.) Besides, you are allowed to burn CDs with the music you bought.

Where is Apple headed now? I don’t know. But I bet it’s somewhere interesting.