Why I'm a Mac user

Why I'm a Mac user

By lowededwookie | LowededWookie | 7 Jul 2020


It's pretty easy to pass off Mac users as sheep entrenched in the cult of Apple but that's, at least in my case, not the reality.

For this post to make any real sense you need to know my background and to understand this I'm going to post this video I just found:

I first got into computing when I was about 11 or 12. Our first computer was a Dick Smith Wizard which was more or less a rebadged, rehoused ZX Spectrum which was a really cool little unit back then. I learned BASIC and played a tonne of games but it was a limited platform development wise. Dad went all in with the Wizard. It had a cartridge system but we got the tape drive as well. What was cool was in New Zealand at the time had a radio station that sounded like crap. The reason for this was if you knew the start time you hit record on that station and left it recording until the end time. End time wasn't that important unless except for if the tape needed switching over which was notified on the radio station. The end result was a computer program that you could run with the BASIC cartridge and typing CRUN with the cassette inserted. Freaking amazing stuff back then.

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I'm not sure when we got it but dad upgraded us to the Amiga 2000. The Amiga changed the world. In fact this machine gave us so much technology we take for granted that the very name should be better known than Apple and Microsoft. At a time when Macs were black and white and PCs had different colours only if you changed the screen (in other words it had two colours), the Amiga 1000, 500, and 2000 had 256 colours onscreen from a colour palette of 4096 colours. It was instantly poo pooed by Apple and PC fans because of it and that sucks because no one's laughing at colour screens today. The Amiga 2500 and Amiga 3000 gave us a colour palette of 256,000 colours with 4096 displayed onscreen. Then the AGA chips came out and we ended up with the A1200 and A4000 which gave us the modern colour sets of 16.8 million colours with 263,000 colours onscreen. Today graphics cards largely just process pre-rendered images but the colours aren't too much different. Just to remind you the Amiga 4000 came out in 1992. The Amiga set the standard for today's computers and even still it's really only the iPhones and iPads that are doing anything close to what the Amiga was capable of.

The reason I say this is that the Amiga did amazing things in stuff all memory. I remember running 16 applications (all 32bit I must add) in 2MB (yes Megabytes) of RAM. Given the average iPhone today is running at least 8GB we're talking about huge capabilities with very little resources. The main reason behind all this was the fact that around half of the operating system was on a ROM chip called Kickstart. This chip contained all the main code that was used a lot but didn't need writing to. This saved space on the harddrive (if you had one or you could run the whole lot off 4 floppy disks) and RAM but it also sped so much up. It also offloaded graphics to the GPU and audio to the sound processors so the CPU did little work except when real number crunching was required. As such the machine could do more in 14MHz than many of the PCs running 1GHz processors could do in the day.

Amigas powered the Virtuality systems that bought virtual reality mainstream. While the graphics were crude that system was able to do so much more than the Oculus Rift systems today, especially when paired with the chair or the body suit. Amigas produced the graphics for Babylon 5 which saw the most intense CGI of any sci-fi show to that date.

But the Amiga had two problems that were the reasons I jumped to the Mac platform. Technically superior machines mean nothing if the company is being run by complete tools. What happened to Apple in the 90s is EXACTLY what happened to the Amiga in the 90s. The problem for the Amiga is that they had no Steve Jobs to save them. Instead they had people that didn't understand what they had, listening to people who didn't understand the technology which led to them not knowing how to market the machine. The Amiga didn't have the buying power of Apple either and so getting enough chips to meet demand ultimately led to its downfall.

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Which brings me to 2001. I realised that despite my hopes the Amiga was pretty much a dead horse run into the ground by visionless corporate hacks. I needed to jump before the ship took me down with it and so I looked at my two mortal enemies. Apple and PC. What actually turned me to the Mac was a very rare thing indeed. Buoyed by the idea of the Video Toaster I wanted to get into desktop video. Apple had just released the Ruby iMac DV 450+ and that included a Firewire 400 port. It also shipped with iMovie with it. This came to $3000 something NZD. To do desktop video to the same level as this machine on a Windows PC was going to set me back about $6000 something NZD. It was the rarest of occasions where the Mac was cheaper that drove me to the Mac. I've not looked back since.

I've since weathered the move from MacOS 9 to OSX. PPC to Intel. iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, etc. I'm looking forward to the Apple Silicon switch. But what's driven me to stick with the Mac platform is the same reason I loved (and still do) the Amiga. It's the technology. Apple is doing exciting stuff with computer hardware. Stuff that might have been done by others Apple has done better. If Apple doesn't jump on a technology like others say it should it's not because Apple doesn't think it's a bad idea per se, it's just that the competitors' implementation sucks and Apple isn't ready to release a crap product. That is exactly how I'd do it if I had their prowess. Windows PCs haven't done anything exciting since... well... ever so to me it's not a platform to get excited about. I don't want nice looking games. I want games that force new technologies, and no I don't think more powerful graphics cards are exciting. Most of them go into powering games that aren't really doing anything cool with the processing power, they're just processing more detailed pre-rendered graphics. Where's the games that can do on the fly graphics with randomised levels and super intelligent AI that will frustrate the snot out of you? All that processing power means nothing if you're basically only just making better looking DOOM clones.

But Apple is pushing their own SOCs into their desktop and laptop machines. SOCs that are currently powering tablets to a level that makes them more powerful than 92% of the laptops currently on the market. That's staggering considering the iPad Pro is coming up 3 years old. If that doesn't have Intel packing themselves then they're going to fall into the same trap as Intel just before the iPhone was released. They turned down Apple because they didn't want to retool for the iPhone. Then the iPhone was released and everyone wanted one. Intel was so confident that Apple would then use their processors only to have Apple tell them to sod off. Intel lost the mobile revolution and they'll be in trouble once Apple leaves entirely. The PC market is already dwindling.

Sure this might still sound like I'm nothing more than an Apple sheep but then you'd have missed the point. I follow where the cool technology is. No one is doing what Apple is currently doing and what the Amiga had already done. No one. I worked in IT for 18 years before I gave it all up 4 years ago because I wanted to play with all the cool toys. The only toys I got to play with were the ones I bought. I didn't need to work in a painfully dull system to do that so I left. PCs (which I wrap Windows and Linux under) just aren't doing anything cool in my not so humble opinion. Samsung is trying but they're rushing products to market and are hamstrung by a crap operating system. They need to hurry up and build their own.

If someone comes along and out-Apples Apple then I'm more than willing to jump ship to go where their cool tech is going. The thing is the only company out-Appleing Apple is Apple. So for now I'm staying.

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lowededwookie
lowededwookie

I am also known as Wooden Wookie and The Postman. This blog is more of a general blog of random thoughts shaped by my life.


LowededWookie
LowededWookie

Random access to my brain. This blog has photos by me, words by me, and thoughts by me.

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