Saturday, September 8, 2007

...Going to Party Like It's 1989...

After many many years of Windows purgatory, I recently purchased on of the new 17" MacBook Pros. Last several days have been a lot of fun, and definitely a nostalgia tour.

I haven't owned an Apple since my trusty Apple ][+ WAY back in the day (my first computer). I believe it was one of the very first Apple ][+'s sold in the state of Florida. Somehow persuaded my parents to give me a loan to get it ($2000 at the time was a lot of coin!), but it led to all sorts of good work through junior high and high school, teaching community college courses in BASIC, etc. Eventually sold the beast to get an Atari 800 (far better for gaming and game programming...amazing computer back in the day).

I was a Mac user through college, but was never able to afford my own. In grad school, my good friend Terry was going on and on about how amazing the new NeXT computers were. They were also insanely expensive. Finally in 1989, he convinced me to take the plunge with the new NeXT slabs. At the time, my campus and research group was heavily Unix-based, with everything from VT-100 terminals (real ones) to the just emerging DEC workstations for those lucky enough. I managed to persuade my advisor to move our lab from VT-100s and a couple shared Macs to NeXT machines.

At the time, the NeXT machines were amazing. I figured they were at least 10 years ahead of their time. Now, 18 years later, in playing with OS X on the MacBook Pro, it's clear that it was at least 15 years ahead of it's time.

Managed to stay with NEXTSTEP through 1998, then VERY painfully forced myself to switch to Windows NT (was in a corporate environment by then and it was too difficult to work with others). At the time, one of the more difficult things I had ever done.

Now, 9 years later, it is very surreal to pop open Terminal.app and fire up emacs and fiddle with NetInfo from the command line. The surface is a whole lot prettier, but the core is the NEXTSTEP that I never quite got over.

As an aside, I'm loving this new box. Using Parallels, able to run Vista in a virtual machine under OSX so maintaining the best of both worlds. OSX and the Mac apps are of course gorgeous. As I get up and going, I'll post some lessons learned for others that may be considering switching. Also, some tricks to keep all these various environments in sync with one another (virtual machines are awesome, but it is really hard to keep them aligned).

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