My Favourite Computer, An Old Mac
This Macintosh Classic II wasn't the best computer of its day, it wasn't even
the best Mac available at the time, but 30 years on and as its second owner
it has unexpectedly become one of my favourite computers.
The Classic II sits on a desk in the corner of my living room, just
beside my main front window. It takes up a small amount of space, is
unassuming, and always looks happy, ready to serve me whenever I call on
With a heavy clunk of the Mac's power switch it turns on and as soon as the
screen comes to life I am greeted with a smiling Mac, an icon bearing a
strong resemblance to the computer itself. The Mac proceeds to quickly boot
into Mac OS 7.1 in almost total silence thanks to a modern replacement fan
and a ZuluSCSI hard disk.
I have no nostalgia for this machine, I don't remember these from childhood
and didn't get to experience the classic Mac OS until 2015 for the first time. I
can look at this computer from a modern perspective without nostalgia and
appreciate it for what it is.
This Mac was designed to be a useful machine, a companion when you needed
it, but to leave you alone when you didn't. When the power is switched off
the machine is truly off, no background updates, noises, or other nonsense occurs.
This Mac has no form of notification system built in, it never begs for your
attention and its applications never try to distract you from what you are
doing, begging you to look at them instead. If I get distracted while using
this Mac the fault lies squarely on me, not the computer and not the
programs running on it.
This Mac is unchanging in a world where things change by the minute. It will
never receive another software update and is thoroughly obsolete, but it's
comforting to have something that you know will stay the same forever,
remaining in a known state every time you return to it.
When using this Mac I don't have to worry about my data being stolen or
being spied on. What happens between the Mac and myself stays between
us. I can tell it my thoughts and my secrets without wondering if it's going to
share them with others, or with corporations.
I have total control over this computer, no one else can tell it what to do and
the computer makes no real attempt to stop me from misbehaving. It is
thoroughly documented with complete schematics available and every single
system call documented in great detail.
Surprisingly this Mac can still play with the modern world, at least a little
bit. I can load Wikipedia via gopher, I can read Hackernews, I can edit my
website and manage my servers from it, I can even chat with friends on it
via IRC. It's not much, but it's something and it allows me to be productive
whether I be typing a document, or writing a program in Think Pascal.
Above all this computer allows me to step back, take a break, and relax from
the stresses of my life and the modern world. I appreciate this computer for
what it is and what it provides me, not what it was or could have provided
me in the past.
For now I will finish writing this post, upload it, turn off the Mac, and when I need it
again it'll still be sitting in the corner waiting for me.