[My Thoughts]

My Favourite Computer, An Old Mac


A picture of a Mac Classic II

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 it.

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.

An image of browsing Gopherpedia on the Mac

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.