When I was a young child, my father made me a 286 or a 386 DOS box. It’s hard to recall all the details; I can barely visualize what it was like. It wasn’t 40 years ago, but damn close. I remember the blue screen interface where you could press a letter key and launch an application. It was a beige box, not a tower, horizontal, almost like the HTPC’s we just seemingly left behind a few years ago. Originally, my monitor sat on top of it, but I wasn’t tall enough to see the screen, so later, we got a longer cable and were able to place the box on the side of the desk. Eventually, a dot matrix printer would go on top of the machine. We mostly played Tetris and this Star Trek game where you could warp around a 2D map and get smoked by Klingons, sort of like what would later become Minesweeper.

At first, there was no mouse, webcam, stereo speakers, or microphone. No vibrant widescreen, and the resolution was sub-1000 pixels; by far. It was a beige box and a squarish tube CRT monitor, with seemingly fewer colors than a large box of Crayola Crayons. A spinning hard drive, a large floppy drive, and 24.4 baud modem, and that was about all it had to offer. At the time, it was a lot.

I remember getting many games and shareware from this pop-up type flee market at our local fairgrounds. Dealers were shilling floppies out of bins, like records in a crate. These little plastic squares with dotty color labels had such bad quality by today’s standards that you couldn’t hand in a printed-out document like that, anywhere, even to the government.

At the time, I remember going to a few physical storefronts for computer gear, something you’d see in the memories of the Mr.Robot TV show. Also, we had stores like Computer City and, eventually, CompUSA. CompUSA is where I would eventually buy my first Mac, a PowerMac G4.

When I was in high school, I got involved in the arts; I think I saw my first really powerful Mac around this time. This must have been around the time the iMac was first announced, though that was off my radar. My neighbor, who was a webmaster/graphic designer around the late 90s, had a G3. One of those Aqua-colored plastic towers. It was smooth and colorful, like a futuristic spaceship. And he had a Zip drive, a feature I would later always think about for its presence in the design community, but one that I never really saw in my day.

Not long after, I spent money on photo and video cameras. Lots of gear over those years. I was learning about audio production, photo, and video, and starting my journey making things on the web (with my neighbor, a post-college adult). He ended up hiring me, and all through high school, I began contracting with him. Much of my work was paying off software that he would buy for me and let me work off, adding things to my studio. I was legit awesome. I assure you, money was making its way to those software companies, it wasn’t piracy, but maybe not fully qualified by the EULAs. It gave me new things to learn, giving me more capabilities. This would be the start of my learning and exploration journey with the Mac. I was constantly was tinkering; I made projects with my cameras, my microphones, my mouse, my keyboard, and my Mac.

When I graduated high school, I took some classes at community college, filled out my portfolio, and applied to art school. I was accepted for film, and I went for it. I started mid-winter, following my first year out of high school.

That first semester at art school – right away, other students saw my experience with web and media arts outside of filmmaking, and they encouraged me to join the ranks of Interactive Media majors. I declared a few semesters in, and the journey began.

Art school was glacial. I took classes in pretty much every department. Graphic Design, Typography, Motion Graphics, Sound Design, Furniture, and Sculpture: nothing was off limits. Everything, every idea, was put through its paces on my Mac. I was learning how to create work in every format. I was a master at Mac workflows. Often, my Mac would fill up, and I would have to be a master at system management. This trend would grow later to find a new purpose in my life; sometimes, running a Mac (at scale) is a job, too. Even many of my foundational drawing classes got some love from my Mac. The Mac was everywhere in my life and always with me.

Undoubtedly, this is when I noticed the cultural presence of the Mac started to grow. Sure, at design school, we always thought the Mac marketing materials were ultra on point (during the Steve Jobs era). But this is different; the Mac was going beyond the tool for (initially) graphic designers, (then) filmmakers, and musicians; now, this industry of information workers was beginning to grow the use of the Mac. The cultural melting pots like art schools were where we sorted that out for the rest of the world. We were powered by coffee (and tea) and glowing Apple logos.

There wasn’t a lot of software engineering at art school. There was programming, but it was stemming from different roots. When I took a break from school for a few years and cut my teeth as a web developer, I grew those software engineering roots close to many actual computer scientists. I realized that designers, filmmakers, and art creators gravitate toward the Mac because, visually and compatibly, it was superior for those workflows; there was an enormous community that uses the Mac because of the foundation that runs the whole show, UNIX.

We didn’t know it back then, but that was a huge cultural understanding around UNIX that would strengthen so many projects because of its elegance and simplicity. In those early days, before the OSS boom and Github, you have to realize we didn’t have the abstraction of the internet like we have now. The Mac was our point of presence. There was no cloud, barely any home or home-studio networks. Apple had just released the first Airport. The Mac, sneakernet, external hard drives, and sometimes college network shares were the only way we shared ideas. There were blogs and music sharing, but the proliferation of ideas was starting to grow. Wikipedia was incomplete and very raw at that point.

During those few years off from college, I was cutting my teeth as a WordPress developer. I also did a lot with music production and DJing. That continued for several years, but in 2020, I wanted to complete my degree, so I went back (as a senior), and began wrapping it up. Little did I know there would be a pandemic, and I would find my creative process change with a new and personal connection to my Mac. That art school passion; I took a few years off, but the internet had changed when I returned. It wasn’t just an explosion; we had a multiplicity of cultural abstractions on the internet, and the Mac was deep in the process. Things like YouTube landed, social media had taken over, and information was overly available. It wasn’t even about what the Mac could do with its native software suite or premium ones. It wasn’t about connected hardware anymore; everyone just used WiFi. Speed and power didn’t affect us as much; it was sufficient, unlike the old days; today, we can focus on the experience. Moore’s law was almost meaningless for the average consumer. I think I started to realize that the changes from a Mac were moving the needle in very different ways for the last few years.

Culturally, we have been moving so fast with the boom of the internet and now social and streaming media. Here we are in 2020, at wit’s end in every way as a society. Medical scientists are scrambling for a vaccine, everyone is fighting for toilet paper, and I just reentered a four-year BFA program as a senior, and my Mac stepped up and solidified my work across that complex world. I was working full time, I was taking part-time credits, and yes, I was participating in culture, even though we couldn’t go indoors or meet with people. My Mac provided the horsepower and aesthetic presence to help me design and develop my presentations and projects and contribute to the teams.

I finished my degree about a year later and confirmed that I was done with school for a while. I wanted to drive a career for a while. By this time, I was deep into DevOps, a role combining backend development and system administration. I successfully jump-started that with a new company about a year after getting my degree and found myself with a new team of Mac carriers. I thought that was super fortunate, but maybe not as uncommon as it sounds in software engineering.

It cannot be understated – through the years, from high school with my first Mac, to college with several Macs, the in-between times – professionally working with Mac, and now in the mid part of my career with M-Series Mac; almost 100% of my work has been informed or produced entirely on a Mac.

I have dabbled with many other platforms: Windows Desktops, Linux Desktops, lots and lots of containers, Kubernetes clusters, and virtual Machines, but “my work” has exclusively come from this platform, the Mac.

The Mac has given me directions when I move about the world. It has been with me between point A and point B. It has grown my projects that I have grown afar on the internet somewhere or nestled next to my basement home lab. The Mac has been my tool of choice, not only because it has extended my reach but because it has made it easy to leverage the right systems from where I am at in the moment.

Here we are, the 40-year anniversary of the Mac. While I have not owned every generation since the initial launch 40 years ago, I feel I have worked on them all, or almost every single one. I have known the Mac for a long time, and we know each other well. The Mac has always felt like it raises the bar and levels my human potential. I am always on the edge of my seat to hear that one more thing every so often. Not often enough that we can expect it, but when it happens, we know it’s a new era.

It has been quite the journey. With the launch of Apple’s adventure in spatial computing and a new year, I honestly sometimes cannot believe just how capable this 3-year-old machine I am writing this on still is. I previously said that I think Moore’s law is dead for many people – considering what these M-Series Macs can do. It feels like every day I work on my MBP, I continue to show the law doesn’t affect us anymore. These M-Series processors are emblematic examples of one of Apple’s greatest achievements, and I believe the Vision Pro will be another great showing of opportunity. The more I work on these systems, the more I break free of the past limitations. Every day I use the Mac, I am reminded less of what it can’t do and just glide along into the next idea. With a click of the keyboard, a swipe of the mouse, or a pinch in thin air, every day I cannot believe that the Mac has been able to accomplish so much. It just feels familiar, always exciting, and inspirational. I would be blessed to experience another 40 years of the Mac and look forward to trying.