This Is The Mac That Started Things For Me

The Macintosh Plus computer was the 3rd model in the Macintosh line. Launched in 1986 with a retail price of US$2,600, the ‘Mac Plus’ shipped with 1MB RAM, an external SCSI peripheral bus and could run System 7.

When the original Macintosh launched in 1984 I was a college student studying for A-Levels (Design, English Language & Literature, Theatre Studies, since you ask) and a $2,500 computer was way off my radar. By the time the Macintosh Plus was launched in 1986 I was entering university, and Apple's vision of a computer for the rest of us made much more sense to me. I first encountered the Mac Plus when a much more computer-savvy friend invested in one to boost his programming skills and help with his maths degree. To say that I was bowled over is an understatement. The computers that I'd encountered before were intriguing but opaque beasts that talked in arcane command-line languages and output primitive graphics (if at all). Here was an entirely different kind of device, one that could be switched on and whose operations could be divined from looking, touching, and observing—an appliance for computing, or in Steve Jobs' words "a bicycle for the mind".

 I adored that computer even though it wasn't mine, and indeed I took ever opportunity to use it, borrow it, and look after it when my friend went away for vacations. I practically lived in HyperCard (which, truth be told, I still miss), designing covers for my audiocassettes, cataloging my music collection, setting up contact databases and printing them out for my paper organiser, and even programming rudimentary games and multimedia. A few years later I even bought the same Mac Plus second-hand and designed my first actual seven-inch single sleeve using MacDraw II.

I've owned plenty of Macs since then—in fact I've never owned any other kind of PC—and they've all been important in one way or another, but the Mac Plus is what started it for me. The spirit of empowered, humane, personal computing that little machine embodied is what drew me to work in design, education and technology, and what makes me continue to believe in their potential for transforming human lives.