As I entered my teenage years, way back in early part of the mid-80s (gosh, that makes me feel old), my parents got my brother and I the family’s first ever personal computer. These were not common place in households at the time, the Vic 20 and Commodore 64 were barely making their presence known in Australian households at the time. For us, our Christmas present was the Spectrum ZX-81, having a whopping 1KB of memory.
Ironically, this Christmas present didn’t last terribly long, and was replaced within two months by a Commodore 64 as we’d realised quickly the Spectrum just wasn’t capable of much. We bought add-on devices for the Commodore 64, such as the 5.25″ floppy drive, it made loading our games and applications so much more speedy compared to loading from tape.
A few years later, I bought myself the Amiga 500. Sadly I couldn’t afford a monitor and had to continue using a TV as my screen, finances didn’t stretch to that luxury as a poor student, but my latest tech purchase blew my mind. Its storage was more compact at 3.5″ and far more speedy, its graphics were incredible, and set me on the path towards an interest in digital graphics design.
As a university student I would move on from the Amiga to the PC, though the platform had been abandoned by Commodore which had fallen into bankruptcy by this point. The PC offered me the ability to truly customise my experience, though I was never greatly enamoured with MS-DOS/Windows. As a Computer Science student I recall in my first year having to develop a basic assembly language program to draw a graphical step, mind blowing I know. Unfortunately for me, at the time graphical memory was reallocated due to memory constraints, I hit that memory location with my programming and promptly manage to cause the operating system to overwrite the hard disk’s file table. Had to spend the rest of that day re-installing our computer, ugh.
I continued to use PCs at home for about 10 years after I had started working, every year going through the process of re-building my PC, not for the reason already mentioned but rather due to the well-known reason that Windows slows down over time and this geek prefers his speed. Come 2009 I’d had enough and decided to invest in my first Mac, a MacBook Pro. I had first toyed with Macs when a university student, primarily because these computers were always available as other university students didn’t understand how to use them – lucky me!
For me, Macs have long been a great investment despite their higher upfront cost. I find that compared to Windows I am able to get things done quicker on a Mac than on Windows, even with improvements that have been made to Windows 10. For one, the ability to develop tools using Automator has always been useful. As a web developer in the past I have used this to prepend/append dates to files within Finder depending upon my need, or to bulk webify filenames to ensure they met naming conventions. I had no equivalent on Windows and was forced to do such things manually. The forthcoming update to macOS brings a more powerful tool originally from the iOS platform, I have loved using this on my iPhone/iPad Pro to quickly achieve things like setting calendar appointments, resize & crop images and launch apps by saying their name.
Platforms at very much a matter of preference, my father is firmly in the PC and Android camp, whilst I fall into the Mac and iOS. All have their benefits, their pitfalls, their fanbois and articles pointing out how the next release version could improve upon the last. One thing is for certain, without the competition there would likely be far less reason to innovate.