January 27, 2014

Starting my engineering career in the mid-1980s, desktop computers were just starting to appear in general offices but were designed for a single, specific, purpose. I learned to schematic capture circuits using Daisy System workstations running a flavour of Unix called Daisy-DNIX. IBM Personal Computers were around but were used for a single job such as programming logic devices using ABEL. Data was generally accessed using VAX terminals. Documents and technical specifications were prepared by hand and typed, by secretaries.

For me that world changed when some far-sighted manager introduced a small number of Macintosh computers to prepare technical documentation using the desktop publishing package Ready,Set,Go!’.

Welcome to Macintosh

(It’s worth pointing out that all the images in this post were created on a Macintosh in the late 1980s and I can still open those files. This is more than can be said of the email files from my first Windows PC)

For the first time I was using a computer system that made me ask questions like I wonder if I can just do this?” or could I use this to make one of these?”. I used a Macintosh to create the order of service for my wedding. I used a Macintosh to create the order of service for my brother’s ordination service, spending hours drawing a Celtic cross in MacDraw. Coupled with a Apple LaserWriter I wrote beautiful documents, made drawings, played games, and carried out calculations all on one device that was intuitive but appeared far more powerful than its diminutive size suggested.

MacDraw by craiglea123, on Flickr

I’m under no illusions; the desktop revolution would have happened without Macintosh but it would have been very different.

Computing Power

Fast forward to today and the Macintosh platform is vastly more powerful but is clearly derived from that same heritage. I still find myself asking I wonder if I can just do this?” and marvelling at the tools and software that produce great photographs, family videos, social communication and much more.


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