Amongst my community of graphic design nerds, there is a great deal of discussion regarding the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer. As you might expect from the geniuses at Apple Computer, their current website has a world-class presentation–that provides people like me–with a reminiscent stroll down gigabyte lane.
In addition to a video and a timeline illustrating the beige box’s first thirty years, the viewer cannot help but think longingly back to their first Mac experience.
In 1984, I was fresh out of college and working for Selame Design Associates–in Newton Lower Falls Massachusetts (where the Mac’s birth was unnoticed).
For typography, when we weren't using rubdown type (yes, rubdown type) to create corporate marks for national brands (Amoco, Kodak, Pinkerton, and Goodwill) we were sending out type orders (‘marked-up’ paper manuscripts) to neighborhood typesetting houses.
It was in 1985, that one of the more cutting-edge typesetting firms (Serif & Sans, Newton Massachusetts), introduced as to Quip technology. A Quip machine was the precursor to the (recently outdated) fax machine.
To “quip,” you would carefully wrap your single-page, letter-size manuscript around a roller (drum). A Quip machine at the typehouse was dialed through a standard telephone line, and once connected, a crudely rendered copy of your original manuscript was received, approximately 20 minutes later. Of course, before any typesetting could be accomplished, the manuscript need to be rekeyed on the other end.
I got my first peek at a Macintosh in 1986, while a senior designer at McCormack & Dodge, a subsidiary of Dun & Bradstreet Corporation. The new machine resided in the office of creative group leader, Sam Savage. In addition to fulfilling the role of hi-tech eye candy, I am not sure what the machine was actually used for.
I do know that in off-hours, Sam would engage in a word-based fantasy games. There were no graphics, only text.
You would type in commands such as:
“walk forward three steps”
The computer would confirm the action and document its move.
“walk to the right, six steps”
“draw your sword…
Sounds like fun, right? Well, it was all new. And oh, so exciting!
Following a couple of years at McCormack & Dodge, I left the corporate world (with a surly band of marketing renegades) and joined the newly created high-tech public relations and marketing firm, McGlinchey & Paul Associates, where I became the design director.
When asked what type of computer I preferred, of course I requested a Macintosh (a Mac Plus with 40 MB external hard drive, was the current offering).
Please understand, that since everyone else in the firm was a writer and required little computer horsepower, they were provided with IBM PC ‘clone’ workstations–which cost about half as much as my fancy-pants Macintosh.
It was when I asked for a larger monitor (black & white vertical, one-page), that I first received my prima donna reputation. As cute and friendly as the early Macs were, the screens were only slightly bigger than a scuba mask. You could basically design about a quarter of a page at a time. Talk about scrolling!
Since then, I have many Macintoshes to my name–each one getting significantly better. There were a few times during these first thirty years that Mac’s days appeared to be numbered.
A graphic designer and a PC?
Fortunately, Uncle Steve returned to the helm and righted the listing ship!
Happy birthday MacIntosh!
I wish you many more.
One disturbing note concerning the Macintosh timeline.
According to Apple’s Macintosh ‘use graphic,’ the graphic design profession appears to be shrinking. Perhaps, others have adopted my newly coined title, Business Communications Architect. – Doug.