March 13

Remembering the Good Ol’ Days
A very special tale of innocence lost and lessons learned

Fond Memories of the 20th Century
Me and some friends at a party in 1989 to celebrate purchasing my very first Mac, pictured bottom right. In the background, the Red Baron drops the A-bomb to end the war on drugs. This is the true meaning of the 20th century. (Click to enlarge.)

by David Nagel
Senior Producer

There was a time not too long ago when things were just better. It was a time of innocence, of enlightenment—an age in which people of all races lived as one in a world that made sense. I refer, of course, to the twentieth century. Now that was a century a man could be proud of, when I was O.K., you were O.K. and the whole freakin' system was O.K. Food was fast, and computers were slow. Morals were high, and RAM requirements were low. That was a century you could set your clock to.

If you weren't born in the twentieth century, you couldn't possibly understand what I'm talking about. You are the product of a meaner age. But for those of you who were there—and there are fewer of us everyday—the differences are striking. Why, when I just think of all the things that are wrong with the current century, it makes me wonder why I ever left the last one (higher pay, as I recall, but that's not important).

All kinds of things angry up my blood these days. War. Murder. Poverty. Former pop star Ricky Martin. I mean, we never had this kind of stuff in my century. You people ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

But let me tell you what's got me really mad now. It's that 1 GHz Athlon and the 1 GHz Pentium III. It doesn't really bother me that Motorola didn't do it first. I'm not a big fan of theirs anyway. Does it bother me that it wasn't the Alpha first? Sure, but we all know what happened there. What bothers me is the obsession with clock speed.

As a true and faithful Mac follower from the early days, I'm used to the argument that clock speed doesn't mean everything. But 1 GHz? How do you argue with that? We all expect clock speeds to leapfrog over each other from one manufacturer to the next. That happens every few months. On top of that, I was fully expecting that the G4's superior architecture would carry it through this next leapfrog—probably maintaining dominance over 750 MHz Intel systems. But now that hope is lost, and I'm left wondering when the PowerPC partnership will ever find the time to catch up. The fact is that 500 MHz is more ground than anybody's ever had to make up in clock speed, and I'm not convinced Motorola's in ay position to do it before the next CISC-side speed increase. And who knows whether the involvement of IBM will help anything.

Now, all that having been said, I wouldn't trade my 400 MHz G4 for two 1 GHz Windows PCs. You know why? The Mac is better at everything. It's more responsive. It's more intuitive. It looks better, and it feels better. It works how it's supposed to work. It is an extension of a vision of computing that transcends the little needs of gray little accountants and fulfills the wants of creative professionals. It's a natural extension of the creative process. It's a pleasure to work on, and it has been from the beginning.

I started off talking about idyllic life in the twentieth century. Do you remember back when you had your IIci? Nobody talked about clock speed then. It was just, "Look what this thing can do. It can make actual sounds other than beeps. It can display pictures with stunning detail. It can print professional-quality type." There was none of this business about clock speed. It was all about the experience. It still is. One day soon, Intel, AMD or otherwise, computing power will reach a one to one ratio with the demands of software, and the only issue left will be the operating system. That's Mac all the way.

Apple has done an amazing job of putting out high-quality software with an intuitive interface and powerful features, all packaged in a box that makes me feel like I've purchased a piece of masterful architecture as much as a tool to help me get my job done. If you think Windows does the same for you, more power to you. But for me and for the bulk of creative professionals out there, it's Mac now and Mac forever.

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Dave Nagel is the still somewhat new Senior Producer of Creative Mac. An eight-year veteran of the print publishing world, Nagel covered a broad range of topics in the areas of technology and marketing. As a Mac psychofanatic since 1987, he's finally landed his dream job: earning a living writing about his favorite topic. If you have something to say, please send a polite e-mail to [email protected]. (Let's not try to bring him down from his euphoria too soon.)

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