The Second Mac: The Path to Technomancy, Part 1

When I was a sophomore in college, I got a chance to get a new computer. I wanted the Mac SE/30 for the Motorola 68030 32-bit clean CPU and the expansion slot. (secretly known as the “SEx”—the “x” was for eXpandable, along the lines of “IIx,” and “IIcx”, but Apple Marketing decided to sheepishly steer away from that moniker. At least that’s what I was told by a rep. and I had no reason to doubt him.)

Instead my father, who was financing this upgrade decided an SE and a Laserwriter II SC was a better choice. The bill was around $4.5K. I didn’t like that I was overruled since I knew that means I would eventually be unable to run the latest Mac OS, but it was his money. I appreciated it even though I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. Being an Assembly programmer that made some of the first image rasterizing firmware and software, he knew the value of raster laser accurate printing. He told me about Optical drive platters in the late 70s or early 80s before there were any consumer optical disks (y’all know them as “CDs”), so didn’t doubt him. Around 1983 he also predicted that in the future we would have storage technology thousands of times larger and computers in our pockets within his lifetime. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Moore’s law, but it is a good guide to the speed and storage of future generations.

In the long run, the SE and LaserWriter were a much better choice because it added a new capability, pretty much no other people in my demographic had. It came in very handy, and I used it for reports that put other student’s reports to shame the same way my 128K Mac and ImageWriter printed reports in high school put other students’ typed and handwritten reports to shame. I started playing around with graphics and printing because 300dpi (even in black and white) was very cool. I learned how to manipulate angle and density of the line screens for getting different visual effects, etc. This “playing” with what I had access to led to printing up things for fun: stickers and other things, and eventually a newsletter or two.

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