Apple ][+, IBM PC, and now a Mac

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In August 1980 my wife and I borrowed three thousand dollars from a bank. One thousand was earmarked for body work on our van. Two thousand dollars was for the purchase of an Apple ][+.

I wanted the Apple because I thought it would be the neatest toy I could ever own. A neighbor had a Commodore Pet that I thought was cool but awkward to use due to its cassette recorder storage system. The Radio Shack TRS-80 was available but it was impossible to find a Radio Shack store where the staff was knowlegible about the computer. The Texas Instruments TI-99 was another option with its 16 bit processor but with a terrible chiclet style keyboard. Then there was the Apple.

The Apple was the most expensive of the three. But it was also the most solidly constructed with a Selectric style keyboard (A Selectric was an IBM typewriter that used a ball rather than arms to print on a page and had an amazing keyboard). The base computer came with 16 kilobytes of RAM to which I added an additional 32 kilobytes. The cost of the machine was twelve hundred dollars. To that I added a floppy disk drive for an additional seven hundred dollars. For a monitor I used my wife’s old twelve inch black and white TV.

One other thing set the Apple apart in 1980, its owners and dealers. Whenever I went to the handful of Apple dealers I always met either other owners or other Apple shoppers who loved to talk Apple. The stores did not have any problem with us coming by even though we rarely bought anything. The sales people had Apples and it felt very much like a community. I bought my Apple from Central Microsystems in the Montreal suburb of Ville-St-Pierre. They are still in business.

From the moment I set it up I became obsessed with it. If I was at work or if I wasn’t sleeping then I was on the computer. I bought every magazine I could find and typed in every program around. I taught myself how to program. I joined a user group.

Over the next few years I left my regular job and became a freelance programmer. While I did a few projects on the Apple ][+, by 1983 I was using an IBM PC. I even had an Apple //gs with a hard drive but by 1985 all my work was on the IBM PC with DOS. When the Macintosh came out I went to see it and recognized what its potential was. But a funny thing happened, no one ever asked me to write software for a Mac. My reputation and my business revolved around the IBM PC and the Microsoft operating systems.

Today at 12:32 PM my first Apple Macintosh was delivered to my office. I bought it online and it was delivered from Shanghai, China by FedEx. I purchased a MacBook. I’ll be going home shortly to start playing with my new toy.

About Ken

I am the Program Coordinator and Chairperson of the Computer Science Technology program at Dawson College in Montreal, Canada. I am also a Program Consultant to and part-time instructor in the Computer Institute of Concordia University's School of Extended Learning.

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