the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.

All Those Macs Ago

in Mac , Thursday, October 06, 2005

I've just sold my "old" Mac, A G4 "Quicksilver" (merci, Alberto) with a number of upgrades, including a dual processor card. This got me thinking about it's ancestors, and what, if any, genuine progress comes from the ever accelerating technology landslide. The first computer I ever paid for myself was a Mac PowerPC 7200. If I remember correctly it had a massive 16Mb of RAM and a huge 80Mb disk drive. It ran MacOS 7.5.3, possibly the nadir of the Mac OS. For something like 6 months after buying it, I could not print to my Tektronix inkjet - the computer froze when I tried. I was one of several irate early adopters of eWorld complaining vociferously about this. Apple UK even wrote to me to complain...then sent an engineer to check it, in full knowledge, I'm sure that this was a total waste of time. Apple fixed it, eventually. The 7200 was the first Mac I bought, but not the first I used. I had a Powerbook Duo 230 at work at the time, and used that at home in it's dock. At the time I was mainly using the Mac for illustration, using Photoshop et al. I can remember things like going off to watch TV for an hour whilst the computer struggled to rotate a 10Mb image... The 7200 was replaced some time later by an 8600AV, a pretty good machine, which served me well for some years, and which I also used for video editing and as part of a music studio. I sold the 7200, but the 8600, upgraded with a G3 processor, lived on for years, finally using OS X Server 10.1 to run the public website of Vilkas Ltd, until the company closed in late 2004. I'm not sure where the 8600 ended up... When you consider that an 8600 is more less a contemporary of the first Pentium PCs, its longevity is pretty amazing. In parallel with the dektop machines, I also have had a series of laptops, starting with a second hand Duo 280, a tiny device, smaller I think than the current 12 inch Powerbook. This wasn't quite up to the multimedia tasks I started needing to do, so I replaced it with one of the first Powerbook G3s, which lasted me over 5 years. I acquired the G4 that I just sold in 2000, along with an Apple Cinema Display which cost more than the computer. At the time, I was briefly having money thrown at me by a dot com, which allowed me to indulge. The main use of my personal systems by then had become photography, and when I started to scan panoramic and medium format film, the 300Mb files I was producing were beginning to choke Photoshop. Also, I could not work in 16 bit mode without extreme reserves of patience. I upgraded the processor to a dual 1.2Ghz, which helped, but it still wasn't perfect. So finally I did what I'd never done before, and bought a top end system, a G5 with dual 2.5Ghz processors. So far, I am pleased to say, this has coped with everything I've thrown at it. On the laptop side, the G3 Powerbook was replaced by a 1Ghz TiBook in early 2004. Despite me nearly destroying it when it was two weeks old, it remains a trusty sidekick. Of course, the mountains of accessories and software should not be forgotten. Nor should the Newtons, a 120 and a 2100, and their accessories and software. I don't suppose the story ends here either. I'd love a smaller, lighter laptop... So has anything changed ? Well yes, basically. In the early days, there is no doubt that I frequently ran up against the limits of the machines. The G5 now rarely if ever gets flustered. I can handle image files over 1Gb with not too much hassle. I can't imagine a time where the G5 feels slow, but perhaps it will come. I do think the curve is flattening, although I daresay the next version of Photoshop will be even more demanding. Whatever, I'm fairly sure the next desktop system I buy will have an Intel processor in it. I don't know if anybody reads this stuff, but if you'll read this you'll read anything :-) Thanks anyway - now go and have a look at something far more worthwhile.