Reverend Neal's Ode to the Mac!
Grace Incarnate is updated and maintained with a Macintosh 17-inch display G4 Powerbook running OS X.4.2 and Adobe GoLiveCS (7.0.2). As a long-time, loyal user of Apple Computers, I do not hide the fact that I love and support the Mac OS and Macintosh products. To put it very simply, I believe that the Mac platform is the very best in personal computing! Windows users will, of coure, usually disagree, but my experience on PCs running XP or other versions of the Microsoft Windows OS is that, while they are functional (they usually get the job done), they don't do it with the style, the grace, the ease, or the sheer fun of a Macintosh. Macs are what all personal computers should be like, and the Macintosh Operating System is what the Windows OS has slowly -- over the years -- been working hard at duplicating. That, my friends, is the sign of a true winner ... not current-sales market share, but which OS has set the standard for what others want to look and feel and function like. The Macintosh Operating System is, without a doubt, that Standard.
This "Ode to the Mac" has been written in honor of the many different Apple and Macintosh computers that have graced my life over the years. Each has given me many hours of fun, as well as many years productive service.
My love affair with Apple computers began in 1978, when my father bought me an Apple II.
I cut my programming teeth learning BASIC and Fortran on this lovely old computer! Believe it or not, in 1977 a 1 Mhz processor was an amazing thing, and that's exactly what the old Apple II had: a 1 Mhz MOStek 6502 microprocessor, operating with an 8 bit Data Path and a 1 Mhz Bus. It originally came with 4K of RAM and 12K of ROM, with integer BASIC hard-coded onto the ROM for easier programming, but that was later expanded to an amazing 64K of memory when, in 1979, we added a 48K RAM card. It originally came with a tape-deck for loading either purchased programs, or for saving and re-loading programs I had written myself (and I wrote a bunch of them). However, in 1978 we added an external "Disk Drive," and eventually added a second drive in 1980. In the late 70s all of that added up to a great deal of computing power, and I used it for games (remember the cool old classic Star Trek game, made exclusively for the Apple?), school projects, and word processing. The really cool thing about all this is that my Apple II STILL works! There's NO WAY I'll ever part with her!
My next computer -- which I bought with the income of about a half-million thrown newspapers (and, I might add, with a great deal of financial help from my Father) -- was an Apple IIc. As it's name suggests, this was a significant upgrade to the original Apple II. In addition to a somewhat faster 1.4 Mhz SynerTek 65C02 microprocessor, the IIc improved upon the Apple II by employing an impressive 32 kb of ROM and a then-utterly amazing 128 kb of RAM. In addition to having a somewhat faster processor and more than twice the memory, it was smaller than its predecessor, more portable (with a cool handle), and had a built-in 5.25 floppy drive. In short, it was the perfect computer for a dorm-cramped undergraduate student in that day and age, and that was exactly how I used her; I wrote 3 years worth of undergraduate papers on this baby before I had it upgraded (a mother-board and disk-drive swap-out which saved me a bundle over buying a new computer) to the guts of an Apple IIc Plus. With this upgrade my baby became an increasingly better word-processing platform. She was smaller, lacked an external power supply (the dreaded "brick on a rope"), and sported a 4 Mhz SynerTek 650C02 microprocessor, 256 kb of RAM, and a svelt 3.5 internal floppy drive. I wrote most of my undergraduate papers on both versions of the IIc in an application called Bankstreet Writer (remember that horrid thing??), and I still use her from time to time to access those old papers (especially when I want to have a good laugh ... I can't imagine WHY some of my professors even let me graduate!) But, graduate I did, and after my first year and a half of the Masters program I discovered how desperately I needed a better computer. A modern computer. A computer with a future. A computer with style.
I joined the Macintosh revolution, purchasing this wonderful baby! She's a Mac Plus and has an 8 Mhz 68000 processor, a 16 bit Data Path, 128 kb of ROM, an internal 3.5 "floppy" drive, no Hard Drive (I added an external 40 MB drive, which she she sat on), and 1 MB of RAM (which I soon upgraded to 2, and then 4, MB), and an Imagewriter for printing purposes. Believe it or not, that was a LOT of computer way back in 1990! She worked hard for me, serving not only as a word-processing station, but also as a games-platform and graphic-arts generator (I used it for signs, church newsletters, and worship bulletins). It was also the first computer with which I accessed America On-Line in December of 1991, which makes me one of AOL's longest continuously active members (I joined when there were only about 25,000 subscribers).
Did you know that my Mac Plus not only still works, but will even run System 7.5.5! Isn't that something??!! All of you Windows chauvinists, I ask you: how many pre-286 PCs can run Windows95? She was a wonderful computer and, like my Apple II and IIcPlus, the Mac Plus will always hold a special place in my heart. However, soon after moving back to Texas I discovered a need for a second computer. My Mac Plus was still sufficient for use at home, but I really needed a computer for use at the church office. And, so ...
Late in 1992 I bought a "pizza box" ... my LCII (actually a Performa 405); it came with a 16 Mhz 68030 microprocessor and had 4 MB of RAM and an 80 MB Hard Drive. When I bought it I couldn't imagine ever needing such a huge Hard Drive! Oh, how quickly things changed! I eventually upgraded the RAM to 10 MB and added a 270 MB external Hard Drive. After several more years, and an additional 800 MB External Hard Drive, I finally upgraded her painfully slow microprocessor to the max with a 50 Mhz 68030 ThunderCachePro Accelerator Card by MicroMac; in addition to a speedy processor, this upgrade also gave me the ability to break that horrid 10 MB RAM limit which some dumb bunny had built into the LCII series, so I increased the RAM to her accelerator-card-enabled absolute maximum of 26 MB. With the expanded Hard Drive space, improved processor, and increased RAM, I was able to run all the basic web-surfing software, word processing applications, and graphic design utilities that a small church office might need. And, I was able to proceed through the successive upgrades to the Mac OS, all the way up to System 7.6. I should probably upgrade her one last time, with the final verson of the OS 7 family (7.6.1), but I'm not sure what I'd do her. One of the neat things about most Macs is the way in which they last ... and last ... and last. My LCII (whom I affectionately called "Elsie") gave me 7 years of loving service at the church office, until advances in computer technology and the expansion of my computer needs forced me to retire her in 1999. 7+ years of labor out of one computer ... with NO breakdowns, NO need for repairs, NO complaints, and only one major upgrade of the microprocessor ... Macs are amazing! She currently rests from her decade of hard labor on a closet shelf in my home, dreaming of all those debates on AOL, and still remembering all of the Sermons that she helped me write.
By December of 1993 I was beginning to feel the need for mobile computing. I taught in my first UM School of Missions that year, and I also found myself spending a lot of time researching at Bridwell Library while teaching Greek at Southern Methodist Univerity. Also, I was doing a lot of computer-work, especially taking notes and writing proposals, at denominational meetings. Hence, I really needed a computer I could easily transport from place to place without the need of a dolly and several cardboard boxes. Thankfully, Apple had just the computer to fill my needs: the Powerbook 145b "Pikes Peak":
This was an excellent computer for its day and age, and its abilities were really quite amazing. The 145b Powerbook had a MC68030 Microprocessor running at 25 Mhz, 4 MB of RAM, and a 25 Mhz bus (meaning that its processor was not hobbled by inadequate data throughput, which was always a problem for Elise). She had an 80 MB internal Hard Drive, 2 serial ports, an ADB port, an internal 3.5 inch floppy drive, no internal CD-ROM (not back in 1993), a 2400bps internal modem, and a surprisingly good Passive Matrix 1 bit (black and white) 640x400 LCD screen. She traveled well and accessed my AOL account with ease (running AOL 2.0 in Black and White mode). She came with System 7.1 which I upgraded to System 7.5, then 7.5.5, and finally 7.6 before I gave her to a friend and fellow minister in 1998. She traveled with me all over the USA, and even made a missionary trip with me to Russia in 1997. As a mobile computing work-horse and secondary office computer she really was worth every dime (and I paid a lot of dimes for her). I never regretted buying her, but I DO regret giving her away. Still, my friend gave her a good home, and he still uses her as a bible-software platform (I understand she runs MacBible quite well).
In mid-1996 I began to see a need for younger, swifter, more capable computer at my house. While my Mac Plus still functioned well, it was painfully slow and didn't do all the things I would have liked. Likewise, I was noticing that I was spending increasingly more time at home using my 145b because it could do things that my Mac Plus could not. And, so ...
Early in 1996 I entered the PowerPC age and bought a Performa 6300CD. It came with a 100 Mhz 603e processor, 16 MB of RAM (which I upgraded to 64 MB), a 1.2 GB Hard Drive, and an internal CDROM drive. It was a significant advance over my elderly Mac Plus, my LC II, and my Powerbook 145b, but it quickly proved to be an inadequate computer for my needs. Nevertheless, I hung on to it until mid 1998, when I took advantage of a trade-in upgrade offer from Shreve Systems and purchased a Reconditioned Performa 6400/200.
My Performa 6400 had a 200 Mhz 603e processor, 136 MB of RAM, a 2.4 GB Hard Drive, and an 8x CD-Rom. A good computer, it served for a year as my primary computer at home, then replaced my LCII at the office from March 1999 until March 2000. It now serves as the office computer for a minister-friend and his struggling inner-city congregation, having received a new-lease on life via a Sonnet Crescendo/L2 G3/400 MHz w/1024K Backside Cache, a larger larger hard drive, an additional supply of RAM, and OS 9.2.2. With her he runs iTunes, iPhoto, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Appleworks, and MS Word 98. I'm proud that this old computer is still able to function as well as it does, serving the Lord.
MacLust can have a way of infecting even the most well-intentioned of individuals. This happened to me when Apple released the Beige G3 line and, then, the iMac. I wanted one of those flavorful computers so badly that I could almost taste one. However, due to financial considerations I held out to see what would come next. And, sure enough, along came the Mac Tower of my dreams....
In March of 1999 I launched into the G3 age with a brand spanking new Power Macintosh G3 "Blue and White" running a 400 Mhz PowerPC 750, with 128 MB RAM (immediately upgraded to 384 MB), a 12 GB Hard Drive (which I eventually updated with an 80 GB external Firewire Drive), a 24x CD-ROM (which I quickly augmented with an external Firewire CDRW), an internal Zip Drive, an ATI 3D Rage 128 graphics card w/ 16 MB Video SGRAM, 1 MB backside cache, USB/FireWire/ADB ports, an internal 56k modem, and 10/100 b-t ethernet for networking. All-in-all, out of the box she was an incredible machine! And, for once I had bought a top of the Macintosh line, rather than something in the mid-range of speed and abilities. I have never been dissappointed.
Oh, sure, compared with the G5 dual processor computers of 2005, she's now terribly outdated, but this wonderful computer still does everything I need it to do and fulfills an important roll as my office computer. She's been upgraded, repeatedly, with G4 microprocessor upgrades, hard drive upgrades, videocard upgrades, and monitor upgrades. She runs OS X.4.2 very well, and shows no sign of quitting.
As wonderful as my Blue & White was from the very beginning, not long after I purchased her I discovered a renewed need for portable computing power. With all the traveling I do, both inside the United States and all over the world, I found that I needed to have a Mac that could to go with me to the ends of the Earth ... and, so, in the early Summer of 1999 I bought a G3 Wallstreet Powerbook.
This was a revolutionary laptop in its day, and even though she is now quite outdated by the latest advances in Computer technology, she is still an incredible computer! She currently runs OS X.3.9, even though she's not supposed to be able to run it, and while she's slow she is still, nevertheless, quite capable of serving one's portable computing needs.
This Powerbook has a G3 processor running at 300 Mhz, 1MB backside cache, 512 MB RAM, a 12 GB Hard Drive, a 20x CD-ROM, Zip Drive, Ethernet, 56k modem, and a sharp, clean, 14.1" active matrix color LCD display.
This Powerbook ROCKED. She has suffered some damage over the years, and my father -- ever the efficient electrical engineer -- saw to her repair. I've taken her with me on Missionary trips to Russia, to UM Schools of Mission all over the United States, on vacations to Colorado, Missouri, and California, and on cruises to the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, and the North Atlantic. She currently serves as my Dad's portable computer during his thrice-weekly trips to Kidney Dialysis.
In January of 2001 I traveled to San Francisco and attended the 2001 MacWorld Expo, where I fell in love with yet another major, revolutionary advance in personal computer technology: Apple's G4 Titanium Powerbook. So much in love was I -- or, at least, in lust -- that I placed an order for one while still at the Expo! This amazing computer has a G4 processor running at 500 Mhz, 1 GB of RAM, a 20 GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive, 10/100 B-T Ethernet, a 56k Modem, AirPort card, 1 firewire port, 2 USB ports, a VGA Video out and a S-Video out port, yet weigns only 5.3 lbs and measures 1" H x 13.4" W x 9.5" D. But, most amazing of all for its day, this sweetheart has an absolutely GLORIOUS 15.2" active matrix TFT display with 24 bit (true color) and a maximum resolution of 1152x768.
This computer was an INCREDIBLE advance over all other laptops of its day. While there are now much faster G4 laptops, with larger screens or smaller screens (depending upon one's preference), and while DVD-R/CD-RW combo "superdrives" are now expected as a matter of course, my TiBook is still an excellent machine. Following my Pulmonary Embolism in May of 2001, during my period of hospitalization followed by extended bed-rest (June-October of 2001), I actually used her not as a laptop but as a "chesttop" ... so much so, in fact, that I actually burned my skin a little from the heat she generates. She has been indespensible to me for over 4 and a half years, and without a doubt has been one of the best computers I've ever owned. This is currently used by my cousin, Christopher, as his primary portable computer.
Some new "older" Macs recently added to my family.
Since my appointment to First UMC in Seagoville, I have adopted 2 older PowerMac towers and several other, older machines. When one offers to give me free Macintosh computers, the answer is always "yes," and that is exactly what I said when the offer was made to give me a PowerMac 8600/300.
This tower is the undisputed royality of the pre-G3 PowerMac line. Graced with a revolutionary case design and an internal archetecture that anticipated the G3 Beige and Blue & White lines of subsequent years, the 8600/300 had an honored position as one of the most advanced computers of its processor-generation. The model which was given to me was outfitted with a top-of-the-line 300 Mhz 604e PowerPC processor, serviced by a 50 Mhz mainline bus. She sported a 3.5 inch floppy drive, a 12x CD-ROM, a 100 MB zip drive, a 2 GB internal hard drive (which I upgraded to 20 GB), and 256 MB of memory. She runs OS 9.1 quite well, and makes an excellent Legacy Mac OS platform for running any older Classic software.
In November of 2002, while I was still coming to terms with the gift of the 8600/300, I was suddenly and unexpected given a Beige G3/300 PowerMac.
This computer has a great deal going for it. It has the same basic tower design of the 8600, which makes it an easy prospect to upgrade. It came stock with a G3/300 microprocessor, running on a 66 Mhz Bus, with a 1 MB backside cache and 128 MB of RAM (which I have upgraded to 640 MB). She has a 24x CD-ROM drive, a 100 MB Zip drive, a stock 8 GB Hard drive (which I have upgraded with the addition of a 120 GB Western Digital Caviar (Special Edition) Internal Hard Drive), 1 ADB port, 2 Serial ports, a PCI A/V personality card, a SCSI DB-19 bus, to which I have added a top-of-the-line MacAlly 2 Port FireWire + 2 Port USB 2.0/1.1 Combo PCI Card. In addition to the above improvements, I have also swapped out her G3/300 processor (which I've put in the 8600, by the way) with the G3/400 processor which was originally in my Blue & White. This computer is outfitted with OS X.3.9, which she isn't supposed to be able to run but can, and does, quite nicely. She is a joy to use, is quite snappy, and serves well as my primary in-house computer at the parsonage in Seagoville.
Latest Macintosh Acquisitions:
In July 2005 I decided that it was time to upgrade my portable computing capacity. My G4 TiBook, while a wonderful computer, had grown elderly and, with the developments in capabilities, it was time for an upgrade. So, I purchased a top-of-the-line G4 Powerbook with an amazingly glorious 17.1-inch HD display. This computer comes with a 1.67 GHz 64 bit G4 processor with 512 KB onchip Cache, a 166 MHz Bus, 1.5 GB of RAM, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 videocard, 100 GB Hard Drive, CD-RW/DVD+-RW Drive, 56 kbps modem, Airport and Bluetooth cards, and 10/100/1000 BaseT Ethernet. This is an absolutely amazing computer.
I love my Macs. Through the years they have helped me in my studies and in my ministry; they have provided me with many hours of entertainment and relief from the drudgery of everyday life; they have enabled me to communicate with family and friends all over the world. Macs are what computers should be.