I was an Apple computer user before there was a Macintosh. In 1981, I convinced my dad that we should save our money and wait to buy an Apple II Plus instead of a Tandy Color Computer. We used Apple IIs for most of the following decade.
But the Macintosh amazed me when I heard about it—I had a fold-out Mac ad from a magazine taped to the wall in the basement near where our Apple II lived, and where I spent hours each night sending e-mail and trading pirated software over a 300 baud modem connection. I went and bought the first issue of Macworld magazine without a hope of being able to afford the computer it talked about.
After reading it through, I was convinced that I knew how to operate this new machine, with its bizarre black-on-white screen and mysterious "mouse," without having ever touched one. And I was right. At the next Vancouver computer fair, there were some Macs, and on one I was able to draw a picture in MacPaint, right off the bat.
By the late '80s, my roommates and I were letting SimCity run all night long on a Mac Plus to see what would happen, and I was creating a student newspaper almost single-handed, sitting up late at night in the basement of UBC's Chemistry building with a Mac SE and PageMaker 2.0.
I used a Mac on my first paid editing job in 1990. I viewed my first web page on one in my office at the Student Union Building in 1992. My wife and I played one of the Myst games on another while our newborn daughter slept in 1998. I used Macintoshes to compose obituaries for two of my grandparents, and to build this website.
Macs are known for long lives in computing terms, and mine are typical. My Centris 660AV was my main machine from 1993 until 1998, and the Power Mac G3 I bought then is still my primary desktop, nearly six years later. I'm typing this from bed, on a seven-year-old PowerBook 1400 that's been souped up and made wireless.
If you clicked a mouse or tapped a stylus to read this, if you found your job (or a good bargain, or your spouse) online, if you like your MP3s and QuickTime movies, if you spend your days at a computer and yet never have to type a command to tell it what to do, you owe part of it to the people who created the Mac two decades ago.