Monday, February 16, 2009

On this day in history...

Quick now – without opening up Google – who played in Super Bowl XVIII? (That’s 18, in non-NFL-speak.)

images.jpegCongratulations! If you said the Raiders and the Redskins, you win a prize. In fact, the Raiders (once of Oakland, then of Los Angeles and now back in Oakland) upset the favoured Washington Redskins 38-9. The game was not one to remember – but something happened at the half that was a real game changer.

The date was Sunday, January 22, 1984. And at halftime, a 1-minute commercial by acclaimed director Ridley Scott announced the launch the following Tuesday of Apple’s Macintosh computer. If you’ve never seen this iconic ad, based on George Orwell’s 1984, head on over to YouTube and take a look. Although the ad only ran once it ranks as one of the best-known commercials ever made – proof that there’s never really been anything like the Mac.

It’s hard to believe a quarter-century has passed since the Macintosh changed the way we think of computers. Our younger members (we do have some, right?) might not realize how much the world has changed. Sometimes I forget myself. When the Mac was released, I was still writing my newspaper stories on an old manual typewriter.

I didn’t get a Macintosh right away, but I wanted one. The wonders of the graphical interface, the mouse, the fonts, WYSIWYG – it was amazing. Even then, the Macs had the coolest bags. You could get one that let you slide the Mac and the keyboard in and sling it across your shoulder – not something I was likely to do with my IBM XT (complete with 10 MB hard drive!).

As the Mac’s 25th anniversary arrives, I wonder if we are seeing the end of an era, with news that Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, has taken a medical leave from the company he founded, left and resurrected. I hope that Jobs returns. But even if he doesn’t, we still have the Mac and the world is a bit better because of it.

(Note: This post was original written on Jan 24, 2009, for my column with the Victoria Mac Users' Group (VMUG). I'm the president this year. I mean to post it here, but forgot about it. Better late than never, right?)

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