The year was 1992.
I was working for a central-London based supplier of professional photographic equipment, and we’d just taken on UK distribution of an innovative high-resolution digital capture system. The scanning back attached to a Sinar large format studio camera, and could capture images at a resolution of 6000 x 7520 pixels. That equates to a digital image of 129MB. This was in 1992, don’t forget.
We needed a computer to tether the equipment to. The manufacturer of the camera back only had software for the Apple System 7 operating system. Our company had to buy an Apple computer.
My love affair with the Mac was about to begin.
The company purchased an Apple Macintosh Quadra 950 – the most powerful machine available at the time. The processor ran at 33mhz. We ordered it with 256MB of RAM – the maximum it could take. We bought Adobe Photoshop 2.5.1, a Radius 20 inch (CRT) monitor, and a Radius Thundercard accelerator that was meant to speed-up Photoshop. Running an “unsharp mask” on a 129MB file could take 2 minutes or more. Just opening the file could take 30 seconds.
No-one in the company would go near the new arrival. It was down to yours-truly to unpack everything, read the manuals, and connect everything up. Up until then I had never used a computer – not even at school. Even as a total ignoramus I was able to connect the keyboard, mouse, and monitor. I pressed the power button. I heard the ‘bong’.
I was in love.
My Love Affair With The Mac
From then on, I was fascinated with the Quadra 950. I bought Mac magazines to quench my new-found thirst for knowledge. Customers would come and teach me things, and show me software such as Kai’s Power Tools, Strata Studio Pro, and Castle Wolfenstein.
I learned how to run Disk First Aid, how to defragment the (massive for the time) 1GB hard drive, and how to resolve extension conflicts. I learned about SCSI connections, installing cards in NuBus ports, and the fragility of 88MB SyQuest disks. I even bought an external CD drive (an Apple PowerCD that still works to this day) with my own money, just so that I could install the free software on the CDs that came glued on the covers of MacFormat and MacUser magazines.
The Mac became my mistress. I would lavish it with gifts like new mousemats or monitor squeegees. I stayed late at the office most nights, sometimes only leaving so as to catch the last train home. Our company didn’t have internet – no-one I knew did at the time. Everything I learned for the 2+ years I was at the company was from trial and error, reading whatever I could find, and tips from my customers.
Back To The Mac
I read about Apple the company. About Steve Jobs, Steve Wosniak, and 1 Infinite Loop. About John Sculley and Gil Amelio. I travelled up and down the UK, demonstrating the digital camera back. Sometimes with the Mac, sometimes without. I became the go-to Apple guy for anyone who needed to know how to get involved with professional-level digital photography. I spoke at conferences, seminars, workshops, industry events, and tradeshows. I would give presentations. Using PowerPoint. From a Mac.
After a couple of years, I was headhunted and moved to another company. At first I was doing the same sorts of things, but the new company had many more products. I had the chance to play with QuarkXPress, IRIS inkjet printers, and the Quantel Paintbox. I got to use Silicon Graphics workstations and servers, and was even given my very own laptop. An Apple laptop. A PowerBook G3.
I learned how to use more and more software. As well as Photoshop I learned K2, a DTP application that eventually became Adobe InDesign. I learned about Live Picture, Dicomed Imaginator, and Alias Wavefront. I learned about UNIX and Linux, about the command-line interface, and about 3D modelling and animation. No matter what the capabilities of the systems and software, I would always gravitate back to the Mac.
The Only Constant In My Career
Since those heady days, my career path has taken many twists and turns. But Apple, its hardware, and its software has been the one constant in a sea of change. Over the years I’ve visited Apple’s Cupertino campus, given presentations to Apple personnel.
I even met Steve Jobs on two separate-albeit-fleeting occasions.
My Apple hardware moved upwards through PowerBooks, PowerMacs, Mac Pros and MacBook Pros, as well as sideways through iPods and iPhones. Even today I still have a couple of 1990s era PowerMacs in my basement. I should’ve dumped them years ago. But I haven’t.
Even today, while I no longer use an iPhone as my everyday device and choose not to have an iPad, the Mac is where I’m at home. I see the Mac as being a big part of the reason why I’m here, doing what I do – and love to do – today.
Thanks for everything, Steve.