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What was your first Mac? Your favorite Mac of all time? TUAW staff answers all

Thirty years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the Macintosh, a computer that without question fundamentally changed the face of computing.

Since that momentous day 30 years ago, Apple has released an inordinate number of Mac models. Though the Apple brand is now associated with words like "hip" and "cool" -- we can thank the iPod for that -- there was a time when using a Mac was decidedly uncool. Consequently, people who proactively sought out a Mac and were willing to pay extra to get a whole lot more are likely to look back at their first Mac with a nostalgic lens. Even those who first came to the Mac during the Steve Jobs Part 2 era are likely to remember their first Mac with fondness. Because after all, once you go Mac, you never go back.

That being the case, we thought it'd be fun and interesting to ask the talented folks here at TUAW a pair of questions to commemorate 30 years of all things Macintosh.

1) What was the first Mac you ever owned?

2) What is your favorite Mac of all-time?

Michael Rose

128K original, baby. And, as all true Mac users know, the best Mac of all time pound-for-pound was the SE/30. Although the 15" retina MBP is a close call for best ever.

Chris Rawson

The first Mac I ever used was the SE/30. My middle school computer lab bought about 20 of them in 1990 to replace the ancient Apple ][e beasties we'd been using before.

This was my first encounter with a computer running a GUI, and it was a revelation. I instantly felt that was how computers should have been all along. No more typing obscure nonsense into a CLI to open a file -- just double click an icon, and boom. No more spending an hour coding in BASIC to draw a blocky, pixelated image -- just open Paint and start drawing lines, circles, etc in real time.

It felt like the possibilities were endless... so naturally, all our computer instructor did with them was use them to teach us how to type. Oh well.

My favorite Mac is probably the one I own now: my trusty, crusty, rusty 17" 2008 MacBook Pro. I've had that thing for close to six years, and it's still humming along. I occasionally consider upgrading, but I've never really felt the need. My iPad Air is pretty much my primary device now; I mostly only use my Mac for media streaming to my Apple TV, or for the "heavy lifting" sort of stuff that the iPad isn't so great at, like Photoshop.

Mel Martin

I had the original Mac back in 1984. It was a wonder but I absolutely hated swapping floppies back and forth to write a letter or report. My old Apple II didn't have that affliction.

I think my favorite Mac was the Mac II that first allowed color graphics. What a concept!

Megan Lavey-Heaton

First Mac I ever used: Graphite iMac

Favorite Mac model: My favorite Mac tends to be whichever one I'm using at the moment, though I have all sorts of love for the current-generation MacBook Air. It's really pushed the envelope regarding power and being able to tote around a laptop without breaking your back (or the bank).

Kelly Hodgkins

The first Mac I used was the Classic, which was installed in my college computer lab. The first one I owned was the Power Macintosh 6100, which was a going away present from my family when I entered grad school.

My favorite Mac has to be the MacBook Air, 2013 model. The small size, powerful performance and long battery life are a great combo. Even with the base model that has 4GB of RAM, I haven't encountered any limitations that made me regret my purchase.

Dave Caolo

The first Mac that I ever used was an SE/30. My first job out of college was teaching, and there was an SE/30 on the desk in the office. I can remember being struck by how small it was. My college had mammoth PCs in its computer lab. I also remember thinking the display was razor sharp, which is hilarious today.

The first Mac I ever bought was a 333Mhz iMac G3. Strawberry. I loved that thing.

I dearly loved my PowerBook 150. When I was teaching we collected and analyzed a LOT of data with Microsoft Excel. That old PowerBook ran Excel 4 like a dream. Plus, it was a laptop! A computer that you could carry around! What decadence!

Victor Agreda Jr

My dad bought a SE/30, which I used to connect to the Internet and download a virus (it was in a Monty Python sound set). That same SE/30 sits in my bedroom today, a victim of a fried capacitor (which can be fixed) -- it was upgraded to allow an external color monitor and had, at one time, a Jaz and Zip drive connected to it. This machine was used well into the 1990s!

My first personal Mac was a Centris 610 with Apple's ergonomic keyboard. The less said about that pizza box abomination the better.

Steve Sande

1. Although I went to a NYNEX Business Center the day the Mac first showed up in Denver to see it for myself, I didn't actually buy one until December of 1984. At that point, those "business sales" folks at NYNEX Business Center were doing a "Test Drive A Mac" promotion in which you could borrow a Mac for a few days if you filled out a credit application. I did so, and ended up buying the machine I brought home. It was one of the initial Fat Macs, a 512K model, and I bought an Imagewriter printer to go along with it - I think the final bill was over $3500. A little over a year after I got it, Apple came out with a revised ROM chip that made it a 512KE and bumped the capacity of the main floppy drive to 800 KB. I really loved the Mac's interface and the friendliness of the machine. I didn't love the swapping of floppies, but I was too cheap to buy a second disk drive considering how much I spent on the computer in the first place. My worst experience with floppy-swapping came with Lotus Jazz, which was an office suite that was almost unusable. If I remember correctly, I got my first hard drive - an Apple HD 20 - in early 1986 because of that. By the way, that 20 MB drive cost me about $1500.

2. My favorite Mac of all time has to be the Mac IIcx that I got in 1989. This was my first color Mac, it was much more compact than the Mac II (and less expensive), and even better, it had a built-in hard drive (I think 80 MB?). Awesome machine, and I used it for years while I was running my old Mac BBS "MAGIC". But now? I absolutely love my late 2012 27" iMac -- 3.5 GHz quad-core i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB Fusion Drive. Damn, this thing is fast.

Kelly Guimont

I spent a LOT of time on a ][e, for a bunch of reasons, but since that doesn't count as a Mac I'd have to say the first Mac I used regularly was the Classic. The first one I owned/bought myself was the PowerBook 1400cs.

And that's also the answer to my favorite machine. I loved my Powerbook SO much. Slide off the speaker grill, lift up the keyboard, and BAM! Innards. It was awesome. I only miss swapping stuff out of expansion bays because I had a battery that fit in the floppy/CD slot that was awesome. I do not, and will never EVER miss the HDI SCSI connector. Seriously.

Ilene Hoffman

My first Mac was the Macintosh 128. After learning on PCs, it felt like a toy and at first I found it insulting to use. After discovering all the neat stuff I could do with the fonts and writing though, I changed my mind. I still have it, although I upgraded it to a Mac Plus, and as of 2 years ago when I fired it up, it still worked!

I disagree with Mike re: the SE/30. The best Mac by far was the Mac IIci. Versatile, robust, it was awesome! And it ran forever. My second favorite Mac and favorite laptop: the Pismo! That was a G3 FW machine and it also still runs, as opposed to my G4 Powerbook.

Michael Grothaus

1. The G4 Cube. I was a Windows guy, but I fell in love with OS 9 the moment I used it. Unfortunately, my Cube was defective and only lasted for a few weeks. I returned it to Mac Mall and bought a G4 tower instead. I fell in love with how easy that was to upgrade.

2. The current 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. Thin, light, insanely fast, super long battery life, and ultra portable with a large screen. Everything a writer on the go could ask for.

TJ Luoma

My first experience using a computer was an Apple IIe that was in a lab at my school. I think I was in 8th grade at the time, although I might have been a high school freshman. The only thing I can remember doing on it is writing a program in BASIC (I presume) that filled up the screen with random colored blocks. And the only reason I remember that is that it impressed a high school cheerleader who was there in the lab at the same time. (Heather... something...)

In college (www.allegheny.edu, same alma mater as Marco Arment, although I was a few years ahead of him) we used NeXT Computers. That was where I had my first real experience with a modern computer and what it could do. It's also where I started to learn how to help other people use computers. And where I started tinkering with Terminal :-)

When I graduated, a friend I had met online gave me his NeXTStation (he had recently purchased an Intel machine).

My first Mac of the modern era was a PowerBook G4 which I believe was the _last_ Mac made before the switch to Intel was announced. (Timing has always been my forté in life.)

Richard Gaywood

1. I am pleasingly non-traditional for an Apple blogger.

I hated pre-Unix Macs. I used them a few times, but I despised the ugly, uncomfortable mouse, the unfamiliar GUI, the weird UK keyboard layout, the awful memory management model, and various other things that offended my nerdy sensibilities. I was a DOS user from the late '80s to '98 or so, reluctantly switched to Windows, then gradually spent more time in Linux until 2001. I also dallied with Solaris and BSD. By that point I was doing everything bar gaming in Linux, although I had a job on the side supporting Windows at a local firm.

When I started my PhD, Cardiff University offered to buy me a laptop. A colleague had recently switched to OS X (10.1 then I think) and was raving about it. I spent some time with his machine and convinced myself I could get comfortable with this and asked Cardiff to order me a pretty stacked 12" iBook.

I loved that little computer. It had most of the Unix tools I wanted out of the box, and could easily compile and install anything else I wanted to add. It didn't have the hassles that Linux still put me through with things like printer and scanner drivers or configuring graphics settings, none of which were insurmountable but combined had eventually ground me down and put me off Linux on the desktop. And the form factor was sublime: tiny, light, good battery life, and it instantly and reliably went into and out of standby when I closed and opened the lid. I'd never seen a Windows computer that handled that well. Plus it had wifi, which was moderately exotic at the time.

That iBook used to hang around in the lounge of the shared house I lived in and was quickly nicknamed "the small white Internet" because it was the computer we all reached for when we needed to look at something on the web. Everyone liked it (and several of those people own Macs now). Sadly I quite literally worked it to death during my PhD. Four logic board faults due to a manufacturing defect (cheers, Apple), the last of which came -- the night before I submitted my final draft -- outside the extended warranty period.

2. I've only owned four in total: that 2001 iBook, a 1999-era PowerMac G4 I inherited, a 2008 MacBook Pro, and my 27" 2011 iMac. The iMac is by far the most desirable, I love the huge screen and raw power. But the Mac I am fondest of was that iBook. You never forget your first, right?

Yoni Heisler

My first Mac was the trusty and understandably overlooked Mac LC, originally released in late 1990. I was hooked immediately.

My favorite Mac of all-time isn't so much a specific model as it is an entire series, namely Apple's line of aluminum iMacs. Though Apple has made subtle changes to the design over the past few years, I think the aluminum iMac is the epitome of desktop computing. I'm not sure how Apple can really improve upon a design that's essentially just a giant monitor.

What was your first/favorite Mac?

But enough about us, let's talk about YOU! Please speak up in the comments below and reminisce about your first Mac, your favorite Mac, or perhaps, your most hated Mac.



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Thirty years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the Macintosh, a computer that without question fundamentally changed the...