The tragic death of Steve Jobs has, at it has with many people, made me reflect on my first Apple.
It was a Mac Plus, and I got it on February 1, 1986. My wife bought it for me for my 40th birthday. It was one of the first Mac Plus computers sold in New Orleans, where I then lived, and definitely the first one sold at Sears in the Crescent City.
The Macintosh Plus computer was the third model in the Macintosh line, introduced on January 16, 1986, two years after the original Mac and a little more than a year after the Macintosh 512. It listed for $2,599 (about $6,000 in today's dollars). The Mac Plus shipped with 1 MB of RAM standard, expandable to 4 MB, and an external SCSI bus. It had a little B&W screen, an 800 KB floppy drive, 128 KB ROM, and the same beige-colored (Pantone 453) case as the original Macintosh.
The original Macintosh was innovative, but computer-savvy types back then thought it was a flash in the pan. I remember asking a guy at work who considered himself a computer expert as to whether I should buy a Mac or an IBM. He said, "No question, buy the IBM."
Then the Mac Plus came along.
The Mac Plus changed my life.
I had used computers at the newspaper company where I worked (we had a computerized front end system that allowed reporters and editors to write stories and set type), and for a brief time I had an Apple II, but the Mac Plus was something else entirely.
One of my reporters had done a story for my business newspapers on the Apple Lisa, the prototype for the Mac Plus, when it came out, and I had looked at earlier versions of the Macintosh in stores.
But the Mac Plus was amazing. The Macintosh was like nothing else on the market. It came bundled with MacWrite and MacPaint. It had a mouse (in those days only the Mac had a mouse -- all the other computers used the keyboard to move around the screen.)
The WYSIWYG screen allowed you to do stuff you couldn't even imagine doing before. You could put together pages of text that looked like pages from real books. You could create things on the computer that you never even thought about doing with a typewriter or an IBM computer or even an Apple II. The SCSI connection allowed you to hook it up to hard drives and printers and other peripherals in a way that hadn't been possible before.
By the time I got my Mac Plus, Steve Jobs had been -- stupidly -- forced out of the company he co-founded, but he had been instrumental in the development of the revolutionary Mac. Happily, he came back, replacing the bean counters and ignorant sugar water sellers, and created the most innovative technology and design company in the world.
I've had perhaps 15 computers since my first Mac, all but two Apple products, but nothing compares with that Mac Plus.
Unfortunately, in a cleaning up frenzy, I threw it in the garbage a few years ago....