Why do you own a Mac?

by Chris Howard Oct 26, 2005

Nearly 22 years ago, like the rest of the world, I first heard of the Mac and, like many, I was immediately smitten.

At the time I had a computer. Well, we called them computers but young folks today would probably try to stifle a laugh. I had a Spectravideo SV-328 with 80KB RAM and dual floppy drives - 5 & 1/4” of course. With the hefty RAM and those floppies, this computer gave me bragging rights. I don’t know how much the mark-up from US to Australia was back then, but after I’d added a printer and screen (a TV), it cost me nearly AUD$2000. I was 19 and at the time my annual salary was about AUD$10,000. My mum nearly had a hernia and said it was a waste of money. And why not - would you spend one-fifth of your annual salary on a computer? In my last job my total salary package would, applying the same math, have enabled me to get a PowerMac with dual dual-core 2.5GHz PowerPC CPU, 8GB RAM, dual 500GB HDD, 16x SuperDrive DoubleLayer DVD burner, NVidia GeForce 6600 with 256MB SDRAM, Bluetooth, AirPort Extreme, wireless keyboard and mouse, and two Apple 20” flat panel Apple Cinema Displays. Are you salivating? Well I was over my Spectravideo and it’s character based screen and keyboard driven interface. (Stop laughing!)

And then Steve let the Mac out of the bag. You can watch the video of that momentous day if you look for the videoIt’s great to be out of that bag on that site. Anyone not around then possibly can’t appreciate the significance of that event.

Sure I’d seen write ups in computer magazines of the Lisa. And sure I was mighty impressed with it’s GUI interface. But it was very expensive - more than my annual salary, so GUI’s were obviously just for the very wealthy corporations. Us mere mortals would stick to our character based micro computers. Although the term “personal computer” had already been around a few years, it wasn’t in common usage. And, because the term was hijacked by the DOS world, it was never really applied to the Mac despite it being the most personal computer of all.

And that’s why I was smitten. It had such a powerful sense of personal-ness. It could be my computer - my friend. It could talk to me! It had an intimacy about it. You could pick it up and carry it around - easily and effortlessly. And what’s more, it was almost affordable. But alas I never could. It was still a bit too expensive and it was hard to justify spending almost as much on a computer as I had my first car.

So for many many years I watched the Mac world with envy.

But for all my wants and desires, I never seemed to get a good enough reason to change. And it was getting harder as I invested more in Windows applications. But then one day, I decided I could. I began to work on my wife, but I needed one final “justification”.

Why do you own a Mac?
There’s many reason why people switch to Macs, or continue to use them, but they can placed in three simple categories:

The Hardware: This includes the design, the build quality, the machine specifications

The Software: iLife, iTunes Music Store, iWork, Pro tools, developer tools and so on.

The Operating System:Under this are usability, absence of malware and other security issues, reliability, stability, low maintenance

Apple’s website, on their page dedicated to switching, gives ten reasons to consider, and which all fit in one of those areas (you’ll have to read the spiels for each on their website to see why I’ve categorized them as I have):

  • It just works (OS)
  • Picture-perfect photos (SW)
  • Home movies in HD (SW)
  • Join the party (OS)
  • It does Windows (OS)
  • As easy as iPod (OS)
  • It’s a musical instrument (SW)
  • Online streamlined (OS)
  • It loves road trips (OS)
  • It’s beautiful (HW)

It’s an interesting list when you read it, dominated by reasons related to the operating system. I guess maybe for Windows users plagued with both real and mythical issues of which many do revolve around the operating system, switching is an OS centric decision.

Why do I own a Mac?
But me, I switched for software. That was my “justification”. iMovie to be specific. I had always wanted a Mac for the other reasons - especially for their stability and industrial design (I still swoon over the iMac G4) - but when I was convincing my wife - and myself - I said “The best apps for integration with the digital video camera that I just happened to buy, are on a Mac.” Mind you it was still another year before I ended up getting one.

In a sense, people buy PCs just because. There’s no real decision involved in continuing to buy Windows PCs. Folks buying Windows computers don’t go shopping thinking “Ooooh maybe I should really be buying a Mac.” We hope one day they will, but for now they don’t.

But buying or owning a Mac is different. Mac owners and potential customers tend to know exactly why they’ll buy a Mac. They make a conscious choice. Even in this day and age of the resurgent Mac, anyone buying a Mac could still feel they have to justify it - if only to themselves.

And so back to the original question, why do you own a Mac? What’s your reason, your story?


  • When I started to do some “real” development in my job at the university, I quickly ran up against the limitations of DOS machines (LISP under DOS was a nightmare, and my C programs always wanted more than 640kb). Very, very fortunately, the department had some money, and I could get an 8Mb machine! Wow. That was a Mac II. It had a graphical color display in the days when VGA graphics looked worse than a TRS-80. It had WYSIWYG software. It could print on the laser printer without saving the document as text only and transferring it to a VAX/VMS machine. In short, it was awesome.

    Later, when people started getting similar functionality under Windows 3, the difference between the Mac and the PC was still huge. I had a Mac at home and ran my simulations and music software on it without any problem, something that the Windows users could not say. In the early 90s, they still had to use WordPerfect in text mode to get their work done, since the rest of the editors was, well, rubbish. TCP/IP worked without problems on the Mac. Ask older Windows users about this “trumpet” thingy. But don’t forget to put on an asbestos suit before you do. I could use SCSI peripherals, CD burning, etc. long before the PC users started dreaming about it.

    It’s true, the PC slowly improved. Windows NT was much better, although definitely not for (l)users. XP is quite stable and useable, even though it is quite a CPU and memory hog, but PCs have gotten powerful, that you hardly notice. The drivers also seem to have been standardized, so that installing new hardware shouldn’t take more than two or three reboots…

    But man, apart from raw processor speed, the Mac is still superior. It’s a pleasure to use. It doesn’t continuously inform you of unused icons on your desktop, of updates (with messages that disappear before you can read them), of wireless networks that I couldn’t care less about. And the things it should do, it does well and swiftly. Two months ago, I showed my mac to a friend who had huge problems with his PC (viruses, ADSL misery, updates that erased his private files, etc.). He nearly got mad at me. “You call yourself a friend, and you didn’t even tell me that a Mac is so much better?” Since then, he’s also a happy Macker. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to help my father, whose knowledge of computers is minimal, had he bought a PC…

    All that, plus, I really love XCode…

    TGV had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 4
  • I’d had numerous computers, including Apple ][ clones, an Amiga, an Atari, a TRS-80, a PC XT clone….

    But one day I was in my electronics class in high school, circa 1991. The instructor and a couple kids were all hunched over this tiny machine in the corner. I saw him drag the disk icon to the trash. Oscar the Grouch popped out, made some irreverent comment, and then the computer made a vomiting sound as it ejected the disk for you!

    From then on I used Macs exclusively, including on campus and when I worked at Kinko’s (where I taught myself Photoshop). And in 1998 I bought my first computer that I personally owned:  an iMac rev B.

    Make mine Mac!

    foresmac had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 20
  • I first used a Mac in the late ‘80s at a company I started working with - first version with a hard drive.  For training they told me to s-t down and play with it for a while.  We were using Word & Excel and they were perfect in my eyes - add a spell checker and auto correct and they would meet my needs today!  I had been using an Apple IIc and the difference was amazing.

    When I moved to another company I was, for the first time, thrown into the PC world.  Because of the need to demo PC apps there was no chance of Macs and that meant a string of Dells and IBM over the years.  When I started my own company I faced the same battle - having to demo a Windows app.  Since I started with one laptop it also held my accounting program, which was moved to a desktop when the money was there.

    Then came the moment of truth.  The IBM X-Series ThinkPad (which for a PC was a fantastic product at 3 pounds) was due for replacement and I looked at the PB at CompUSA.  I was lucky in that there was an Apple Rep that spent some time with me and showed me how my Win app could run under VPC.  The decision to look at a PB and buy was the simple fact that I traveled overseas on business and the virus problem was raising it’s nasty head big time.  I couldn’t afford to have a problem half way around the world.

    Then the first trip.  After 9/11 airport security went to TSA and I traveled the first week they were put into action.  At LAX the PB went into the bin and on the crowed belt for x-ray.  The yo-yo on the x-ray machine backed the belt up without looking and caused a jam and my new PB went fling to the floor - bouncing a few times.  I had to reseat the keyboard connector, but it made it through the trip - which makes it one tough computer.  Spreading cracks finally made the move to a new 1.5 15” Al PB about 15 months ago.

    The PB got me addicted again.  No worries about malware and I could actually play around a bit. As a new grandfather there were masses of digital pics and movies and I had a computer I could actually do something with them.  I discovered there was a lot of free-ware and shareware and started playing around.

    When the G5 iMac was announced I ordered one for home and my wife now has an iBook she can use at the kitchen table.  Everyone in the family has their own iPod and we’ve got iSight for when I’m on a trip.

    The best part?  No malware.  I can sit at a computer and not worry if something is going to cause a panic.  The last time that happened was on the Dell that was running my last PC app - my accounting software.  The Dell was set aside and I’m running a new accounting app under OS X.  PC free at last!

    MacKen had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 88
  • My story has two different perspectives. It was interesting when I figured it all out and taught me a lot about the view of users and the never ending platform debate. It has made me more objective. First the way I saw it.

    When I got into gaming online, I figured out that I could afford to build a more powerful pc than I could afford to buy. I work with macs but do not bring my work home and since I only game at home never bought a mac for personal use. The gaming machines were still powerful machines when I upgraded so they would be handed off to my wife. At home she did the usual surfing, e-mail and occasionally some work. Typically 2 to 6 weeks after the hand off she would start having “problems”. My wife is a typical user. She is not very technical and “problems” is an all inclusive word. So I found myself spending a lot of time working on a computer that literally never gave me a minutes trouble when I used it. I was frustrated, blaming her and completely wrong.

    My wife saw things differently. Very simply, I was giving her a machine that would not consistently perform the tasks that she wanted to do. It didn’t matter to her how powerful the machine was or how trouble free it was before she got it. Although she was willing to learn to an extent she was not wanting to become a tech just to be able to use her machine.

    I realized that I was expecting her to use the machine like I do. A fatal flaw in techie logic. I had not reconfigured the machine for her type of user because I didn’t understand the difference.  I had asked her before if she would be interested in a mac and up to this point she was not. Now she was getting into digital music, photography and video so I brought home a machine and showed her iLife and a general overview of the OS. She used that machine for a few days as a kind of demo. Then I explained to her that I could make the PC work more like she wanted it to but I thought she would be a more happy as mac user.

    She loves her mac.

    Wundryn had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 10
  • Oh, man… Let’s see… pre-Mac Apples? Check. Amiga? Check. Pre-Windows IBMs and clones? Check. Commodore 64? Check.

    Though I still have a soft spot for the Amiga (c’mon: first multi-tasking GUI-based OS, right? Scrollbale desktop!), the Mac is my platform of choice. Every time I find myself using Windows (at work, or someone else’s house) I keep thinking how great the Mac is. More so now with Mac OS X (especially since 10.2) than before. The “Classic” Mac OS had its fair share of problems, and I’ll happily admit that. In fact, I can remember several occasions of sitting with a Windows die-hard and comparing and contrasting features and ultimately saying that the Mac needs this and that and the PC needs such and such.

    Here we are, and I could still have that conversation. But, overall, I adore Macs. They’re awesome to behold, a blast to use, and despite the supposed lack of software, I’m never hurting for options with applications! I use a lot of shareware and freeware (especially as I get more and more into the OSS community). I build WebKit once a week, I keep up with the AdiumX source, I’m going to give OpenOffice.org 2.0 a try this weekend…

    Oh, sure, Macs cost a lot and you can’t custom build one or get a clone to cut down on costs, but I think you get what you pay for.

    One problem I am seeing, however, is that as the number of Mac users grows, the number of lemons becomes more apparent. Apple’s Quality Assurance team(s) doesn’t seem to be doing the best job as I here about more and more bum iPods, hard drive failures in laptops, etc. The latest? My dad’s DP 2.7 G5 having a bum audio I/O (the 1/8” line-in). I told him to try the digital-optical audio I/O but he apparently doesn’t have the right cable (despite having an optical setup partway through his chain of audio hardware). The only reason he was trying to use the 1/8” was because the Digi001 doesn’t work in a G5 and he has yet to upgrade to an 002. I think he’s worried ProTools doesn’t run properly under 10.4 since DigiDesign is consistantly late with getting its software to run properly under new versions of the Mac OS. “10.4’s out? Oh, ProTools doesn’t work right anymore. Yeah, there’ll be an update… Some day…”

    But, yeah… I’m not a big gamer, which is the group you’ll never see switch to Macs even if the number of titles available grew exponentially. Cost is a bigger factor. Hardcore PC gamers build their machines, spend way less than on a factory built “gaming” rig, and adore their machines and treat them like royalty. Does a hardcore gamer’s gaming rig get afflicted with malware? Probably not. So why use a Mac, right? I for one hope that mentality starts to change someday. I think of the Mac as, “You know how you have two PCs? One for general work and one for gaming? Yeah, you can have one Mac for both and not have problems.”

    Waa had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 110
  • When I got my first computer in the late 80s it was an AMIGA 500. It was the thing to get among us kids, so we ignored a friend of ours (a Stock broker *g*) saying “just get the boy a Macintosh”. Over time the thing to get for the best games (well…) was a 486 running MS-DOS, and I spent oh so much time fixing and upgrading it (those machines had next to *nothing* on board. No soundcard, no CD-ROM…). Then, after I finished school, I did an internship at a company that employed nothing but Macs, some of which quite old actually. I remember how I was amazed about how much you could get done with them. And how easy it was, it did not seem like work at all. Ragtime was used to the max, and things just flowed. The computer totally got out of the way, so obviously my next one had to be a Mac as well.

    The Macintosh, to go along with the slogan, gives me the power to be my best, without requiring me to put a lot of my power into the computer. Hardly any to be exact, most of the time it just works, and while it does so it manages to become more of an aesthetic appliance blending into my daily deeds & musings. On a Macintosh, or on a Newton respectively, I quickly forget that I am actually using a computer at all. And honestly, I do not want to feel as if I was using a computer. I want to get a job done, write a paper, do research, communicate, play music, enjoy myself with my friends. The Macintosh manages to become almost entirely invisible while allowing you to concentrate on what you want to do, and what remains perceptible of it is most pleasing to the senses.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 371
  • Final Cut Pro.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • Windows.

    zzcoop had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 8
  • The story of Why I own a Mac has already been written and is posted on my website, specifically the page entitled:

    My First Personal Computer

    Click on the link.

    Have fun, and make sure your speakers are on!

    MacSmiley had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 9
  • I own a Mac so I can get work done! And not have to think about or spending time protecting my computer.

    All the tools I use are better on OS X - or just a pain to use on any other OS (Windows/Linux).

    Sogni X had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 1
  • I use a mac so I can work, because the mac works and works well. It doesn’t annoy me like the PC does. What annoys me is working with people who are caught in the non-productive, unsuccessful drugery of the PC, and then their problems with their files and applications become my problem. The mac has class, it doesn’t try to be flashy in a mediocre way to ‘woo consumers’, it’s elegant and functional, and takes care of most trivial, bothersome things for you. The interface and messages speak my language.

    Yesterday, in the middle of a major production crunch, my new mac arrived. I took it out of the box, plugged in a few cables, turned it on, and took a break. Within an hour it had everything (like 80GB of files 10,000 emails and 150 apps) from my old computer seamlessley transferred. I was working like nothing ever happened, except the computer was going 8 times faster.

    eyehop had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 19
  • I own a Mac because I got sick and tired of coming home from work and having to fix my wife’s PC, the kid’s PC and my PC from virus attacks, spyware, etc. I got tired of fixing things that had nothing to do with malware as well. I am fed up with the Windows registry. And I wanted Garageband!!! I could find nothing quite as easy and well designed on Windows.  Oh, and I have been using Windows since v3.1 and have used every version since right up to XP. Fed up! When I got an iPod in August of 2004, it was then I said, “I gotta try a Mac too.”

    The Mac rocks!!! We bought our first in November of 2004 and loved it so much we bought two more this year! We also now have 4 iPods in the family. grin

    MacDan2004 had this to say on Oct 26, 2005 Posts: 8
  • I switched in January of this year.  I needed a laptop for school and went to compusa and got a toshiba.  two days later it was slow and filled with spyware and other things.  so i returned it and got a powerbook g4 because a friend suggested it to me and showed me his.  the most interesting part of the powerbook was the terminal icon in Applications/Utilities.  that got me sold.  my PB is a 1.33 with 60gb harddrive and 256 ram.  three days after i getting it home, i went and bought a 100GB harddrive and 512mb ram.  The powerbook was ripped open and got a new HD and more ram.  Since then it has been a pleasure.  in august i got a toshiba qosmio as a gift and till today can’t figure out what to do with it except install linux and try to make it mac like.  I now have a problem when it comes to windows.  I simply can’t use it.  the mac pb changed everything because it just works.  now am thinking of getting a new Desktop Computer but am not sure what to get, an imac or build an amd 64.  i know i have a sweet spot for AMD machines and i just love to build them.
    one more thing.  Xcode Rock!!!

    bozwayed had this to say on Oct 27, 2005 Posts: 4
  • I’ve always preferred the Mac UI, but couldn’t get the crappy VM implementation and lack of preemptive multitasking /protected memory in OS 9. Being a freelance 3D modeler at the time, the only OS that could run both Photoshop and Lightwave 3D concurrently was Windows NT 4. Not long after Be announced their new OS in 1996, I purchased a developer syste (still have my dual 66MHz BeBox mini tower) but the OS was just too rough around the edges and never really caught on.

    When Apple picked NeXT instead of Be as the basis of their new OS, I purchased the OS X public beta and realized they had made the right decision. I switched from a Dual Processor Pentium desktop running W2k to Apple G4 PowerBook Titanium running Mac OS X 10.2 in 2003.

    Major reasons I own a mac (in no particular order) are….

    - Excellent, built-in support for Wireless & Bluetooth
    - Advanced font support [sublists for font families, etc.]
    - Beautiful anti-aliased text [looks like it was rasterized in Photoshop]
    - Simple and elegant UI (you don’t need a two button mouse to use it)
    - Spellcheck built into the OS (Works in Safari text areas)
    - PDF built into the OS
    - No drive letters
    - Single Application menu bar
    - No known exploited viruses
    - Clean and logical system layout (from NeXT)
    - xCode / Cocoa / Objective-C development environment
    - Stylish hardware
    - Apple’s “less is more” mentality
    - Spend more time using my computer than fixing it

    Scott had this to say on Oct 27, 2005 Posts: 144
  • And, like many of you, I had an Amiga system early on. I started out with a Timex Sinclare (black door wedge), upgraded to Commodore 64 /128, then made the jump to an Amiga 2000 with a whopping 3MB of RAM, 60MB HD and a Video Toaster.

    Before selling my last Amiga (4000), I developed several animation and video utilities, including ADPTools Professional (an early after effects like animation and compositing front end for a popular image processing application) and single frame controller UIs for the Video Toaster and one of the first early MPEG based hard disk recording systems.

    I bought a BeBox developer kit in 1995, then purchased a Dual processor Pentium system after the port to Intel, which dual booted BeOS 5 / and Windows NT.

    Scott had this to say on Oct 28, 2005 Posts: 144
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