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My first Macintosh computer

I must have been one of the first Mac users in the UK
The original Macintosh 128K

Alongside is a picture of the original Apple Mac computer from 1984. Although I never actually owned one of these (I bought its successor in 1985), I was able to borrow one, just after its launch in the UK.

Apple had a sales promotion called Test Drive a Macintosh, and you could take one home for a couple of weeks, without making any commitment to buy.

At that time Apple’s UK sales network were mainly IBM dealers, and I still remember the salesman’s disdain when I collected it. IBM’s personal computers dominated the business market back then, and he clearly thought that the Mac was a silly toy!

For me, it was love at first sight. But, of course, the salesman was right — this first Macintosh really wasn’t a practical machine.

It didn’t even have a hard disk, just a single 400 Kb disk drive, which you had to feed laboriously with multiple ‘floppy’ disks. The Mac made loud clicking and pinging noises, as it sucked these in and spat them back out again, copying their contents to and from its minuscule 128 Kb memory.

This soon became really tedious, and I returned the Mac 128K at the end of its trial. But I bought its successor, the Macintosh 512K, also known as the ‘Fat Mac’, with its quadrupled memory, in 1985.

This model (like all Macs until 1987’s Macintosh SE) was a friendly (but strange) tan and tobacco-brown colour, with a carrying handle on top, and it came complete with a purpose-designed padded nylon carrying case. This case made it surprisingly portable, and I carried it daily, back and forward between my home and office.

I couldn’t have guessed that this was the start of a more than 30-year relationship, and a long-term fascination with everything Apple. I still love their products. But the company, I’ve only grudgingly admired — and much less so now.