My first Mac: 1991

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Talking about your first Mac is A Thing right now. It’s because it’s the Mac’s 30th anniversary, and everyone’s getting terribly excited about the whole thing.

I can’t claim to have been a Mac user for 30 years. I think, in fact, it’s about 23 years. In mid-1991, I was in the process of taking over Cub, the student magazine of Queen Mary College, London – then known as Queen Mary & Westfield – and the office looked very much like this:

Adam Tinworth editing CubThat’s a Mac Classic there. And yes, that’s me using it. And yes, that’s a beard. And an ashtray. That rather dates it, doesn’t it? I wasn’t a smoker – never have been – but many of the staff were, and they quite happily smoked on the office.

I think that Classic was actually our second Mac. The original one was a SE/30 which didn’t have a hard drive. Using it involved swapping floppies with the apps and the data on them. That was quite an experience. Still, on that tiny little screen, in that cupboard of an office, using a probably-dodgy copy of Quark Xpress, we managed to get a 20 page student magazine out every fortnight during term time.

Those two little machines changed my relationship with computers. I’d had a ZX81 and a ZX Spectrum, but they’d never been more tha glorified games machines. At the Felix magazine office, the Imperial College student magazine I’d worked on before switching degrees, the serious kit was operated by professionals. With that tiny little box, we could do pretty much all of that – and more.

It made me realise that technology could widen access to publishing – that it could enable it, in fact. And that was the first real step on the journey to where I am now.

But dammit, that screen was tiny.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.