Mac Classics

A piece in Tidbits — a blog for Mac types — turned up in the scan today with an article commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Mac with some interviews with some users … inter alia, “Matt” says:

As a programmer, I’d been working with computers since 1968, but as a Classics professor in the early 1980s, my immediate problem was typing Ancient Greek, or, more precisely, typing both English and Greek in the same document. I had an IBM Selectric typewriter with interchangeable typeballs, and later an Olivetti electronic typewriter that used interchangeable typewheels and had a tiny “memory” so that it was almost a miniature word processor. But the real solution was a personal computer: I got an Apple ][c clone called a Laser 128. This, together with an ImageWriter and a wonderful (now defunct) program called Gutenberg, gave me a full-featured word processor with the ability to alternate English and Greek letters at will.

While teaching at Cornell University in the late 1980s, I met Adam, who taught me to use the Macs in the computer labs; I remember us performing some clever tricks with Microsoft Word and QuicKeys (and swapping a lot of floppy disks). But the Mac still felt like a toy to me, and I didn’t actually want one.

Then, in 1990, I arrived at Swarthmore College and found that, like every professor, I was given an office Mac. It was one of those early squat all-in-one machines with a tiny monochrome screen – probably either a Plus or an SE. Naturally, since it was right there on my desk and hooked into something called the “Internet,” I started playing with it constantly. (Oh, the INITs! Oh, the bombs!)

But what turned me into a Mac person wasn’t the machine so much as the killer apps I got for it. Nisus, a fantastic word processor with amazing search-and-replace and macro features, along with LaserGreek, a gorgeous Ancient Greek font, allowed me to do all my multilingual scholarly writing. And HyperCard 2 made the Mac interface itself programmable, letting me create an Ancient Greek language lab for my students. By the end of that school year, I was a Mac convert, the proud owner of a brand new pizza-box Macintosh LC which, together with a StyleWriter printer, remained my workhorse machine for many years.

… hmmm … Matt at Swarthmore in the 1990s … can’t figure it out.

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One thought on “Mac Classics

  1. Matt from TidBITS is Matt Neuburg, a very fine Hellenist and geek known to students these days principally for his 1990 CQ article on the Antigone. He bounced around from short-term job to job, including a spell in New Zealand, before finding he could make a more secure living as a computer writer. He’s done a couple of big books for O’Reilly; his pioneering volume on REALbasic was enlivened with an extensive discussion of programming concepts in the Euthyphro.

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