• Reading the Steve Jobs bio and thinking back on my favorite Mac of all time.
I’m nearing the end of the Steve Jobs bio, and the book has me ruminating on so many things, but especially the various Macs I’ve owned. Here’s the list: Mac 512K, Mac SE-30, Powerbook 170, some mid-90s beige box, Powerbook G3, Titanium Powerbook G4, Macbook Pro, Mac Pro. Of all of these machines, just one truly stands out, the Powerbook 170. I bought it in 1990 before heading off to Europe, where I used it to write letters home, work on my first spec book for advertising, do translation/transcreation work, design business cards, design brochures, begin way too many short stories, everything. Yes, it looks clunky now, a pathetically boxy slab of grey plastic, but at the time it was a sleek little computer with good power and worth a lingering look. Speaking of, I remember reading
at the time about Barry Diller and how he was starting new ventures and his computer of choice was a Powerbook 170, which, according to the reporter, Diller kept looking at with something akin wonder and love.
There’s so much I remember about using my Powerbook: the active matrix gray scale screen, the track ball, the way my hands would turn purple during the winter while I typed away in my unheated room, the various adaptors I had to use to plug it in. I have saved that old computer and will never part with it, though it is most certainly nearly useless today. My Mac Book Pro is superior to the 170 in every way, a testimony to Steve Jobs’ relentless pursuit of building insanely great stuff, but emotionally I’m not, and never will be, as attached to it. Here’s to the Powerbook 170, the greatest Mac of all time, at least for me. And here’s to Steve Jobs for building the company that built it and for rebuilding that company today.