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The Week In Review: The Mac Turns 30

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This week, the Macintosh computer turned 30. (It's an easy milestone for me to remember because the Mac and I share a birthday.) As someone who plugged away on a boxy little Mac SE from high school all the way through university, I can't help but feel a great deal of personal tenderness for the Mac. It saw me through a lot: sappy screenplays banged out over summer holidays, and a guidebook for Johns Hopkins undergrads which I composed at the age of 21 with valiant but failed efforts to hide my pride -- my first paying writing gig. But as Stephen Fry reminds us in an excellent piece in the Daily Telegraph, the original Mac was much more than just a cute new product (that now serves as a cue for pleasant nostalgia). It was, as Fry puts it, a revolution: "There were folders, windows, pull down menus, all of which could be operated and manipulated, not by keyboard commands but by this mystical magical mouse, a rolling pointing clicking device that completely altered the way you related to everything you did on your computer." It's easy to forget what a departure all that was. And how many naysayers were sure it would never last. Perhaps the best birthday present of all for the Mac is the fact that so few will pay the device's anniversary much notice; not because the Mac isn't important, but because it's become so completely enmeshed with our daily existence that it's hard for most of us to even contemplate a time before it was born. We take the Mac for granted, which in business can sometimes be the greatest compliment of all.

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