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In 1993 all I wanted was a Macintosh. It helped me build skills for the work I do today.

We found my father-in-law’s Macintosh Plus circa 1987 and thought it would make a great photo.

I want to thank Experimac Manassas for sponsoring this series of posts and allowing a guy to reflect on using his first Macintosh computer as a child, and to write about using my new-to-me Mac, my first in more than 20 years. See them for all your Mac, iPhone and computer needs.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I slowly walked down the stairs and saw the glow of Christmas lights on the large box in the corner.

When I saw the Apple logo, I knew this would be the Christmas present I had hoped for.

Some boys my age wanted BB guns and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles playlets. But in 1993 all I wanted was a home computer. And it had to be a Macintosh.

And that year, I was blessed to receive one.

My parents decided that the Kiser’s were going to join the information age. And because they didn’t work at jobs that required heavy computer use, their 11-year-old son was going to take them there and show them how to use a home computer.

I asked for a Mac because Apple products were all I knew. I remember when they used a cart to roll in the first Apple computer to my elementary school classroom, an Apple IIe. I played Number Munchers, and later Oregon Trail on an Apple IIgs machine. These were Apple Computers, not Macs.

I remember the IIe had a five-inch floppy disk drive, and so did the IIgs, but it also had a desktop screen and a mouse, something its Macintosh cousins made famous.

When I got to Beville Middle School in Dale City, my favorite classrooms were computer labs each stocked with Macintosh computers.

There I learned how to use word processing programs — I didn’t know at the time I’d be using those programs every day for the rest of my life for work — and drawing programs.

In the days before the broad adoption of the internet, I learned about modems and how to use them to dial up and talk to the school’s weather station. That was infinitely cooler than turning on the TV and waiting for the weather report.

I would tell my parents about how much I was learning about using these machines, and I would try to convince them how a Macintosh and all of the fun CD-ROMs with encyclopedias and other educational tools that came with the device would help me with my school work.

In those days, Apple made the computer for education, and I got one. I was thrilled.

I tore into the box to find a brand new Macintosh Performa 550. It was a white shiny new with a Sony Trinitron screen was beautiful to look at even when it wasn’t turned on.

It’s distinctive Apple mouse and keyboard plugged right in and were easy to use. They were just like the ones at school.

I took the machine and placed it on the desk in my room, where it would sit through my high school years.

It came with a book of CD-ROMs, and when I placed each disc into the pop-out tray, a video encyclopedia would pop up. I learned about animals and watched and listened to videos President Kennedy’s speeches. The video quality was grainy, but hey, it was cool.

It was also the first time I used CDs. Later, I saved up my allowance and bought music CDs and the Mac was my first stereo.

I spent hours creating drawings on ClarisWorks, and writing journal entries. I made a list of all of my friends’ phone numbers and called it PAL — the personal address list.

The computer had Mario Teaches Typing, as well as a game called Spectre where you drove a tank in virtual reality world in a game of capture the flag and shoot-em-up battle.

I never used this Mac to go online on a service like America Online or Prodigy. It was the days before the web browser, but it did everything I needed it to do and more.

Considering what computers cost back then my parents probably paid a fortune for the thing. Heck, new Macs are expensive today. 

But for a child like me who was — and still is — a bit of a nerd, it was the best Christmas present I ever received.

Until I got my Apple ink-jet printer, which changed everything again.

Uriah Kiser is the founder and publisher of Potomac Local.

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