Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Workforce That's Never Seen Mac OS 9

I spent some time yesterday with a recent grad who is interviewing for a design position with IndustryNext. For some reason, I got the idea to ask him if he'd ever used a Mac before OS X. "Nope," he said, "I've been OS X all the way."

Damn, man. I'll resist the temptation to get melodramatic about feeling old or to reminisce about walking uphill both ways, hacking Think C and Think Pascal code for the old MacOS, with Inside Macintosh open on my lap 'cause there was no "line" for online docs to be "on."

Actually, the emergence into the workforce of a generation that knows only OS X means that Steve Jobs, for all his quirks, has pulled off something pretty amazing. Namely, making OS X successful enough for long enough that students are graduating who don't know anything about Apple's troubled bad ol' days.

I'm still ambivalent about Apple and Mac OS X, though. Great accomplishments include the design (both software and industrial), the first POSIX compatible BSD OS that your mom wants to use, and the first mass-market OS with a native OO API...

At the same time, Apple is still a high-maintenance partner with serious control issues.

Things have improved since the "authorized repair" racket in the 80s, where Apple required personnel to confiscate hardware if there were signs you had tried to install it yourself or put in something that hadn't been blessed by Cupertino (creating ethical dilemmas aplenty for the geeks with the case crackers and screwdrivers, at least where I lived). But vestiges of the program were still in force for factory repairs, at least up to the point just before OS X was released. And after that, there has been an unending series of minor scandals.

To be fair, selling high-end product in a Wal-Mart world is a tough gig. More power to 'em for trying. And nostalgia aside, if a new generation of designers doesn't know or care about the Mac legacy, good for them. Let's hope that their ignorance of the past opens their minds to new possibilities for the next generation of products.

1 comment:

Jason Untulis said...

Having not seen System 7 and the spatial Finder is a shame. (FTFF!)

Maybe I came late to the party (1988), but as a Torx screwdriver owner, part time lab maintainer (and upgrader), and campus (Apple) computer store employee for four years, I never saw or heard of confiscation of hardware. Certainly refusing service for unauthorized upgrades happened then and happens now, but nothing more drastic than that.