Macintosh Paradigm Shift


A paradigm shift occurs when, suddenly, a new perspective is gained on an old problem. A solution to a problem unexpectedly, almost painfully, becomes obvious just because someone had the audacity to look at the problem from a different angle.

Apple Computer has been a participant in the only two personal computer paradigm shifts to date: first, the introduction and subsequent success of the Apple II; and second, the Macintosh. Both of these products acted as catalysts to drastically change our perception of the computer; there were personal computers before the Apple II, and there were predecessors (and successors) to Macintosh, but none of these provoked a true paradigm shift.

Paradigm shifts, of course, are not very comfortable. Ask anyone who bought one of the original Macintoshes. But, as Alain Rossman (Apple, Radius, C-Cube, and more) is fond of saying, "When it comes to paradigms, shifts happen."


Bob: I once interviewed Alain Rossman, back when I was at MACazine and he was at Radius. I asked him something fairly technical; he provided an elegant and eloquent response, then added, "but what do I know, I’m just a stupid Frenchman." He said I could quote him on that-but I didn’t. His "shifts happen" line was better and it was widely quoted.


Macintosh changed forever the way we think of computers. Never before had a machine seemed so inviting, so intimate, so nonthreatening, and so much fun. Many Macintosh owners developed relationships with their computers that could only be called symbiotic. We dressed our Macintoshes up with fancy paint jobs, began referring to them by name (or at least by the generic "Mac"), and, according to most studies, began to spend an inordinate amount of time with them.

Macintosh: A Bicycle by Any Other Name?

One of the earliest Macintosh urban legends is that Steve Jobs originally wanted to call the Macintosh "Bicycle." Let’s take a look at that for a minute. It’s been pointed out that in terms of translating energy into transportation, there is nothing-neither animal nor machine-that is superior to a human on a bicycle (barely edging out, ironically, the lemming).

Compare the Macintosh to the bicycle. (We won’t name any lemmings; it’s too early in the book). Efficient. Sleek. Appropriate. If the Macintosh is a bicycle for the mind, then Mac software can be seen as the pedals-also elegant, efficient, and appropriate. They’re still working on sleek.

Are You an Outlaw?

This book is for Macintosh fanatics, Macintosh infonauts, and Macintosh outlaws. If you use a Macintosh as simply a replacement for a typewriter and adding machine, this book isn’t for you. If you have a Macintosh with a simple gray desktop or a standard system beep, this book isn’t for you. If you understand that the Macintosh is an information tool and that we’re all infonauts, this book is for you. If you look for a File menu with Open@ and Save@ commands while you’re dreaming, this book is for you, too. Finally, if you’re looking for a book that explains how to accomplish tasks (click here to make this happen), this book isn’t it. (Buy our other books for that.)

This is it: the slightly twisted collection of essays about the Macintosh experience you’ve been waiting for. This is a book by two Macintosh outlaw fanatics written for other Macintosh outlaw fanatics. This is a Macintosh book that we wanted to read, but there wasn’t one, so we had to write it. As Macintosh celebrates its tenth birthday, this book is our tribute, our way of paying homage to the people, events, and products that made the first ten years insanely great. Take it with however many grains of salt you like.

The Macintosh is a seed. This book is proof that Ken Kesey was right when he said that you can count how many seeds there are in the apple, but not how many apples there are in the seed.


Contents at a Glance

  1. Early History: Steve and the Amazing Multi-Color Reality-Distortion Field
  2. Why IBM Sucks
  3. How Multimedia Almost Killed the Macintosh
  4. Choosing the Right Tool for the Job
  5. Mondo Mac Customization
  6. MacPranks and Macpranks
  7. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Software)
  8. How to Get Free Software
  9. Macintosh as an Information Appliance
  10. Underground Guide to Macworld Expo
  11. Macintosh Hypertext
  12. Macintosh Electronic Publishing
  13. Why Windows Isn’t a Mac
  14. Macintosh Cyberspace
  15. Macintosh Mirrorshades: The Macintosh Underground
  16. Virtual Sex
  17. Macintosh Agents
  18. Bill Gates: Winner or Wiener?
  19. Underground Glossary

PLUS: A flip-book movie of Apple’s famous "1984" commercial on the bottom of every right-facing page!


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