From the Editor's Desk

A little more than 20 years ago, when the Mac wasjust a glimmer in the eye of the original Macintosh production team, the computer world was a much less inviting place. To run a computer meant to enter a series of obscure commands on a keyboard and wait for text results to scroll across your screen. Then, on a fateful day in early 1984, Apple unveiled the Macintosh, and everything changed.

Many Macworld readers undoubtedly remember buying that first Mac model. But the moment you realized you had to use the Mac (no matter what operating system the rest of the world was pushing on you) could have come at any point during the past 20 years. As much as the Mac has evolved since its debut, its role as a unique alternative to the rest of the computer world has never changed.

The Mac didn't much impress me when I first encountered it: I saw one, running some sort of arcade-style game, at the 1985 West Coast Computer Faire. The graphics looked great, but they couldn't match the color of the games on my Apple IIe. It wasn't until the fall of 1989 that I gripped the mouse attached to a Mac SE in the offices of my college newspaper and loaded up Aldus PageMaker. Then I was lost forever to a world of menu bars, double-clicks, and control panels. So that's my Mac story. What's yours? Share it in our forums (www.macworld.com/forums).

Best of the Best

Also celebrated in this issue are the best products of the past year -- the winners of our 19th annual Editors' Choice Awards. Our editors and contributors have surveyed the entire Mac market and found 35 products deserving of the Mac's highest honors. In a departure from previous years, however, we've eliminated the practice of listing runners-up, which invariably led to two-thirds of our Eddy honorees grumbling about how it was just an honor to be nominated. This year, we've increased the overall number of award winners and simplified the process: if you see a product in the Eddy Awards story, that's because it is a winner, and there's a (surprisingly heavy) bronze statue out there with that product's name engraved on it.

Over the past few years, the Eddy winners have come to reflect the areas producing the most innovation, and the hands-down coolest products around. That's why we're not handing out awards to just the big shots. Apple, Adobe, Canon, Epson, and other heavyweights are certainly well represented, but they're sharing space with smaller developers such Coolatoola, Ranchero Software, and Salling Software. And while our Hardware Product of the Year statue will be presented to duly designated representatives of Apple Computer, the Software Product of the Year will be in the hands of a single person: Michael Tsai, the creator of SpamSieve, an incredibly valuable e-mail–filtering tool.

A CD for Everyone

For several years now, a CD-ROM has accompanied newsstand editions of Macworld. For various reasons, ranging from logistics to prohibitive costs, we're unable to send that CD out to subscribers. But we're happy to offer the next-best thing. If you've got a broadband Internet connection, you can get a Web-based copy of the CD.

About this Macworld

Putting together our 20th anniversary issue put us in a nostalgic mood. In "20 Years of the Mac," Macworld editors recall some of their favorite Mac products and memories -- but we also had to dig up actual old Macs for the accompanying photos in our magazine. We pulled an original Mac, a Mac IIci, a PowerBook 160, a Newton, a MessagePad 120, and even an old Apple II floppy disk out of our editor in chief's crowded garage. And he's not the only Mac pack rat cluttering up our offices: Senior News Editor Philip Michaels still has his battle-scarred PowerBook 145 from 1994, sitting around the office, for the day he finds enough time to open its shell and extract the ancient Word files that populate its fragile hard drive.

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