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Twenty years ago, when the Mac was just 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 introduced the Macintosh, and everything changed.

There are as many Mac-revelation moments as there are Mac users. Some Macworld readers undoubtedly remember buying that first Mac model, and maybe even reading the premier issue of Macworld, which was released simultaneously with the Mac itself. For the rest of you, that moment when 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 anywhere in the past 20 years. As much as the Mac has evolved in these two decades, its role as a unique alternative to the rest of the computer world has never changed.

My first recollection of the Mac was not particularly impressive: I saw one at the 1985 West Coast Computer Faire, which I attended with my best friend and his dad as a solid bloc of Apple II users. That Mac was running some sort of arcade-style game. The graphics looked great, but they couldn’t match up with the color of the games on my Apple IIe. The next time I saw a Mac, in 1987, I never used it as anything but a word processor, churning out copy for my high school newspaper.

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, loaded up Aldus PageMaker, and was lost forever to a world of menu bars, double-clicks, and control panels. That was the day the Apple II back in my dorm room (apparently there's a Mac lab in that building now) became hopelessly outmoded, a relic of the computing dark ages. Splashy color graphics or not, it was supplanted by a Mac before I left school for the summer break. (That I spent too much time in college playing Tetris goes without saying.)

So that’s my Mac story. What’s yours? Share it on our Macworld.com Forums.

[Adapted from my piece in the February Macworld . --j.s.]

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