Saturday, August 23, 2014

i Illustrator

William O'Connor

I recently spent an afternoon at the local Apple Store getting my iPad worked on, and while sitting there in the gleaming white Sci-Fi retail store, watching my daughter play at the kids table, I wondered at how far this company had come and how influential it has been to me in my life.

My first experience with the Apple Company was in the late '80's.  In 1986 I took what had been called "Typing Class" but had recently been re purposed as "Word Processing" in my high school.  The machine I worked on was the Apple IIe.  It was a crude machine pre-dating even a mouse and all the work had to be done via Syntax Commands and burned to a floppy disk.  Apple had made a genius investment by donating Apple IIe's to schools.  The primary lesson of the class was to learn to type.

In 1991 my family bought their first home computer.  The salesman recommended that my parents get a Mac since they had an artist in the family.  This first Macintosh was very simple and I used it to write my first cover letters to publishing companies and do some simple graphic design to make signs for shows.  By 1995 it had been upgraded with a first generation Internet dial-up modem and I registered my first email address- "". (which still exists somewhere with 1 million emails in its in-box)

In 1997 I had taken a summer graphic design course at the local Tech school and realized that I needed a more powerful computer to run Photoshop and Quark Xpress.  My parents agreed to pay half of the over $3000 price tag of a top-of-the line Power Mac that came complete with built-in Internet modem, CD Rom and a  ZIP Disk Drive!  The monitor was extra and it had to be special ordered from the Mac World catalog.  These were the dark days.  If you wanted a computer you could get a Dell for less than $1000, but if you wanted a GOOD computer it was an investment. This was the time that separates the Apple die-hards from the Apple new-comers.  The Apple Company still owes me for my investment during these times.

By the year 2000 however, Steve Jobs had returned to Apple from his hiatus with Next and Pixar and released the new iMac!  My expensive  Power Mac was obsolete, and for $800 I replaced it with a more powerful, new gleaming blue globe.  I purchased a flatbed scanner and a CD burner and was very happy with this new generation of Internet friendly, USB ready machine with 1GB of HD space!  I even built my first webpage on this computer.

In 2005 my blue bubble Mac was tired and running slow.  Too small to handle the large digital files I was scanning and sending to my clients.  I went to a new Apple Store at the Paramus Mall in New Jersey and bought an iMac.  This was the machine that changed my life!  The large LCD flat screen was amazing, the processing speed aloud me to run all my applications at once and seeing my work for the first time in high res digital format I immediately bought an upgrade of Photoshop along with a Wacom Tablet and within a few weeks was working completely digitally.

In 2009 I replaced my iMac with a new version OSX and this year have once again upgraded to the 27" iMac, but I consider this all the same machine.  I estimate that I have illustrated over 3000 digital illos on these machines in the past decade, written five books and emailed and blogged millions of times. This one machine has transformed the way artists make, sell and communicate about art.  Apple has been as influential as Ford or Kodak in altering the way people live.  

As I sit in the crowded Apple Store with my daughter who asks "Daddy, did they have iPads when you were a kid?"  I can't help but wonder what her life will look like in twenty years.