So What’s Half A Decade

By Andrew Himes, Editor
Mac Tech Quarterly
Spring 1989 – Page 9

Things didn’t used to be this way.

It used to be you could sit on the front porch in the hot summer sun, sip an ice tea with a mint leaf and a lemon slice in it, and watch the process of technological change as it flowed slowly past your house.

Nothing happened too fast. If something was true in your grandmother’s day, it was probably true in your day, too. Once in a blue moon something happened,
of course. One of those Egyptian engineers figured out a more efficient way to construct a pyramid back in about 2,100 BC, and a Midianite goatherd named Raoul accidentally discovered how to ride a camel a milenni- um later. A lyric poet whose friends called her Croton the Elder created the game of ping pong in the Minoan kingdom of Crete in about 800 BC, and the Bessemer system“invented”in England a century ago to smelt iron was actually used in the design of blast furnaces in the Red Sea port of Ezion-Geber in the time of King Solomon.

But if something did change, you usually had time to make the necessary sacrifices to Baal, Astarte, Apol- lo,Yahweh, or whatever divine being you worshipped, make out a new will, go to the bank, withdraw all your drachmas, and prepare to spend the weekend in Bab- ylon at the chariot races. Then you could die happy, in the secure belief that technological evolution had not passed you by, and things wouldn’t be all that day-to- day different even after the Roman Empire had come and gone.

The pace of change picked up considerably a couple hundred years ago with the invention of spiral-shaped egg noodles in a small village in the Chinese province of Hunan. And with the arrival of automobiles, salt water taffy, and multi-colored, polypropylene running tights, the whole notion of innovation took on a bizarre new twist. Suddenly there were express lanes, shampoo concentrates, and hot air popcorn poppers everywhere you looked.

Old assumptions that were unarguably true in your parents’heyday no longer stood up to close scrutiny. Which gets us to the point of this meandering excursion through the caverns of time and technology.

When I was a bleary-eyed bookworm of a child in 1964 in the cultural backwaters of Millington, Tennessee, the preeminent symbol of the power of technology and the rapid pace of change was the newly marketed Ford Mustang Fastback 2+2. By 1984, the first Mustang was twenty years old, and a certified antique.You could even go buy a license tag that said it was an antique. Another thing that happened in 1984 was the introduction of the Macintosh. And today, just five years later, that early 128K Mac and its elder sister, the Lisa, are both antiques — slow, quaint, awkward little computing beasts, not without a certain charm, but certainly not the powerhouses we’ve come to feel we need.

Five years ago, there weren’t even 40,000 people who owned a Lisa or a Mac. Today, there are at least 40,000 people reading this first issue of MacTech Quarterly — a publication designed for people like yourself who pro- gram and develop for the Mac. And it’s a different Mac than it used to be — that cute, pokey, small-memoried marvel that many of us developed a passionate love/hate relationship with in the wake of its ’84 intro.

To be a successful developer these days, you have to live on the leading edge of the changes that are sweep- ing through the world of personal computing. And that’s an assignment MacTech Quarterly is prepared to help you out with. With articles in this issue on hypermedia development, parallel processing, artificial intelligence, and an in-depth tutorial on how to make your applica- tion fit into the Mac’s new multi-tasking environment, we’ll help you catch the train before it leaves the station. Even if we can’t slow it down for you.

And if you’re still saddled with one of those“antique” Lisas, don’t give up hope yet. Read Chuck Lukaszewski’s article about MacWorks Plus, the Mac OS emulator he developed for the Lisa. Stuff another megabyte of RAM in that awkward-looking beast, square up your pixels, and head off to Babylon for this weekend’s chariot races.

It ain’t all technological torture. Sometimes it’s even fun.

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