When we had been dating for three years, and the time had come for me to replace my much-loved, very old, black and white Mac Classic II 4/80, my husband pressured me to buy a PC. A confirmed Apple person since my first Apple II at the age of nine, I reluctantly agreed to look into it. After two months we found ourselves having driven well out of our way to a computer store in Westchester, New York, which had advertised good prices in the Sunday paper and which did not stock Macs. Seduced for the moment by his arguments, I was prepared to buy a PC that day--except, the salesman was a particularly offensive mix of rude and ignorant about his product, and in what must have been fate, I walked out of the store in a huff.
Two weeks later we walked into the campus computer store back in Boston, Robert resigned that I was now set once more on a Mac, and within the hour walked back out with my PowerMac 5400/120, complete with 16 meg of RAM, a huge 1.6 gig hard drive, a built-in 15-inch display, a TV/video card we would install ourselves at home that night, and a blazingly fast quad-speed CD-ROM drive which periodically buzzed like the devil but has always worked perfectly. Nicknamed Darwin for the evolutionary step he represented over my previous computer, he is the computer I'm typing this on over two years later.
Since then, I've added a 512k Level 2 cache card, a total of 88 meg of RAM, a color StyleWriter with photo-grade drivers, a Zip drive, a scanner, a cable modem, a small hub for our local network, a serial port switcher for my QuickTake 200, voice/fax modem, and Palm Pilot, and an ergonomic keyboard with built-in touchpad. I've wrestled with Microsoft Office when it seemed not at all to be designed for a Mac, watched E.R. while trying to write my senior thesis, captured screen shots from movie versions of King Lear and printed them out for the senior thesis of a friend of mine, programmed web pages so much I gave myself RSI in my wrist and elbow (that was before my nice keyboard), read and edited PC files, written to PC disks and Zip disks, and shipped my computer from dorm to dorm to New York to Berkeley to L.A.
In that time, my husband has crashed his PC installing an ethernet card--which came with my Mac--in a slot which was too near another card, crashed his PC to the point of needing to reinstall Windows 95 when installing a different ethernet card which was incompatible with his hard drive, crashed his PC again to the point of needing to reinstall Windows 95 when using a program to remove duplicate files, struggled to install a parallel (my Mac has SCSI) port Zip drive which even when installed crashed his machine and truncated unintelligibly all filenames on the disk, and done without sound output for eight months after installing a new CD-ROM drive which was incompatible with his sound card until new drivers could be found.
In two years I have downloaded shareware and downloaded demos and websurfed and played games with 3-D graphics and emailed and shared files and done work on my Mac, as has my husband--with many more crashes and interruptions and bizarre messages like"no ROM basic"--on his PC. My Mac has crashed, I admit it, but seldom since going above 32 meg of RAM and almost never inexplicably. Except for my upgrade to System 8.1, I have never needed to reinstall any system software, and the clean install of my upgrade was painless.
Now, my Mac is the server for our home network, perpetually running a server software program in the background. Why Darwin as the server? Well, although our machines are about the same speed and were purchased at the same time, mine is the more reliable one, the more energy-efficient one, and, apparently, the more desirable one--before teaching myself about TCP/IP networking protocols to set up our network (easy on the Mac side, complicated on the PC side as my husband's machine needed to look at the Windows 95 CD after every change of a setting in his network control panel and then needed to restart as well), Robert was always at my computer. Arguments over who gets to use the Mac replaced those of PC superiority; I couldn't sit down to plan the menus for dinner, write in my journal, update my resume, email some pictures to my parents in New York, capture the closed-captions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to read through later, or do online banking without pushing my husband out of the way.
He hasn't yet admitted it, but my Mac has won--my husband needs to replace his troublesome, old before its time PC, and I'm pressuring him to buy a Mac.