In our studio we keep some mementos of tech-gone-by. We have some old (and some very old) macs and a few other tech artifacts of times past – the tools we had used to use to carefully hone our craft.

I often think back 10-15 years. It almost seems like our Macs were angry at the time. They often lost their cool and crashed. Upgrading or making minor modifications to anything system related was an exciting but perilous task. Perhaps they were a temperature gauge of the times, when Apple almost disappeared. Frayed and on edge, but with creative blood still flowing through their veins; aging rock stars.

We had interfaces like Serial, SCSI, ADB (Apple Desktop Bus), IDE and PCI-X. Protocols like AppleTalk and Localtalk. 20″ Viewsonic graphic-series monitors ruled the roost. We used disks: Zip, SyQuest, and Jaz. CD Burning on a budget was a black art. Buying accessories was a single aisle shopping trip. Hardware upgrades were the norm, but every now and then a software upgrade could blow our minds (RAM Doubler or Speed Doubler). Everyone had what they considered essential software to make a Mac stable (Conflict Catcher). Often the type of Mac you had defined your role.

Thankfully that has changed…

Now we can setup any Plank employee on the computer that suits their preferences and they’re ready to run for the job they need to do. Our differences aren’t in hardware but in software. Even then — with the underpinnings of OSX running so well — the individual configurations needed to adapt to our workflow gets shallower every month. My Mac can do it all (in #webdev) with only minor tweaks.

Decentralization and virtualization are the new norm. Gone are the days when testing under a different operating system meant getting up and walking over to a testing computer. Adieu to the days when only one person could work on a set of files at a time, not to overwrite each others’ changes. Farewell to costly servers which limited our ability to experiment and improve the way we work.

I sometimes miss the time when we knew every single file visible in the system because we had to, and that we’d build up our configuration like a house of cards, knowing the load order and the conflicts to avoid. There was craft to the build. Now that hardware details matter a lot less, we’re happy to focus on our workflow rather than the intricacies of what is happening under the hood.

So fare-thee-well:

SCSI, ADB, Ram Doubler, Zip drives, Jaz drives, SyQuest, AppleTalk, ADP cards, PCI cards, Newer Technology upgrades to your processor, Expensive RAM, (Add your faves).

Seems like we can finally get some work done!

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