Living One Mac Generation Behind

When entering college in 1995, I purchased my first computer that was all mine – a Performa 631CD, with screaming 33 MHz performance and a 68040LC processor. Sporting 8 MB of RAM and 500 MB of hard drive space, I was good to go. But unsurprisingly, I was immediately lapped, not just by the next Mac upgrades, but by an entire processor family, as Apple moved from 68k Macs to PowerPC. In short time, I found many titles were written for PowerPC processors only, and my Mac was too out of date to participate.

More than a decade later, my go-to Mac is a PowerBook G4. Though the specs are much stronger than my first Macs, and the machine is tremendous, I’m seeing a similar gap between where I am and where the leading Mac developers are focused – as they code for Intel-based Macs, and some applications run only on Intel Macs, leveraging the power of Apple’s new chip partner.

Some of the most prominent Intel-only Mac developers are extremely visible, especially on the Web, including the Internet video playback software, Joost, and VMWare’s Fusion, a product so cool from a simple geek factor, that it has me trying to find reasons to upgrade.

Apple has made some big leaps of faith in recent years, from 68k to PowerPC, from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, and from PowerPC to Intel. But those of us who bought late are quickly antiquated, despite using machines that work great. Should I be taking my PowerBook to eBay and making an upgrade? What else am I missing out on by not yet making the switch to Intel?

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