Preface: I wouldn’t want to talk subjectively about software without first providing some personal background. Presently I’m a web designer/developer/consultant and have been making websites professionally since 1999. This post ends up covering software that I currently use on a daily or semi-daily basis for personal and professional purposes on my MacBook Pro. But before I go into specifics, a little background.
My first encounter with software was using an Apple II in the early 1980s. I was born in 1979, so that puts me at about 4 or 5 years old. My Father has always been a gadget geek, and always housed our progression of Apple machines in the den, flanked by stacks of 5 1/4 floppy disks and canned dust blowers. Living in a town of 1,000 people in rural Maine, there wasn’t exactly a large community of early adopters for Apple products, yet somehow my Dad found a few people in the area who formed a loose but plucky shareware community. This was long before the internet, and even while BBSes were on the rise, software was obtained physically through meeting up with people and postal mail.
Most of what I can remember about the Apple II is playing games: Sabotage, Airheart, lots of Lode Runner, and plenty of others. I didn’t have much use for word processors or spreadsheets at that point in life, due to my main business concerns being the number of minutes I required of me to mow the lawn or stack wood that day. The games themselves were monochrome, 2D, relatively low resolution experiences, and yet I have fonder memories and recollection of immersion in playing them than most games in recent memory (barring the FIFA franchise, of course). To further illustrate my point, I’ve prepared a handy chart reflecting the inverse relationship of graphic sophistication to lasting delight:
Gameplay and story were really all the old games had to go on. Even with the eventual upgrade to the Apple IIc, color brought a bit more dazzle to the software but ultimately the gameplay and stories remained the same.
Then the Mac Plus came along, and with it: the mouse. Suddenly the hardware was scratching the software’s back: keyboard-and-mouse control gave the games a whole new depth and complexity. Being able to run, jump, and aim and throw rocks in Dark Castle sucked more hours out of my childhood than I’d like to admit. Beyond gaming though, the Mac Plus had MacPaint. I’d always been into drawing, and MacPaint brought that into a whole new level: being a bit of a D&D/fantasy nerd, I used to mouse-draw my glorious interpretations of castles and warriors, and paint-bucket the shapes with the brick pattern and the scale pattern (the chain pattern seemed a bit overstated).
MacPaint gave way to HyperCard, and fast forward about 20 years, with a stint in college getting a fine arts degree in Computer Graphics and I’m engaged with software on a daily basis. I have a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, a stereo in my car, GPS tracking my bicycle rides— even in my city the parking meters accept debit cards. Software is ubiquitous in my world, and the pieces of it I’ve chosen are all with good reason. I’m going to share with you the software I’ve opted to use on my desktop machine. None of these are sponsored thoughts, and I’m not affiliated with the makers of this software in any way.