Late last week, I picked up my PowerBook from Tekserve, where a new hard drive was being installed to it after my last one died. I’m very happy to have it back, but the task of getting everything installed to it again has been a real pain. Every time I sit down to take care of a particular task on my computer — paying bills or writing a blog post or sending an email — it reminds me of at least one or two other bits of software that I haven’t yet installed. It’s remarkable how many little programs and utilities I’ve become dependent on over the past few years.
Well, I guess this has always been the case, because even back in the pre-historic days of System 7, Mac OS 8 and 9, I always had a surfeit of Control Panels and Extensions installed on my system, their icons crawling across the screen in a lengthy parade with each start-up of my Mac. I was thinking back to how I delayed the process of switching over from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, a stalling tactic based largely on how ‘indispensible’ a lot of those add-ons seemed to me at the time. I didn’t want to move over to the new operating system without them, but now I use almost none of them, and perhaps only a small number of programs with equivalent feature sets.
Then I realized there’s probably an entirely new generation of Macintosh users today who have no idea how the Mac OS worked before Mac OS X, no idea what those utilities were and how they functioned. At about five years old, Mac OS X is getting to the point where any vestige of newness is quickly fading away. It’s no longer new at all, it’s an institution. All of which made me feel a bit old.