User Interface Time Travel

I just wasted spent a good portion of my afternoon doing a little user interface time travel, back to the glory days of pre-OS X Mac operating systems, courtesy of the Internet Archive classic Mac OS emulators.

I came to find out about these classic Mac OS emulators via the Tedium email newsletter (always interesting), which cited an article from Fast Company In it, author Mark Wilson reminisces about the classic Mac interface, and explores the virtues of elegance and simplicity over complexity and flash.

Despite its 1-bit color scheme and seemingly unsophisticated graphics, the classic Macintosh (not Mac) OS possesses a warmth and personality that modern operating systems struggle to convey. Susan Kare’s design, especially her icons, have become, well, iconic – leaping from that little 8-inch black and white screen into popular culture and design immortality. And maybe I’m remembering this more fondly due to the passage of time, but that cute little bomb icon made those system errors a little easier to take.

It may seem impossible to some people now, but to use that original Macintosh in 1984 was a truly revelatory experience. There was no color (OK, there were two colors – black and white), and the animations were rudimentary and limited And yet, it almost seemed alive, like a trusty companion rather than a tool. And that user interface was the reason why.

If you remember what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and try these emulators out (my personal all-time favorite Macintosh system is System 6, but there are several from which to choose). And if you have never had the pleasure of using a pre-OSX system, take one of these classic mac OS emulators for a spin. I think you will be surprised and delighted.

The Myth of Apple’s Great Design

I am almost certainly in the minority here, especially among my designer peers, but I have been off the Apple bandwagon for years now and have never felt more free.

I was reluctant, at first, to leave the comfortable embrace of the cult of Jobs. But it was, at the core of it, a financial decision. I needed a new computer, and I would have loved to have gotten a new Macbook, but I simply could not afford it – not even a pre-owned one. Continue reading