“All the best hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs. My friend Robert said his whole research group at MIT recently bought themselves Powerbooks. These guys are not the graphic designers and grandmas who were buying Macs at Apple’s low point in the mid 1990s. They’re about as hardcore OS hackers as you can get,” Paul Graham writes for paulgraham.com. “The reason, of course, is OS X. Powerbooks are beautifully designed and run FreeBSD. What more do you need to know?”
“I got a Powerbook at the end of last year. When my IBM Thinkpad’s hard disk died soon after, it became my only laptop. And when my friend Trevor showed up at my house recently, he was carrying a Powerbook identical to mine,” Graham writes. “For most of us, it’s not a switch to Apple, but a return. Hard as this was to believe in the mid 90s, the Mac was in its time the canonical hacker’s computer.”
“With OS X, the hackers are back. When I walked into the Apple store in Cambridge, it was like coming home. Much was changed, but there was still that Apple coolness in the air, that feeling that the show was being run by someone who really cared, instead of random corporate deal-makers,” Graham writes. “So what, the business world may say. Who cares if hackers like Apple again? How big is the hacker market, after all? Quite small, but important out of proportion to its size. When it comes to computers, what hackers are doing now, everyone will be doing in ten years. Almost all technology, from Unix to bitmapped displays to the Web, became popular first within CS departments and research labs, and gradually spread to the rest of the world.”
“If you want to attract hackers to write software that will sell your hardware, you have to make it something that they themselves use. It’s not enough to make it ‘open.’ It has to be open and good,” Graham writes. “And open and good is what Macs are again, finally. The intervening years have created a situation that is, as far as I know, without precedent: Apple is popular at the low end and the high end, but not in the middle. My seventy year old mother has a Mac laptop. My friends with PhDs in computer science have Mac laptops. And yet Apple’s overall market share is still small. Though unprecedented, I predict this situation is also temporary.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, and programming language designer. In 1995 he developed with Robert Morris the first web-based application, Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. In 2002 he described a simple Bayesian spam filter that inspired most current filters. He is currently working on a new programming language called Arc. He has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard.
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