One of the most defining years of my life was 2011. Having passed my GCSE’s and entering A-Level education, I had to undergo a surgery on my spine. Returning home after the operation, my brother gave me a gift. A white iPad 2. This device changed my life in so many ways. It was my first foray into digital art. Being able to draw straight onto the screen felt magical. iPad was also my first real introduction into the world of technology. iPad made technology feel simple, accessible and easy. And it’s what began my love for Apple products.
Completing my A-Levels, it was time for university. I was studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent at Canterbury and I was going to need a new computer. The time had come to replace my HP Windows laptop and I knew my new device had to be a Mac. Visiting the Apple Store, I came across the iMac for the first time. It’s hard to describe the amazement I felt at the time seeing this desktop computer. I remember giving a verbal “woah” at seeing the device. But the realities meant I needed a portable solution. Across three years, I was going to be travelling between London and Canterbury on a frequent basis. The MacBook Air made more sense for the time. Nevertheless, iMac remained an aspiration in my mind.
The MacBook Air was exceptionally thin, light enough for travel between two locations and held a good battery life. Moving between classes was seamless. Every piece of coursework and essay was typed using the device. The device was so good that it still runs today. My sister runs an amazing YouTube channel on slow living, mindfulness and self-acceptance using a laptop that is almost a decade old. You can check her channel at Akta Vibes and I’ll link her content in the description below.
Graduating with a First-Class Bachelor of Arts with Honours, for my graduation gift, I wanted to upgrade the MacBook Air that had served me flawlessly. My parents were kind enough to give me the 12-inch MacBook. Why didn’t I go for iMac at that point? Honestly, by that time, the aspiration of having an iMac or desktop computer felt out of reach for me. Unfortunately, the 12-inch MacBook didn’t hold up. The butterfly switches keyboard was incredibly difficult to get used to. And the keyboard shortly developed issues with either stuck keys or some keys typing double letters. Within a short timeframe, the laptop gave its last bit of effort and succumbed to an unrecoverable drive failure.
Enter the Surface Pro
My first bad experience using an Apple product. Apple’s Mac line up was suddenly beginning to look neglected by this time. The magic had receded somewhat. It’s hard to imagine now but there was a wave of Mac users moving to Windows or Linux because of various hardware issues. And these people were making their voices heard on forums and YouTube. Personally, I couldn’t go back to using the butterfly switches keyboard again. And by this time, the iMac had fallen out of consideration as the desktop offering from the company was looking dated. It was time to go back to Windows. My iPad was ageing and I saw the potential to replace two devices with one — the Surface Pro. To this day, Surface remains the most versatile device I’ve ever used. And it remains one of my favourite devices of all-time. It is far from perfect, however. Being a jack-of-all-trades means it is a master of none. And whilst I enjoyed my years away from Apple experiencing and experimenting with different operating systems, there was a growing yearning to go back to the devices that had made me fall in love with technology all those years ago.
The butterfly switches keyboard were replaced on Apple’s Mac line in 2019 with the magic keyboard. I knew Apple were about to transition to a new chipset in the coming months but no one could predict how good those chips were going to be. And I felt it would take a few years before devices with an M-chip would be ready to be my main machine. I purchased the last Intel MacBook Pro believing it would pay off in performance, stability and resale value. Boy, did I get that wrong! This purchase came with a good financial life lesson I’m going to carry with me. Wait until all the information is available before making a purchase decision.
A global pandemic and the last year have made desktops feel like a viable solution once more. For over a year, I’ve worked remotely at my desk for hours at a time. Portability has become less of a need for my circumstances. And rather than being hunched over and squinting at a small laptop screen, I feel the ergonomics a desktop-solution offer makes it more advantageous for my health over a long period of time. Because of that, when Apple introduced a redesigned iMac with the M1 chip, it rekindled the aspiration I had all those years ago visiting the Apple Store. I pre-ordered the iMac and awaited patiently for it to arrive.
During those weeks awaiting the day where the iMac would arrive, I reflected on my journey with technology. Not everyone has the opportunity to experience the number of amazing devices, operating systems or apps I have. I’m extremely privileged to grow up in an environment where that’s been possible. It also reinforced lessons I’ve been learning from minimalism. Joy is not found within the material objects but in the experiences had in our life. Technology and devices are only tools to augment those experiences but they can never replace them. But perhaps the biggest impact the wait between ordering the 24-inch iMac and it’s arrival is this: I’ve been reminded why pursuing and achieving the things that make us say “woah” as a child is so important. And I’m going to try and complete a few more of those childhood aspirations moving forward.