Old Mac of the Month: The Performa 637CD

Editor’s Note: This month’s entry is by Garrick Anson. He blogs and tweets while not working or enjoying time with his wife and two sons.

The Christmas season of 1994 was a special time in my life. As with
many kids, I had a bad habit of snooping around the house to try to
get a glimpse of any unwrapped presents my parents had hidden. We had
an old darkroom built-in our basement (my father had been a
photographer for years)
that had a lockable door to keep people
from exposing any film or paper that might be out in the open. This
room also served as a perfect place for my parents to lock up those
unwrapped gifts each year. After pushing my conscience aside, I went
looking for the key to the dark room in my father’s desk. One day
after school, and before my parents got home from work, I went in.

Sitting on the small table in front of me was a shiny (OK,
new Apple Macintosh Performa 637CD.

Our first Apple Computer.

It was such a hard distinction from the grey, sharp cornered, bulky
IBM and Tandy machines I was used to. The corners were lightly
rounded, the colors of the beige case were slightly more pleasant, the
mouse only had one button. It was amazing.

Not being able to leave well enough alone, I plugged it in and fired
it up. I was grateful I hadn’t tried this while my family was
upstairs because the System 7 start-up chime was deafening in that
small darkroom, and I’m pretty sure you could have heard it from
outside. The monitor lit up with the Happy Mac icon, something I had never seen before
(all my previous Apple experience was with the Color Classic my school
library had). There was no crude BIOS, no DOS command prompt, no
MS-DOS Shell, just a graphical screen as it loaded extensions and then
a desktop. So there it was, all 33mhz, 8MB of RAM, and a whopping
350MB of hard drive space running Mac OS 7.5.

I was hooked, and for the better part of a month I managed to sneak
down quite a few more times to play around with the Mac I wasn’t even
supposed to know about.

Of course, I was not as sneaky as I thought, and my parents found out
what I had been doing. I watched as my parents packed up the computer
and put it in the car to “return” it to the store. As you can guess
the Performa still ended up under the Christmas tree (I think my
dad was more excited about the purchase than I was)
, and I
learned a valuable lesson about not getting caught…er…not

We were a house of early adopters, and had many things before other
people knew that they wanted or needed them. We had various computers
in the house for as long as I can remember. IBM, Tandy, Commodore,
etc. We had internet access for years before that Mac (Prodigy,
CompuServe, AOL, etc…), and it still seems weird to think I was
using the internet before there was a World Wide Web.

I spent countless hours playing games like Myst, Glider, Escape
Velocity, and Doom on that Performa.

I messed around with a copy of Adobe Photoshop (version 3.0 if I
remember right) that my dad brought home from work. I would edit
photos and make custom icons for hours on end. I wasted more time than
I care to imagine messing with ResEdit customizing the look and feel
of the System various apps. I learned basic HTML and made a few small
personal web pages, and even learned how to set up an Apache server.
That computer gave me my love of both tinkering and technology.

Since then I have owned a couple old SE/30’s, a Luxo iMac G4, a
Powermac G5, first generation Black Macbook, mid 2009 Macbook Pro, not
to mention a slew of iPods, iPhones, Apple TVs, and an iPad. I even
just recently ordered a new Macbook Pro.

I’d love to tell you that because of that first Mac, I pursued a field
in computers, design, photography, or communication. That would be a
great way to end this tale, but in reality I sit daily in a cubicle
farm, in a small windowless office, plugging away at Microsoft Word
and PowerPoint on and outdated HP running Windows XP.

Macs have been my escape. I write, design, game, and communicate on
them every chance I get. I’m grateful for my past experiences with
them, and look forward to the future.

Want to write about an old Mac you love? Get in touch! In your initial email, please indicate which Mac model you are planning to write about, so I don’t have systems covered more than once.

After we talk, please submit your work in Markdown or HTML. I will be editing posts to conform to AP style, and will link to your site or Twitter account in the Editor’s Note at the top of the post.