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Back to School: Computers

posted by xscot mcknight

When I went to college, I had a manual typewriter. I think it was our family Royal typewriter. At some point in college my parents purchased for me an Adler electric typewriter. Then while in seminary I got an IBM Selectric. During our two years in England during PhD studies, I typed mostly on a tiny manual portable typewriter, and the letter “Q” stuck and that was no small problem for me. Only in my second year of professoring did we get a computer, a Mac 512K. Remember those days? What happened?I cropped a picture of a Royal and this is about what we had, but ours was either black or dark green:manual.jpgI’ll tell you what happened. To quote ABBA, “it’s a Mac man’s world!” (I adjusted that line.) Today our college students all seem to have a laptop. Amazon sent me this information the other day and I wondered this: What are parents doing today about computers and laptops when they send their kids off to college?When Laura went to Wheaton, she had an old hand-me-down Mac with a little thing called a trac-ball. When Luke went to Kansas, he took our Gateway (and we got a new one). Both of them today use Apple; wise kids they are.



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Tyler

posted August 1, 2008 at 12:27 am


Yes wise they are. I finally converted a month ago. Very happy.



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Peggy

posted August 1, 2008 at 1:02 am


LOL, Scot!
I did my freshman year of college right out of high school in 1974…with my electric typewriter. I left at the end of my freshman year to accept a ministry offer I couldn’t refuse.
I left my business career and went back to finish in 1991 … after working in the computer industry sector of my corporation since 1984 … and took an electronic typewriter with me (home PCs weren’t all that common, yet). Clearly I didn’t have a good picture of how college life had changed. 8)
What a joke! At the end of the first week, I called one of my computer tech buddies from my old job and we went down to CompUSA and bought a notebook and printer. Of course, it has a 20M (woo hoo) hard drive with WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 and no Windows, but I was used to DOS-based programs already. I’m still laughing about that realization!
…but still no Apple/Mac. I’m married to a computer engineering guy who can still talk to a PC in DOS….
And it’s not college kids…my 8th grader is hounding me for a computer! With my 4th grader and 2nd grader learning keyboarding skills right along with the 3Rs. I’m gonna wait and see what kind of technology my kids will need. They’re already talking about web-based technology for those who don’t need local hard drives, etc.
Nice trip down memory lane, though! 8)



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Diane

posted August 1, 2008 at 2:37 am


I too began college in the late 1970s with a manual typewriter … I did my master’s thesis on a typewriter, then bought a Mac 512K for my dissertation … but got married, finished my Phd. course work, passed my orals, and promptly traded graduate school for a “real” job. It’s been Macs ever since for me, and I’ve never looked back. I now use a laptop. My children use Macs. My husband and I were just talking the other day about how with powerful home computers and Internet resources, it must be so much easier to do a dissertation these days … and about how much money we both spent in graduate school photocopying books that were kept on “reserve” at the university library … I remember cutting and pasting a draft of my master’s thesis together with scissors and tapes to rearrange paragraphs … in some ways, those were not the days!



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Brad Boydston

posted August 1, 2008 at 4:32 am


“…letter ‘Q’ stuck…” — quite a challenge that could lead to a real synoptic problem.



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paul

posted August 1, 2008 at 4:57 am


“and I wondered this: What are parents doing today about computers and laptops when they send their kids off to college?”
I’m surprised how many schools provide a computer or a laptop for their incoming freshmen. When Ohio University started talking about this (I live in Athens, Ohio) some college students in the church I serve thought it was strange. Not because of the obvious expense, but because they already had a computer coming to college. And yes, it is a different world, but no where as different as the one it will be. :)



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RJS

posted August 1, 2008 at 5:22 am


Computers are essential tools. At the University they are unescapable – for students and faculty.
The public Middle School my son attends issues laptops to 6-8th graders for use in all school classes and to take home for homework much of the time.



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Eileen Warren

posted August 1, 2008 at 5:27 am


My first Apple was the LISA. I have had at home or at work the many Apple upgrades. Our current “home” computer is the Mac-mini a nice little machine. I have a Mac powerbook that is most always at my fingertips. My children all betrayed me and as they entered college wanted PC’s. Today we chat, email, blog PC to Mac quiet efficiently. I can work, study, or play from home via the internet…what a wonderful world.



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Steph

posted August 1, 2008 at 6:45 am


I got a new Macbook a few months ago… my first real mac since the bad macintosh days of the early 90’s….and I LOVE it.
but this week we got our family imac and I daresay I’ll never be the same. what an extraordinary machine!!!



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Brad Mills

posted August 1, 2008 at 6:51 am


When I graduated in high school in 2007 my parents gave me a macbook for graduation. My scholarship gave me a toshiba laptop, so I had to decide which one to use. The Toshiba sold on ebay for $725.



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Steven

posted August 1, 2008 at 7:39 am


I’m entering my sophomore year at Wheaton this year, and last year I noticed the number of Macs around campus. I wasn’t surprised, really; I kind of expected it. People who choose PC’s are frequently looked down upon. Regardless, most everyone has a laptop. I’d be interested to know the percentage of college students who bring/don’t bring laptops to school.



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Leo

posted August 1, 2008 at 8:07 am


Brad – #4 – same first thought on “Q”! How funny…
Steven – interesting that “People who chose PC’s are frequently looked down upon.” Why is that, do you think? Is it truly because the systems differ that much…or is it a money/status thing? My niece said the same thing concerning her choice for a Macbook – even though the Mac was $1000 more for a similar system.
In seminary, it was standard ops for those without computers to sit in the center of the room, so those with laptops could ring the side walls…where the power plugs were. Extension cords ran everywhere – one Prof. kicked a cord out of the wall accidently, and class stopped for 2-3 minutes while everyone re-booted…



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Steve

posted August 1, 2008 at 8:19 am


My son will be a freshman at Wheaton this Fall. He will be coming to campus with a new macbook (purchased with money he received from HS graduation)



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jeremy bouma

posted August 1, 2008 at 8:53 am


My freshman year at Cedarville University (Sept, 1998) I had a little thing called an eMate. It was part of the Newton line and was a mini-laptop of sorts. It was encased in a translucent green plastic and an instant chic magnet! That was before laptops were readily available, though. While we all had PC’s in our dorm rooms, laptops weren’t quite the norm yet. I loved toting my little green mactop around to lectures. It was small, weighed less than 5 lbs, and did I mention the number of phone numbers I got because of my little green friend?
Now I pound out my seminary papers and lecture notes at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary on a MacBook. I don’t know what I would do without it. I hope you didn’t lug that ancient slab of iron around with you to classes to “take notes.” What a sight that would have been!
-jeremy



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Mickey

posted August 1, 2008 at 8:57 am


I was an engineering major in the late 70’s. Back then we still programmed computer main frames with ?IBM? cards. By the early 80’s some of us had TRS-80’s and Apple ?home computers.? IBM was slower getting into the game. My first computer was made by Digital Equipment Corporation and was called a Rainbow 100. It was cool with its dual processors (an 8080 and 8086).
We now have 3 desktops and 3 laptops in my home, as we home-educate our 6 children. We have not switched to Mac yet, as I am waiting to Libronix to work the kinks our of their apple version.



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Julie Clawson

posted August 1, 2008 at 9:18 am


When I went off to Wheaton in 1996 I got a desktop (HP maybe). It was my first computer with a modem – back when AOL was the main option and you paid by the hour. Given I was a high school girl at the time, I went by EponineJMG online. Fun times. But a personal computer was necessary at a place like Wheaton that restricts computer lap usage after certain hours. and closed them on Sundays. Plus having my own internet access (as opposed to the schools’) meant my emails weren’t read by big brother and I could access basic website (almost everything was blocked by Wheaton).
I think I knew of one person in college who had a laptop. I didn’t get my laptop until Jan 2007 (and yes it is a PC, there is no way I could ever afford a Mac). I think I would go nuts without the ease of a laptop. Being chained to a desk with trying to work with kids in the house is impossible. Now they can play in the basement or outside and I can get stuff done.



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Mike

posted August 1, 2008 at 10:40 am


Since we’re all strolling down memory lane… I recall the lab I worked in at Berkeley in 1983. We already were getting funding from IBM, and when the grant got renewed, they threw in a PC: with the 8088 math co-processor! All the labs around came over to see only program available crunch our data for us: The monitor had a black background with “matrix-green” colored fonts and plots. Oooh…everyone was jealous!
Not long after getting married, my wife got a MacPlus. Truth be told, it ended up becoming my computer to get through seminary. We were so excited when we received our external HD! Are you sitting down? It was 20 Mb! So cool!
Last year, we sent our daughter off to her freshman year of college with a MacBook. She had previously built her desktop PC, but everyone in the family has seen (mostly heard…) my sorrows with a PC notebook. As many of the above already testified: there was no looking back. It has worked like a champ for her.
Once this notebook heads for the grave, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get a Mac.



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Heather

posted August 1, 2008 at 10:57 am


I’m entering my junior year at North Park and I’ve had a little (12in) Dell notebook for a little over two years. I have to say that while I love the size and I’ve grown up on Windows, the customer service at Dell is ridiculous. My hard drive crashed this past January and it was awful…perhaps someday I’ll “convert” to Mac, but while this is still running there’s no need for me to make the switch! I know many of the students at NP have Macbooks, but the most popular reason is because there are not nearly as many viruses for Macs as there are for PCs–won’t this change as Macs become more popular? I would need a better reason than that. =)



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Peggy

posted August 1, 2008 at 11:04 am


RJS … wow, are you serious? In a public middle school? What is the size? I just cannot imagine…I’m president of our middle school’s PTSA 8) and our school district is getting hit with huge budget reductions — like in food service. The PTSA frequently buys extra textbooks so the kids don’t have to lug them back and forth….
Julie … exactly! You can get a 15″ PC laptop for under $500 while at 13″ mac is $1000. A 17″ is $2000. Just too spendy for my budget.
I’ve had my Compaq Presario 2800 since 2002…and when I decide to upgrade, it will go to the boys…



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Dana Ames

posted August 1, 2008 at 11:09 am


Went to college with a small manual portable typewriter- sleek, lightweight, did the job. When I was done with my BA and about to get married, I gave the typewriter to my little sister, because my husband-to-be had a nice electric, with which his parents sent *him* to college.
First computer was a pick-your-component-and-we’ll-build-it PC with a 20 MB hard drive. It still ran fine after 15 years- I had to upgrade in order to run a better printer for my work.
We gave each of our kids their own computers for HS graduation. Son prefers desktop, daughters laptops. For the next computer, son would like to build his own and would actually like two, one for music apps and one for everything else.
[Scot, he was accepted with an assistantship to Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State (Boone, NC) for his graduate work- leaves in ten days, takes my heart with him once again... ]
Don’t look down on my family because we prefer PCs… One reason we do is because of the proprietary snootiness of Apple that keeps people in thrall to their software, parts, etc. Yes, I know MS is nearly as offensive in that dept. My secret desire is to be able to use Linux. Am I too old?
Dana



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Mike

posted August 1, 2008 at 12:29 pm


Dana:
Thank you for your confession. Of the few people I know who love and work with the different flavors of Linux, they admit that there is low-level conspiracy to a version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” about what OS they use. Linux simply works, and works with a remarkable stability that goes unadvertised. And, apparently, most who use it don’t feel any serious motivation- RedHat, notwithstanding- to explain how to install and use Linux.
A friend tells me that if you have the patience, there are websites in which you perform diagnostics on your existing hardware, then determine what flavor of Linux to use. I would like to think of myself as patient person when it comes to computer glitches, including the freedom for verbalizing my frustrations: but, this determination strikes me as needing the kind of time available to undergraduates and computer science folk.
But: no: you are not too old.



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Mike

posted August 1, 2008 at 12:36 pm


Dana:
Try this: Linux from Scratch! :)



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Luke

posted August 1, 2008 at 12:52 pm


I received my first laptop in 2002…a Toshiba satellite that lasted me 5 years (and could have lasted longer). I honestly don’t remember having any problems with it. I had no viruses, and I could count the number of times it froze up or shut down on me with one hand.
Now I have a Dell XPS 1330 (with Vista). I have been nothing but pleased with it, as well as with Dell. They have taken great care of me and given me wonderful service and fixed every small problem I had with it. I have had it for a year now, and it has froze maybe 3 times. Personally, I’m 100% satisfied and find that pc haters usually just have a hatred for Microsoft and not necessarily pc’s. It bewilders me when people talk about pc’s crashing and getting viruses, because I have had no such problems for the last 6 or 7 years.
I think you mac people are a cult honestly. I have played around on many macs, but honestly just don’t see the big deal with them. They seem to be more of a status or social phenomenon than systems with truly superior performance. They’re the “cool” thing to get. If I can save $500 and get a pc that is nearly identical in specifications (which is what happened with me), then sign me up. The virus thing is not an issue if you have antivirus software (it has NEVER been an issue with me), and I could care less about the ilife suite. I have adobe elements and I frankly think it is superior in function to iphoto and imovie.
It’s possible I could get a mac in the future, but I firmly believed they are just hyped up and not superior. Some people need to take a chill pill about them actually, b/c they’re not that different at all and pc’s are cheaper.



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Luke

posted August 1, 2008 at 12:55 pm


On another note, we had a guy in a seminary class give a presentation about multimedia and he addressed the mac/pc issue. He blabbed on and on about how mac “just works” and you get “no viruses” and no “blue screens of death” and how much better macs are. Well, lo and behold, during the middle of his presentation, his macbook pro froze up! He had to reboot it and it took him 15 or 20 minutes to get his keynote back up again! I found that humorous and ironic, and it confirmed the ridiculous hype and false hope people put in macintosh for me.



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Christine

posted August 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm


Oh, Scot, how envious I would have been of you –
you OWNED an IBM Selectric??!!! Those were the
gold standard!
I’m on my 2nd Mac and love it. Visited a friend
last night and tried to use her PC, and it was
the pits. She’s eager to buy a Mac, next time out.
With discounts, the Mac isn’t that much more overpriced,
I don’t think. I had a student discount which saved
me big bucks while in grad school, and now as an
educator, I get significant reductions, too.
Read something the other day where Wall Street analysts
wish Steve Jobs would say something about his health
(has cancer) as that might help. He truly is an amazing
visionary, and Apple wouldn’t be the same without him.
My daughter turns 13 on Monday and am breaking down to
buy her an iPod. Woohoo, she’ll be thrilled, and I may
have to follow suit to get one for myself!
Christine



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Peggy

posted August 1, 2008 at 1:41 pm


Luke…preach it brother! 8)
Actually, when I get my next laptop, husband (who is a computer geek, after all) wants to install all open source stuff (he’s been wanting to do Linux for years) and be “free” … as it were … hehehe :D
…and, while we’re chasing rabbits…. I have figured out which keys I use the most: n and m have no trace of the letter visible whatsoever! e,r,i,o,a,s,d,h,k,l,c,v,and b have so little visible that they are not legible. And the right side of the space bar has all finish worn off, but the left looks great.
Back to laundry…. ;)



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Peggy

posted August 1, 2008 at 1:46 pm


Christine…my eldest son just got his first iPod (a Shuffle) for his birthday. (from his indulgent grandparents 8) ) I get to use it when he’s at school (or when it’s in “timeout” ;D )



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David

posted August 1, 2008 at 2:04 pm


I took a ?computer? class during my junior and senior years of high school (1974-1976.) We were bused 40 miles every other week to Traverse City, MI, since they had the only computer site. We wrote code on 80 column IBM punch cards and ran them on a main frame computer that seemed as big as our living room. It spit out huge reams of paper with the code printed in some sort of primitive dot matrix style. I still remember our teacher saying one day in late 1975 that people were working on making the computer smaller, and someday everyone might have one her/his desk. None of us small town hicks could even imagine what he was talking about.
I took a very small portable typewriter to college (1976-1981). I wrote papers longhand and then my rewrites were spent typing a copy on the machine, complete with footnotes. (I?m not too proud of the final product.) I went through a fair amount of whiteout.
Used a larger electric typewriter in seminary with a special eraser cartridge that eliminated the need for whiteout, and then bought my first computer in the mid 80s ? TI 99-4a. Remember those? Cartridges, 5 ? inch floppies, a cassette recorder to hold data, and a 13 inch black and white TV as a monitor. I mostly just played primitive games on it.
Moved to Asia and started hearing about email, then after 5 years back to the USA and bought a bunch of computer parts at a show in NJ, and with my brother-in-law?s help, built my first PC ? 2.5 gig hard drive and 166 processor. I was the envy of many with such a powerful machine.
Have used several PCs since, and have a Dell desktop at home and work. BUT, I bought a macbook (my first laptop/notebook) a year ago and am learning to love it. Still like and am more familiar with PCs, but when my home desktop fails, will probably replace with a Mac. PC or Mac ? they both beat the typewriter!!!



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Tim

posted August 1, 2008 at 3:05 pm


As I have heard you say Scot – When I told you I bought my Mac, I have received the Holy Spirit. :)



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Dana Ames

posted August 1, 2008 at 3:32 pm


Linux Mike, email me please- I have questions!
ldames at pacific dot net
Dana



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Bob Smallman

posted August 1, 2008 at 7:22 pm

Tim Gombis

posted August 1, 2008 at 8:35 pm


I told our kids the other day that when I was in college, we had to learn the DOS commands. Sarah and I used an electronic typewriter to do our papers, and then for grad school (in ’94), I used a Gateway 486. Unbelievable how all the technology has changed. I’m turning back to my Moleskine to reconnect with reality…



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Cameron

posted August 1, 2008 at 10:50 pm


When I first went to University (1991) they had a lab full of Macs in the library you could book in two hour blocks. I soon ended up with a 286 IBM compatible that ran DOS 3.0 and WordPerfect 5.0.
Years later, once I finally got some money I bought a computer and installed GNU/Linux, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. When I’m in the office working at our XP machines I can’t believe how brain dead it all is—I feel like I’m playing with a toy. The best thing, though, is that with a Linux machine you have as much control over the machine as you want. It’s free in every sense of the word.



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Cheryl

posted August 2, 2008 at 9:32 am


In 1990, I bought my first computer, a Mac IIsi (40 MB hard drive, 1 MB of RAM, and a 25 MHz processor). I fell in love!
Almost 20 years later and a career made using Macs for graphic design, my 10th consecutive Mac is a Mac Pro Quad with a 250 GB hard drive, 12 GB of RAM (yes, 12 gigabytes), and two 2.6 GHz processors.
Yes, Macs are more expensive, but I liken the Mac vs. PC situation something like the difference between a Mercedes and a Chevy. They’ll both get you were you want to go, but the difference in the quality, reliability, and comfort of the journey will be evident eventually. :)



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Scot McKnight

posted August 2, 2008 at 10:21 am


Cheryl,
Do you drive a Mercedes?



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Cheryl

posted August 2, 2008 at 11:19 am


Scot,
Ha! No, but I’ve had the pleasure of riding in them. I do, however, use PCs in my full-time job, and let me tell you, experientially, I think my analogy holds up pretty well. PCs are clunky and non-intuitive; Macs are elegant and very user-friendly. Switching between the two drives me nuts! :)



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Cheryl

posted August 2, 2008 at 11:23 am


Scot,
An addendum, I drive the Mac of the car world… a Toyota Corolla… a bit more expensive than your typical compact, but it’s reliable, lasts a long time, maintains its value, and has loyal fans. I’d never thought about the parallel before. :)



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RJS

posted August 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm


When MAC comes in a tablet version I may (or may not) consider a switch – until then PCs for me.



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marim

posted August 2, 2008 at 2:46 pm


We bought our first mac in 84 when the first 112k’s were seeded at universities. We’ve never had anything else, and over the years have probably owned about 15-20 of them between my husband’s work, laptops and desk versions. There were times in the 90’s when we almost switched to the dark side, because of the dearth of software but now there are more applications than I could possibly use in a lifetime and, in general, the Mac applications are more elegant and reliable. I’m stuck with a PC at work though, after we switched from Sun workstations. The IT people all have macs though – from which they run Linux:)



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Robert

posted August 2, 2008 at 7:31 pm


What’s a typewriter? :-)



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Bob Smallman

posted August 3, 2008 at 5:47 am


Marim said, “We bought our first mac in 84 when the first 112k?s were seeded at universities…”
I hate to be a theological pinhead, Marim, but I think you probably mean “512s” (= the 1/2 meg of RAM in a “fat” Mac Plus).
I’ve tried to stay out of this particular theological discussion, but now that I’m in I suppose I should add my own witness to the “truth” (though I understand all about truthiness in the postmodern world of computers) …
I got my very first Mac a couple of years after that — a Mac SE with an amazing 2 1/2 megs of RAM (System 6.01 for you other Macheads). The CPU ran at an astounding 8 mHz, and of course like all Macs in those days had a 9″ B & W screen! I still have my old SE in working condition and plug it in and run it every so often just for the fun of it. The amazing thing is that, aside from editing video and going on the internet, I can do just about everything I need on it (minus a lot of speed and all sorts of bells and whistles). But it runs early versions of Word, PageMaker, and FileMaker on System 8.1. What else could anyone need?! :)



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