While digging through a box of old magazines in my basement, I ran across this copy of MacUser, which I probably picked up at a newsstand almost exactly 20 years ago.
I was graduating from college and about to run away to the magic land of Idaho for my first real computer job, doing computer graphics for nuclear-power geeks at the Idaho National Laboratory (the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory at the time, back when the US actually thought engineering was worth bragging about). One of the first tasks at my new job was to install System 7 on the Mac IIci they gave me. The transition to System 7 was a pretty rocky one, nearly Windowsian in the level of hassle it entailed. But by the time 7.2 rolled around and third-party developers had figured out how to to play nice with 7, Apple had a pretty impressive operating system on its hands. Seven was a bit messy under the hood, with a lot of coding spaghetti linking new fancy modes and modules to lots of tweaked, patched old legacy code. Yet it was good enough that I sat out the beating-a-dead-horse/”digital malaise” era of OS versions 8 and 9, sticking with 7.5.3 until the introduction of OS X in 2001. (Can that be right? OS X is already TEN years old?)
I recently sold/donated/recycled all my old Macs (yes, even my SE/30) and I am now Intel-only. So I’ll probably never pilot System 7 again. But for a solid decade, it defined for me how computers should work.