Mac Vs. PC – The Inside Story

Promoting a book is a new experience for me. Being a bit of a hermit (and enjoying it greatly), the thought of casting a line into the public arena feels like a poke in the eye; but you gotta do what you gotta do. Some time ago, in an effort to give back to the next generation of designers, I started spending time at design forums, encouraging the little whippersnappers to pursue their dreams. I got bored answering the same questions and decided to put what I knew in a book. I’m not a writer, though after years of correcting the horrid grammar that came out of the executive suite, I’ve had plenty of practice. Now that the book is out, I find myself wandering back to the forums, perhaps more to keep my finger on the pulse of things (I watch MTV, too).

The eternal argument Mac vs. PC has resurfaced. In an effort to bring more to the table than statistics, the right/left brain argument and the fact that prices have leveled to comparable, I surfed the wave of information to find something new. What I found was a very interesting commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs to the class of 2005 at Stanford University. Seems he dropped out of college and decided to audit courses until he found direction, or in his words “what he loved to do.” Jobs said, “Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.”

What started out to be a wild contest of facts and figures, to weigh the scales one way or another, finally came down to pure aesthetics. Things have calmed considerably at the forums because nobody in design can argue against beautiful typography. So it isn’t price, wysiwyg, GUI, or screen resolution. Just fabulous characters. Richard Laurence Baron an accomplished ad agency creative director added: ” There is a value to aesthetics. It’s not simply what designers like Susan believe. It’s what moves people, often unconsciously, to make choices about the world around them. This goes for a designer’s audience, an engineer’s audience, and your audience too.

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