Apologies for the low quality of the photo, it was taken with my iPhone 3G.
The other day I was thinking about keeping this blog more lively by publishing short pieces and brief observations (like this), so that it doesn’t look half-abandoned all the time. In the above picture you can see my PowerBook Duo 280c running Photoshop 3.0.5. I decided to fire up the old buddy after a long time of inactivity, trying to figure out a way to use it more often. Sadly, this machine is limited to local tasks, since it can only access my home network in the ‘LocalTalk Suburb’, as I call it, i.e. it connects via LocalTalk cable to my PowerBook 5300 just for the occasional file exchange. I know I could use IPNetRouter on the PowerBook 5300 to make it act as an EtherTalk/LocalTalk bridge, but it doesn’t look worthwhile since the older PowerBooks don’t have a fixed location in my home, and I’d really prefer a more straightforward solution, like using the Newer Technologies Ethernet Microdock (it’s in my Wishlist, by the way) and have the Duo connect to the home network directly via Ethernet.
But I’m digressing. What is worth mentioning is how amazed I was when I ran Photoshop 3.0.5 on the Duo for a quick-and-dirty image editing on an old scan from a Tim Buckley’s CD. I was really impressed by the general responsiveness of the whole experience. Photoshop felt snappy and usable and it didn’t give me the feeling that it could quit on me unexpectedly like more recent versions have done. Sure, I didn’t stress the software or the Duo’s CPU with intensive tasks, but I’m still talking about a Mac with a Motorola 68LC040 processor at 33 Megahertz, with 24 MB RAM, running Mac OS 7.6.1. The more I look at most of pre-Mac OS X software, the more I can’t help but notice how fast and responsive it is compared to modern hardware and the latest Mac OS X. Not that today’s MacBook Pros or iMacs aren’t fast, but when you measure software responsiveness and snappiness and find that it’s more or less the same on two Macs separated by 17 years, 2627 MHz (my MacBook Pro is a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo), 3976 MB RAM, etc., well, you really start wondering.
(Also, you got to love the difference in the RAM used by the System in Mac OS 7.6.1 — 5 MB — and the RAM used by the Finder and all system processes in Mac OS X 10.6.6 — 700+ MB).