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Going back in time with CloudPaint.com

Going back in time with CloudPaint.com

There's something rather special I discovered when going to CloudPaint to play with a web-based re-creation of the original Mac program MacPaint. Why anyone would want to actually play with this may be beyond comprehension, but it has merit, at least, to me.

I would sit at a Macintosh doing just this - playing with MacPaint with the original chunky, pre-ADB mouse, in 1984 at Mace Electronics outside Pittsburgh, PA as a child. The Lisa was already available earlier, but since it cost so much, they did not let just anyone play with it. You needed special permission and were supervised. Let's face it, we weren't going to buy a $10,000 home computer.

But maybe a $2500, yes.

And so they let a kid play with the Mac. At first the only apps for it were MacPaint and MacWrite. If we bought early, they'd give them to us "at no charge." We didn't bite yet. We held out and ended up buying an Apple //e.

But every few weeks my dad would bring me back to the store, and I'd sit there, drawing. The patterns that they've put into the clone are all authentic to the original set, and that's what struck me as special when playing with this. The patterns are seemingly hardwired into my brain now, like other fixtures we've grown to accept in life. Hot water knob on left, cold on right. The turn signal in the car. Putting the flat side of keys in down, not up. Putting the larger tine of a plug into the wall on the left. Pushing hte button on an iron for water spray. These patterns didn't last to current software as far as I know, but they did make it I am fairly certain to SuperPaint, Broderbund's clone of MacPaint for the Apple //e, especially nice when you bought the //e accessory - a mouse - that came with a card to put into one of the Apple //e's slots.

Yet to me, all those hours with the original Mac, and later my Mac Plus, and this program is like getting onto a bike after having rode one for years, but then taking a long, long break. I remembered there were "mirrors" for the paint brush, and I knew they were in the "Goodies" menu. Font names like New York, Geneva, and San Francisco.

I immediately adopted a fondness for this new computing paradigm and accepted it as the best-in-class. I've used a Mac ever since 1988 when we finally upgraded to a MacPlus from the venerable //e. It was those early experiences on the Mac, and companion experiences on the machines of friends (an original IBM PC with DOS was one) that showed me a new vision. It inspired me. And despite its trivial purpose today, the re-creation of MacPaint took me back on memory lane, not unlike booting up a old Mac and playing with the real thing.

According to the Wikipedia, the app stayed pretty consistent through it's second iteration. And then it was no more. I only wonder how many other people were inspired by this simple drawing and art program that defied their expectations for what you could do with a computer, on a little black and white screen, back in the 1980s? Does anyone else smile, when drawing a round-rec with that waffle pattern, like me?

A Gift of Pictures—Iconic