I never thought of myself as "well off" growing up, in the sense that I wore hand-me-down clothes, rode a hand-me-down bike, and didn't have cable TV. But of course I was taking for granted the incredible luxury that was the hand-me-down computer. My dad worked in graphic design, and whenever his shop would get a new computer, the top designer would get that machine, and each subsequently ranked designer would bump up, leaving some slightly dated but fairly professional Apple hardware at the end of the chain for me to mess with at home.
The most memorable of these machines was the Power Mac 6100/66AV. With its video input and an early copy of Adobe Premiere, I was editing video on a computer (mostly stop motion movies) while most of my friends were still mulling over an upgrade to Windows 95. Of course, while they were all, you know, getting smart and computer savvy, I was pretty much just dragging and dropping and double clicking. I always saw the computer first and foremost as a tool for creation, and a fairly blunt one at that. There wasn't much to hack or fiddle with, it either worked or it didn't (the classic method of AppleTalk troubleshooting is unplugging and replugging the network cable), and games were always few and far between.
I had to bike down the street to the PC-filled lair of my best friend to get my game on. There we spent hours devouring shareware DOS games, with me looking on in awe as he launched programs from a command line. Sure, I could edutain myself at home with my copies of Sim City, Math Blaster, Kid Pix, and Carmen Sandiego, but in DOS land I could make stuff explode. With the marvelous power of MegaZeux you could create your own games! With emulators you could play console games you didn't even own! I obtained most of my geek affectations sitting under this friend's patient tutelage.
That was good, because in my other life I was hardly a geek, or at least in denial. To me the Mac kids would always be cooler than the PC kids. The Inner Party to the PC user's Outer Party. Everything we drew would always be more beautiful and our poems would always be more true. I was an athlete, a musician, a graphic designer, a Lego architect, and a filmmaker. Unlike those dweebs with their DOS prompt and anime and lack of fashion sense. And while I insulted my buddy's paltry quantity of RAM and even questioned the very moral fiber of his x86 architecture, I'm pretty sure I was mostly just jealous.
Paul Miller, a self-confessed Pixel Density Enthusiast, has been writing for Engadget for almost five years. He lives in New York with his skateboard and a dead house plant. He goes by @futurepaul on Twitter.