A minor earthquake has occurred in my life today. Last week, I ordered a new MacBook Pro, and today it arrived. I am now doing something I thought I would never do: writing on a Mac, through choice rather than necessity.

Let me explain. I have long been in the class of people who sneer at Macs and their devoted followers. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that they are beautiful machines. I recognise the innovation of the Mac operating system. It’s a combination of the cultish aspect of Mac use (less a computer, more a lifestyle) and the fact that I got used to PCs first.

I still find it slightly amazing that most people I know in science have more than one computer.  I realise this may be related to the sort of work I now do, but I grew up, scientifically speaking, in a culture where a lab of 10 would share three machines, two of which were so elderly that opening a document would cause them to make grinding noises like some experimental dance track. Almost the first lab I worked in was virtually wholly equipped with pre windows IBMs. Every time I see the white text on blue background powerpoint template I think of the word processors I used. To italicise something involved a process infinitely more complicated than pointing and clicking. You couldn’t point and click. There was no mouse. If you wanted to know how something looked on the page, you had to print it. And many were the trees I wasted as I got to grips with the system for underlining, italics and bold type.  The only beautiful thing about it was the printer that produced my figures, which was so old school it actually drew them with a precise robotic ballet of pens, which you had to top up when they ran out.

In the airy central space, where the professors had their offices, was the first Apple machine I ever saw.  It was clearly from the future, like a Connecticut yankee in King Arthur’s court. A Cro-Magnon dropped in amid the neanderthals it was to supplant. I used it mainly once everyone had gone home, other than the occasional worker on C. elegans who had struggled back to tend to those tiny charges with a life cycle so inconvenient for students and postdocs. I used the Mac to play a game. I can’t remember what the game was but it involved a spaceship, as almost all of them did back then. You used the mouse to control it, and how counterintuitive that was, for all of two minutes. Then it was obvious. I admit that at that point I viewed the mouse as being rather like a sort of crap joystick. I also thought, hazily, that Apple might have something to do with the Beatles, who had for some reason begun making computers. I know, I was all of 19 years old and an ignoramus.

When I left the lab to return to the UK my boss gave me an old machine that the lab no longer needed. I glowed at the thought of bringing it home, firing it up, and tapping out my professional looking white on blue documents. Using the hard earned skills with the idiot software. Oh yes, this was going to be the start of the new Bill Hanage. I would use the computer to write up lecture notes, work on a novel, write plays.

In reality I spent the next year of university in a pub induced haze. I don’t think any liquid that did not contain either alcohol or caffeine passed my lips. I bought an expensive transformer to allow me to use my US computer in the UK, and never switched it on. In the computer labs at the university, new machines had appeared. They were sort of like the Apple in the US, but there were more of them. Instead of a single hopeful monster, platoons of PCs running Windows and Word had appeared and taken over the campus.

And I became a PC person. I gradually got to grips with the software, which even now feels more sensible than the Mac’s supposedly uberintuitivergonomic surround sound ponce fest. Over time, I also became adapted to the shortcuts. Now, when I try doing something on a Mac, I feel slightly disabled as the keys which I normally strike without thinking yield odd results, and I keep having to go back and correct things. On the other side, I could see people I liked and respected using Macs. They were evangelical about the benefits. I thought they were basically deluded.

And possibly I still do. What has changed?

Well, in the first place there’s the iPhone. No matter whether or not new touch screen interfaces are superior, the iPhone was so clearly better than anything else I had used to date that it has staked an early claim to my affections. That was a foot in the door. Then there was the peer pressure. Over the last two years, a whole cohort of people who used to join in with me slagging off Apple and its acolytes have converted. One of them bought a Mac to use, as he put it, “as the most expensive Windows machine I have ever owned”, and has now removed the partition and left Windows behind.

Finally, I bought a new PC desktop and laptop in the last year. Both of them supposedly top of the range. The laptop is great, once it starts. The desktop seems to be as slow as any of the PCs I used during my PhD. I suspect network issues, but none of the fixes have done anything. The above mentioned friend came into my office once as I was screaming at it (it was taking upward of 5 seconds to respond to clicks) and asked why I didn’t just buy a Mac.

So I bit the bullet, and here I am.

So far, so fast, so good.