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What makes the classic Mac OS so interesting?

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Sorry for the open ended question, but I often have a hard time explaining to people why my home office is full of old Macs. I have system 6-9 up and running. Now I recognize all the technical faults of the classic Mac OS, I am a professional programmer who works mainly on Linux/Unix/Solaris so I know the limitations of OS 9. What I have a hard time putting my finger on is why it is so compelling to use. I'd rather fire up AppleWorks on my indigo imac and do my correspondence rather than MS Word or OpenOffice. When I program for fun, I often play around with hypercard. There was a sense of fun, of playfulness that is not even there on OSX (in my mind anyway). OS X is much more capable and polished of course.

Do you think it's just a function of age? Maybe I like the classic OS so much because that was what I enjoyed most in my youth? Or is there some quality that the classic Mac OS got right that hasn't been duplicated?

Of course one point is that Mac OS gives you some "secure feeling" because you used it in your youth. But there is a - in my opinion never again reached - quality:

1) Mac OS provides the most perfect "illusion" an UI ever got.
For examplee, a "Icon" with a file somewhere "IS" your file - not any link or something. The desktop is your computer. The Finder is not recognised as Finder or a program, it "IS" the Mac.

2) The Spatial Browser.
Things are where you put them, and programs/files do not appeare several times.

John Siracusa described all this in very good words in 2003: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2003/04/finder/

What is another point for me, is that Mac OS 9 (8.6 a little bit more, but it lacks some important parts like language kits, ...) is extremely snappy. Due to the cooperative multitasking it is - for desktops - the most reactive OS ever. Whenever I sit a an (GUI) Linux computer, I ask myselve what the hell is goin on there. My G4 800 with 9.2.2 is much more reactive an quicker in GUI usage than every Gnome at any recent Quadcore. And I don

Yes, I think this is the most powerful point!
Of course I know there are such things, but through the easyness of Control Panels and Preferences I have as user the possibility to understand everything, and control it.
The classic Mac OS allows the user to be in control in a very intuitive way. I have the same level of control (or more) on my Linux server but I need to be familiar with run levels, and the scripts in init.d and where my apache config files are, and what user apache is running as and what group it belongs too, etc. On the classic Mac I had a nice parade of extensions come across the bottom of my screen every time I booted and I knew I could find the extension and it's corresponding control panel. It made it so much more "real" to the average user.

Personally, I love the Classic fonts and Platinum interface. Most Classic apps look better and are much nicer to use than on any other OS IMO ;).

It's easily configurable and flexible, and system files can be found extremely easy. I haven't seen anything like the "System Folder" in any other OS so far.

I like Apple's designs from the Classic era more, as well :).

I agree, I think the Platinum look and the overall OS design struck the best balance between attractiveness and usability.


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