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Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Mac Attac
Once the underdogs on campus, Macintosh computers are gaining ground on PCs
Story by Chrissy Braden • Illustration by J. Kent Ladewig

TCU was in the process of abolishing Macintosh computers on campus in 1998, when Chancellor Michael Ferarri, who came from a university that only used Macs, arrived to save the apple of his eye.

Or so the story goes.

In actuality, Dick Rinewalt, chairman of computer science, said neither IBM-compatible nor Mac computers could ever be banished from campus because students need the experience of both platforms to be prepared for careers after college.

English department chairman David Vanderwerken, who attributes an increase in Mac users to Ferrari’s personal preference, said his department has an equal number of Macs and IBM-compatible computers.

Ferarri said students have needs and preferences for both Mac and IBM-compatible computers, so both platforms are needed at the university.

“When I came to TCU, I emphasized that we should have and would have a multi-platform environment for computing on our campus,” Ferrari said.

Rinewalt said the computer science department switched to platform-neutral Java software, which runs on both computer platforms, three years ago.

“We emphasize developing software rather than just learning it,” he said. “So it’s essential to us that our graduates have exposure to every platform, because that’s what they’ll have to deal with when they get out in the real world.”

Richard Bonner, a sales development executive at Mac, said the company has had a rebirth since the iMac, a desktop computer, was released and Steve Jobs became CEO in 1998.

Bonner said faster speed, lower prices and innovative technology have helped to increase the popularity of Macs.

“Macs are more user-friendly,” he said.

iMac is priced from $999 and iBook, a Mac laptop computer, is priced from $1,299, according to the Mac Web site (

Steven Ogden, a technology specialist at Office Depot on SW Loop 820, said Compaq offers a desktop computer from $999 and a laptop computer from $1,299 as well.

Ogden said he had not noticed a decrease in IBM-compatible computer sales since Mac heightened its competition. IBM-compatible computers offer more software than Macs, but he isn’t aware of an industry that would need an IBM-compatible rather than a Mac computer, he said.

Bonner said that although there is always a threat for one computer company to be dominated by another, he thinks Macs are in a safe position because the creative community relies on them for high speed in running things such as 3-D programs.

Ferarri said there are still some people at TCU who think the school should have only IBM-compatible computers, but he thinks Mac users on campus find that platform environment much more suitable for teaching and learning in their disciplines.

Bonner said Macs are number one in the education environment and are continuing to gain new ground.

“Perception is changing,” he said. “And our new (server) OS X will put us into a league that will really revitalize us.”

Anne Ramos, a junior political science major who is a Compaq user, said she thinks both platforms should be offered on campus.

“I prefer Compaq a zillion times over,” Ramos said. “It’s a more familiar system to me.”

Ferarri agreed students need the option of either platform.

“We have both platforms at TCU today, as it should be,” Ferarri said.

Chrissy Braden


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