No, I would not describe any of the Macintoshes I used or owned as life changing. My course of life was too much directed towards professional geekdom; my interests had always been aligned with that stuff so that I would not call any single of the computers I had life changing.
The first Mac I ever had the fun of having on my desk was one of the very early models, and I must have been around eleven or so. My dad had gotten it on loan from Apple Austria for a while, and I got to play with it. I fondly remember the sound that the disk drives made on ejecting the disks – and I remember my hunting for paper clips to get disks out once the eject function did not really work anymore.
I remember owning a Mac emulator for one of my Amigas, and even a hardware interface so that I could connect an external Mac floppy to the Amiga. But that never really worked so well.
The first Mac I owned in a while was a Powerbook 170 – anybody remember laptops with monochrome displays? I bought it because I had wanted to install NetBSD on it, but I never got around doing that. Part of the reason was because at the time I had an interest in that, the video card in that laptop was not really supported well enough and the only option to use NetBSD on said laptop was via serial console, which sort of made having a laptop pointless. Another part was that there was no built-in ethernet, and the external solution I had was also in no way supported by NetBSD, so this would have made me the owner of a very, very solitary NetBSD system.
I sold the MacBook to a friend who used it for DTP on the road for a while; I don’t really know what he did with it.
After those months with the Powerbook, I got hold of a used NeXT cube, for which I later also bought the NeXTDimension board. That was quite a fun machine to have, and it served as my work horse for a good number of years. I still keep it around for nostalgic reasons, but am rather certain it no longer boots.
At the same time, my sister had a Performa Mac that she made still frame animations with, and probably quite a number of other things.
All the fond remembrances of Macintosh computers of the past ages must not let us forget that Apple did produce a number of crappy products. They let their Operating System fall behind tremendously before they switched to what earlier had been NextStep; they had a chaotic product policy before Steve Jobs returned and I’m sure most of us remember just how close they came to bankruptcy in their bad days.
But where Apple shines is putting the focus not on technical aspects or just the data of their machines; in how they present things to the world, it always is about the things you can do with them, the new worlds that are available to you, the features you can accomplish with just the right tools (which happen to run on Apple products) and your talents. This is what sets them apart; that in everything, they see the stuff the produce as a means to an end. Or at least they want us to believe that.
And on that note, happy birthday, Macintosh.