How can I boil down all there was at this great showplace, held January 4-8, 1999 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center?  As a Mac-preferred computer enthusiast, I can’t think of a better place to see all that’s new with Macs and for Macs from Apple and from everyone else.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s charismatic founder and now its (permanent?) Interim CEO unveiled five new iMac colors and the upgraded iMac lineup.  He announced and demonstrated the hot new lineup of G3 Macs targeting the pro market.  Have a look for yourself at http://www.apple.com.   He alluded to a profitable quarter, again.  Since Macworld, Apple has reported a $152 Million profit for the past quarter.  Congrats, Apple!  These announcements and product demos were nothing short of spectacular, further evidence that, not only is the Mac not dead, but the Mac is THE computer of choice for those in the know.

Another announcement from Steve was the renewed commitment by Apple to make the Mac the premiere gaming computer in the industry. To this end, he revealed that the new Macs would be equipped with the latest and greatest ATI 2D and 3D hardware, built-in on the motherboard.  No add-ons for Mac users are needed, unlike the PC world.  The gaming community is psyched.

The most interesting and intriguing announcement was from Connectix, the same company that brought us VirtualPC, RAM Doubler and Speed Doubler, among others.  Called Virtual Game Station, this software allows Mac users to play most Sony PlayStation games ON THE MAC!  Not vaporware at all, I have and use this software, and it works just great, and it’s exclusively for the Mac at this time.  Not bad for a $49 piece of software!  Maybe Jobs should just buy Connectix and lock in this software for the Mac only.

This is singularly one of the most important pieces of software ever.  Why?  Well, just think about it.  The wildly popular PlayStation is now available for every new Mac buyer without an added hardware investment.  According to Connectix, Virtual Game Station will operate with acceptable performance on G3 Macs with processor speeds of 233MHz and higher.  I tried it on my original 233 MHz iMac and on my 266 MHz G3 desktop unit, both with excellent results. Just imagine, buy a Mac, spend just $49 more and get a PlayStation. Sony isn’t happy about this development and has filed a lawsuit.  According to Connectix, they didn’t steal anything and didn’t copy anything from Sony.  They cleverly reverse-engineered the PlayStation and duplicated its functionality in software for the Mac only.  Connectix feels this is not in any way an infringement upon Sony’s patents or technology.  More power to Connectix!  This is really fun.

Don’t be surprised if your PlayStation games actually play and look better on your Mac than on the PlayStation itself.  The PlayStation controller is emulated by keyboard moves, and this is the only difficult part of the product’s usability, in my view.  What we really need is a USB plug-in PlayStation controller for the iMac and other new G3 Macs.  Older G3 Macs can install a USB board in their PCI slot.  Are you listening, CHProducts?  Gravis is set to provide in March a USB GamePad Pro that may be perfect for use with this software.  Is it easy to use?  Sure.  Load the software and launch it.  The screen prompts the user to insert the PlayStation game CD.  Do that and that’s all.  Could it be any easier?  Hey, what did you expect, this is a Mac!

Virtual Game Station from Connectix is spectacular and a must-have for almost everyone reading this.  I am not a huge game fan, in the traditional sense.  I have not been a big fan of the PlayStation, primarily due to the fact that most games have been on the hard core side.  Too much killing, maiming and mutilating for my tastes.  Lately, though, within this past year or so, there has been a significant number of PlayStation titles that are safe and fun, without all the blood and guts.  At this writing, Connectix Virtual Game Station is not yet available at the retail level just as version 1.1 has been announced and is said to soon be in stores, online and in catalogs.  Unless Sony can stop them!  When the dust settles, this will be a big seller.  I just found a great write-up on this product here.

So, now, there’s a new reason to buy a Mac, any new Mac.  I wonder if Connectix will do the same thing for Sega’s exciting new system, Dreamcast, coming later this year to the US.

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