quicktime panorama (1999)

The original iMac came in only one flavor, but it still had a name: Bondi Blue. If you touched the CRT monitor, you could feel static electricity; a magnet would bend the colors. The mouse was round and had a single button.

I had a desk I’d convinced my parents to buy for me in the first grade. The iMac filled it, pushing the keyboard just barely past the edge.

The “i” in iMac stood for “internet,” but my room was off-the-grid. Data flowed to the computer on floppy disks or CD-ROMs. So, naturally, I spent my time spelunking through the folders installed with the operating system.

One day, I found a folder filled with QuickTime files. These were demos for a “panorama” feature in QuickTime. You could drag the mouse to rotate a virtual camera in a static scene, stitched together from pictures taken at different angles.

I recognized a scene: 1 Infinite Loop. My family had driven by it many times. Our church was two blocks down the street. I had known, but never realized, that it was Apple’s headquarters.

Eighteen years later, I visited Apple’s new campus in San Jose. The main building was an imposing ring of metal and glass, one mile long. On the way home, I suddenly noticed my high school flash by the car window. I had driven that stretch of freeway hundreds of times as a teenager; now, I no longer recognized it.