This is my 16th MacWorld, if you can believe that. When I think back on all the things I have seen at MacWorld I always find it a little funny that some things haven't changed at all.
There are still vendors selling books, supplies and cases of all kinds. Massage chairs were few and far between when I started coming to MacWorld, but now it seems you can find out at the end of every aisle. The vendor selling that do-hicky-thing-a-ma-jig that gives you better posture while you sit has been here probably from the first MacWorld and will most likely be the vendor who turns off the lights 30 years from now when that MacWorld officially closes.
So what about the stuff that has changed over the years? The first thing that comes to mind is remembering how it used to take a whole week to walk the floor of MacWorld. Remember that? I figured out that in the past 16 years, I have spent nearly 45 days attending MacWorld. In that time I have covered approximately 4,500,000 square feet of Moscone Center walking between the North and South Halls. In the past few years though it really only takes me about a half a day to walk the show ... at my age, I'm much pickier about which booths to stop in and how far I am willing to walk for swag.
Remember the floppies? I do. I remember when it was cheaper to by a ticket to MacWorld, walk the floor for a week and collect a bag of floppies instead of going to the local store to buy a pack of 10 - 1.44MB HD disks. I also lived with 4 other guys in a house on the beach, ate burritos and Ramen noodles for sustenance, showered at the gym ... okay that's another story entirely. How many of us got their first look at SuperPaint and SoundEdit on one of those freebie floppies? Remember the first time you saw an Iomega zip drive? How many Iomega buttons can one person put on their cap?
Some other companies I miss on the floor are, Berkeley Systems' and their After Dark screensaver. How many of us still have the Star Trek and Disney packs? One of these days I'm going to write an interpreter so I can import them to my new MacOS X screensaver. Of course considering all the chores I have to do around the house, don't wait up. Remember the first time you saw an Orange PC NuBus cards? Heck who remembers NuBus?
One of the things I have always loved about MacWorld is the chance to meet up with the small software vendors whose products I personally own and love to use. I really getting the opportunity to meet some of the developers in person and tell them how much I enjoy using their product.
But I have to say; one of the fondest things about MacWorld is a tradition that was started by my first group at Apple, when I worked in HWSQA. We decided that we would meet on the Thursday night of MacWorld for dinner. I'm happy to say, that 16 years later we're still meeting at the same restaurant, still eating the same food and still wondering whether we're going to have 10 or 30 people crammed into a table for 10. So if you happen to stop by an Italian restaurant next to MacWorld and they tell you there is no more space left because a party of 10 became a party of 30, you'll probably know where my old gang is meeting, drinking and having a great time because of MacWorld.