FEATURE: 10.13.21 – While most people will acquire a nickname (for whatever reason) at some point in their lifetime, not many can say that they were nicknamed after a certain brand of computers made by Apple, Inc.
Meet Steve Matarazzo, 35, who by day is a product content manager at a software company headquartered in his home state of New Jersey. A self-proclaimed “Mac nut” (a term he used) with a passion for collecting vintage Apple computers from different eras — he just attended VCF East 2021 which was held this year in the city of Wall, NJ (see “Vintage Computer Festival“) — Matarazzo, in his spare time, can be usually found performing repairs of his clients’ older Macs (a hobby that he occasionally live streams to his channel on YouTube).
So, how exactly did this New Jersey native — “born and raised” (as Matarazzo put it) — get his nickname in the very first place?
The answer can be primarily attributed to the numerous assortment of Apple computers that Matarazzo was exposed to while growing up at his parents’ home in central New Jersey. In 1990, at the age of 4, after Matarazzo’s parents purchased the family’s first-ever computer, a Macintosh IIcx, the young four-year old would discover a new medium for expressing creativity and fostering his artistic talents. If the budding artist wasn’t in his room and sketching away on a piece of paper with a pencil in hand, he usually could be found sitting in front of their Mac, using the mouse as his paintbrush and the computer’s screen as his palette and canvas.
“I vividly remember using ‘Easy Color Paint 2.0’ and drawing endlessly using the Mac’s trapezoid-shaped ADB mouse,” says Matarazzo. “The mouse quickly became an extension of my arm and I was quite good at it!”
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Steve: The Mac User
The exposure to all kinds of Macs around his parents’ house while growing up, most originating from the graphic design studio where Matarazzo’s father worked in which older models that had become too slow for production use would occasionally make their way home from work, would not only turn Matarazzo into a life-long Mac user but also earn him a nickname early on as a result (an apropos one that he still occasionally uses even to the present day).
“In high school I was the only one in my art class who used a Mac,” says Matarazzo. “All my friends had PCs, so they nicknamed me ‘Mac’.”
“This was because there was another Steve in the class, so it was easier if I had a nickname.”
While Matarazzo’s affinity for the Mac is evident to this day — his current machine is a Mac Pro from 2012 (his wife, of five years, currently has the most recent one in his home, a MacBook Air from 2017) — it’s his collection of vintage Apple computers, mostly older models from the pre-Intel era, that really speaks volumes (he has over 200 and counting to-date including his most prized possession, the family’s first-ever computer from his parents’ house). A couple of the more notable Macs from Apple’s early years that Matarazzo owns are a Macintosh 128k and a Macintosh Portable (something he recently acquired) but his oldest is actually not even a “Mac” at all, per se, an Apple II from 1977. As extensive as his trove of treasures is so far, however, this “Mac nut” isn’t done collecting and is always on the lookout for new acquisitions because, interestingly enough, a number of his machines aren’t even in working order (no, he’s not nuts… he keeps most of them on hand as spare parts for repairs).
“At the present time, I’m focused on collecting smaller accessories, Like an original Apple CD SC CD-ROM drive, or finding things I didn’t know about or would love to have,” says Matarazzo. “I’d love to have a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, or TAM, but with the prices these days, I’m fine without one (unless, I should happen to stumble upon it!).”
Steve: The Tinkerer
At an early age, curious to know how things worked, Matarazzo would often tinker with his belongings and because of this, he wasn’t afraid to take apart his Macs, either to upgrade them or to try and fix something that needed to be repaired. For instance, in high school, when he purchased a used Power Macintosh G3 minitower, he performed most of the necessary upgrades himself (such as installing additional memory). Or, like the time in college when he opened up and disassembled his laptop, an aluminum PowerBook G4, in order to replace a damaged DC board (unfortunately, he was unsuccessful at the attempt but no worse for the wear, as the experience only served to embolden him more than ever before).
“I remember swapping CD drives, installing Zip drives, and an extra Hard Drive on that Mac,” says Matarazzo. “I think that’s when I really started to get into the workings of computers.”
Matarazzo’s tinkering habit — a trait that he inherited from both his father and grandfather who were also “tinkerers and fixers” (per Matarazzo) — is something that he still does to this day, contributing to the mindset, his own, that one shouldn’t buy new if the old can simply, or easily, be repaired.
“I think the ‘right to repair‘ movement is one of the most important fights we face regarding technology today,” says Matarazzo. “Repairing things helps to keep them out of landfills, it helps to keep things working, and it also helps to give our gadgets a life after their one-year warranty expires.”
“I’m all for modern things, I’m all for thin and beautiful designs, but the day something can ONLY be repaired by one person, for one price, and is under lock and key is the day we lose a lot of freedoms when it comes to tinkering with, learning about, and loving our gadgets.”
Steve: The Content Creator
In 2006, at the age of 20, after getting “hooked” (his own words) on video editing resulting from the purchase of a new Canon PowerShot A620 digital camera (which was capable of taking videos) and Apple’s iMovie software on his Mac, Matarazzo would transform into a different type of artist with another medium for expressing creativity and cultivating his artistic talents following the discovery of an emerging trend at the time: something called YouTube (see the first ever upload from his old account).
“I learned about YouTube from my Mom (I had no idea what it was) and I wish I had jumped on it sooner,” says Matarazzo. “I did a variety of videos on that original channel, from art projects and animation to talking about computers and video games.”
It wasn’t until 2017 — following an unsuccessful attempt in the years before that to jump on the video games bandwagon (see: “GameWeenies) — that Matarazzo, wondering why Macs weren’t better represented on YouTube, had an epiphany and decided to be the one to change that by creating the “Mac84” channel (its name a nod to his nickname and the year Apple introduced the Macintosh).
Unlike his live streams, where Matarazzo can be seen opening up “these beige boxes” (as he described them) in order to replace old capacitors, a process called recapping, or tinkering with his collection of vintage Apple computers, it’s Matarazzo’s scripted content that usually receives more views, such as part one (of two) of a special series on Macintosh clones from this past January, or a historical look at the original iMac on the occasion of its 20th anniversary in 2018 (a popular video with over 47,000 views that helped to increase the number of subscribers to his channel). Whether it’s pre-recorded or streaming live, however, becoming a content creator on YouTube (which required him to overcome being shy in front of the camera and getting comfortable with the idea of using his actual name to identify himself, as opposed to the use of his nickname like he originally did for the first few episodes) has given this New Jersey native a modern canvas for creative expression, one that also serves as an outlet for him to share his vast knowledge of older Macs with the world.
“I’ve always liked the name Steven, or Steve, so I never really thought of the need for a nickname. I think ‘Mac’ (my one and only nickname) was fitting, but I struggle to think if I would have preferred anything else. Honestly, if there wasn’t another Steve in our classes, I probably would have never had a nickname!”
About the Series: People Profiles is a special series that periodically appears here in the “Mac Potpourri” column on MacPrices which feature unique stories about users of Apple products (or related to the use of them in general). stories featured in this series are original and, in most cases, exclusive to this website. However, from time to time, they may be derived from other sources (should this be the case, the source material will be cited in the story). for more about People Profiles and its goal, primary focus, as well as the inspiration behind it, see this introduction to the series.