Students Switch to Macs

In increasing numbers, undergraduates turn to Macintosh computers

It had a 60 Gigabyte hard drive, a 1.5 Gigahertz power-PC G4 processor, and 256 megabytes of Random Access Memory (RAM).

An excited Claire S. Le Goues ’06 purchased the 12-inch, aluminum Macintosh (Mac) Powerbook computer using funds from her summer job.

But Le Goues, a computer science major, didn’t earn the money for her new machine by slaving away at an investment banking firm or scooping ice cream for whiney children.

Last summer, Le Goues made the 25-minute drive each day from her home in Cortlandt Manor, NY to a research lab in Hawthorne, NY, where she worked from nine to five as a programmer for International Business Machines (IBM). IBM is one of several producers of personal computers (PCs) that use the Microsoft Windows operating system. These Windows PCs are the main competition for Macs.


Not only was Le Goues a summer employee of IBM, but she was born and raised in a family of IBM insiders.

While her step-father, a chemist by training, works in IBM’s research department, her mother is IBM’s vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) of supply and distribution in the retail sector.


“I’ve had [Windows] PCs since like the age of four…because my parents always have company-issued computers at home,” she says. “My mother and I actually have heated discussions about the whole computer thing...she has a lot of company pride.”

Le Goues describes her conversion from a lifetime of Windows use to her current, self-diagnosed “Mac obsession” as a “recent, drastic switch.” She says her boyfriend, who has used a Mac throughout his college career, played a large role in persuading her to make the change.

However, it was the actions of a fellow IBM employee that finally convinced Le Goues to make the shift last summer.

One of her co-workers brought a Powerbook with him to work each day, insisting on using it for his work despite the fact that he was employed by the maker of a competing product.

“I saw that level of devotion, and I was like, ‘Okay—that’s really convincing to me.’”


Le Goues and most other Mac fanatics will gladly rattle off a host of reasons why Macs are superior to their Windows-based counterparts.

Rachel K. Popkin ’08, who is one of the over 80 members of the Harvard group “Hot ‘n Sexy Mac Users” on, says there are many areas in which Macs are the preferable brand.

“They have a lot fewer problems, they’re less susceptible to viruses, they’re prettier, and at this point they integrate fully with all the PC applications,” she says.