By Leander Kahney
Giving new meaning to the term high tech, a couple of stoners
have turned an old Macintosh into a bong.
"Agapornis" and "Prozac," a pair of 29-year-old computer nerds
from Austin, Texas, traded chips for hits when they
transformed an old all-in-one Mac into a device for smoking
"It has a lilting touch of death-like intoxication," said
Prozac. "It's treated us well."
The Mac Bong, or iBong, is made from a water-filled bong
mounted inside an old Mac SE 30. The bowl of the bong
protrudes from the front of the computer, just below the
screen. The mouthpiece sticks out the back.
"It looks like any other dingy Mac," said Prozac. "But it
doesn't draw as much suspicion if you do have to take it
outside the house. We haven't taken it to Macworld, but it has
been to a couple of computer swap meets. People like it. They
laugh. It gets the usual, 'Whoa, dude, that's crazy' reaction.
Everyone wants to try it."
The iBong delivers a killer hit, according to the pair. After
smoking the iBong one evening, Prozac wrote about the
experience and posted it online.
"My bong burnt bright," he wrote, "electrifying fractals
dancing in the raging embers, smoke curling like a halo around
my bowed and fatal head.... The restlessness of a millennium's
solitude soared through my rushing blood, the roar of being
alive skipping like a jumping spark through my brain."
The iBong was inspired by the MacQuarium, a famous
modification of Apple's old one-piece Macintosh computers that
turns them into fish tanks.
"We saw the MacQuarium and said, 'Let's put a bong inside one
instead,'" Agapornis said. "We were probably stoned."
The two have actually made three iBongs. The first was made in
1992 and attempted to incorporate both a fish tank and a bong
within the casing of the old computer.
"We were working on a way to make an aquarium with the bong
inside it so that the person taking the hit could watch the
fish," Agapornis explained, "but the aquarium took up too much
They also found the stem was too long, which made it difficult
to take a hit; it required drawing in too much air.
The second model, which had a shorter stem, was too harsh. "It
was like a pickle-jar bong," said Agapornis. "It was pretty
The third attempt was just right. "It's not bad," Agapornis
said. "It's pretty easy hitting."
But after 10 years of perfecting the design, they are smoking
less and less pot; they've gone from chronic to occasional
smokers. "We're not going through four quarter bags in a
weekend -– each –- like we used to," said
Agapornis. "We're not into a void like we used to be 10 years
Still, "the Mac bong is the best thing to have around when
you're listening to the first four Burzum albums," he added.
Burzum is a Norwegian black metal band.
There is a strong connection between Macs and pot. Both are
countercultures, in the loosest sense of the word, appealing
to people who are creative or artistic, people who, as a
particular ad campaign might say, "Think different."
"The entire personal computer revolution came out of the San
Francisco Bay area and was pioneered by pot smoking members of
the counterculture," said Steven Hager, editor-in-chief of
High Times. "Because these people tend to be highly creative
and because Macs are the choice of most art and video
professionals, I guess that's your story."
A couple of veteran journalists who covered the creation of
the Macintosh in the mid-1980s claim pot had a profound
influence on the design of the machine. That's a claim denied
by others, including Jef Raskin, the head of the Mac's design
"The Mac building was a very loose outfit," said one
journalist, who asked to remain anonymous. "The building was
permeated with a certain odor."
Another journalist -- the former editor of a famous Macintosh
magazine -- said the Mac's engineers and programmers were
always smoking weed.
"There were people out the back in the parking lot smoking pot
all the time," said the editor, who also asked to remain
anonymous. "The IBM PC was created by people who drank
alcohol. The Mac was created by people who smoked pot."
The editor noted that many in the Mac's original development
team were pretty young; the average age was about 25, he said.
"The personal computer industry was an outgrowth of the 60s'
counterculture," the editor said. "It was a rock-and-roll
business in those days. Look at (Apple's famous) 1984 ad. It
symbolized a generation shift. The IBM PC was the computer of
the establishment. The Mac's purpose in life was to be the
computer of the anti-establishment. I mean, it had the
psychedelic interface: 'Wow man, good visuals.'
"If they hadn't been smoking pot, maybe they wouldn't have
invented the Mac," he said. "It would have been another Apple
II, or an IBM PC. It would not have been the Mac. Who would
have thought they wanted a computer to be cute?"
Half joking, the editor suggested further evidence of pot's
influence could be found in the Mac's stoned, smiley startup
face, the rainbow colors of the Apple logo, and early software
like MacPaint, a drawing program perfect for drug-induced
doodling. Nothing like it existed on the PC platform, despite
the fact that a lot of Windows programmers –- some now
very rich and famous -– were also dopers, according to
"We all noticed this when we were covering this stuff," he
said. "At PC Expo, people smell like booze. At Macworld,
people smell like marijuana."
The editor said there's even a special pot smoking area around
the back of San Francisco's Moscone Center, the long-time
venue of Macworld Expo, known as "the office."
"Ten or 20 people are there all day long," the editor said.
"CEOs, programmers, authors. People say, I'm just going to the
'the office' for a couple of minutes."
However, the editor's claims were strongly disputed by Raskin,
the "father" of the Macintosh.
"As the creator of the Macintosh project, and the guy who
named it 'Macintosh' after his beloved McIntosh apples, I can
firmly say that pot had nothing to do with it," Raskin said in
an e-mail. "Unlike our previous president, I have never even
brought a reefer to lip, much less inhaled it. I also do not
use alcohol, tobacco or any other recreational drugs, and
Raskin said to the best of his knowledge, there was no pot
smoking at Apple by the Mac team during his tenure, and no
other drug use.
"I never saw Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak use pot," he wrote.
"What people did at home or after I left Apple is, of course,
beyond my knowledge, but even at our social occasions, drugs
were not a part of the scene. Pizza, yes. Puns, yes. Play,
yes. Pot, no.... I even prefer my apples unfermented."
Raskin was backed up by David Bunnell, the founding editor of
Macworld magazine, who said he saw no pot smoking at Apple.
"I never saw any evidence of that among the people who created
the Mac," he said. "And I was there. I was intimately involved
with the Mac development team. I had free access to the Mac
building. I don't recall seeing any evidence of people smoking
pot while they were developing the machine."
Bunnell conceded that any pot smoking may have been witnessed
only by those who were sympathetic to it.
"They didn't invite me," he said. "Maybe I was too straight."
But Bunnell noted that if pot has been smoked at Apple, it
could account for the machine's relatively sluggish
"Maybe that's why Macs have been slower all these years," he