We’ll start with Apple, for obvious if un-alphabetical reasons. Why name a computer company after a fruit? Was it a tactic to be at the start of all lists of computer manufacturers in the same way that business telephone directories start with swathes of names such as of AAA111 Taxis? Apparently not, and anyway Acorn jumped in ahead of it.
One story has it that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs used to pick apples while at a commune and chose this rather loose connection as inspiration (source: ‘The Little Kingdom’ by Michael Moritz).
Another story is that Fab Four fan Jobs nicked the name from the Beatles’ label Apple Records – a decision that would later involve it in endlessly boring legal wrangles when Jobs and co released iTunes and so forth.
Other names thrown in the ring for the two Steves’ fresh new computer company included the mouse-swallowingly bad Executek and Matrix Electronics. (Source: ‘Apple Confidential 2.0’ by Owen Linzmayer)
Macworld has gathered more on why Apple is called Apple.
Woz has said that “to a marketer Apple was an odd name. It came from the days when you picked an interesting, fun name for a company. You do that when you’re on a hobby basis. The ad agency kept telling us the name had to be changed. We had to have a name that suggested technology, number crunching, calculations, databases. We took the attitude that Apple is a good name. Our computer would be friendly-everything an apple represents, healthy, personal, in the home. We had to hold our ground on that one.”
Whatever the story Apple was a great name for the new startup, and the antithesis of the old guard of Hewlett-Packard, Fairchild, etc. As Michael Malone writes in his Apple history ‘Infinite Loop’ the Apple name was “smart, funny, anti-establishment, unforgettable, friendly but hip.” It wasn’t just a name “it was the culmination of the Age of Aquarius”.
Once a great ally of Apple and partner pioneer in desktop publishing’s marriage of PostScript and Apple’s Mac and LaserWriter Adobe fell from grace when the once-faithful design software partner apparently abandoned Apple at its lowest moment.
Adobe jilted the Mac from key program upgrades (most notably with its Premiere video-editing software), forcing Apple to create its own alternatives (Final Cut, which it bought from Macromedia before Adobe bought that company itself – it’s incestuous industry, isn’t it, which means perceived slights and public proclamations often lead to nasty little tit-for-tat battles such as this one).
Steve Jobs saw this as a revolting betrayal from the company that Apple once owned a 15% stake in. He then wreaked his revenge by denying Adobe’s Flash access to Apple’s new wonderproducts the iPhone and iPad.
The 10kbps Apple Desktop Bus was Apple’s main connector for decades. The company needed a simple, inexpensive connection system. Co-founder Steve Wozniak needed something to do, so he went away for a month and came back with ADB. First seen on the Apple IIGS in 1986 it wasn’t superseded until 1998’s Bondi Blue iMac, which moved to Intel’s USB 1.0.
Older Apple users will remember that the one problem with ADB was that you weren’t supposed to unplug your mouse or keyboard while the Mac was powered on, although most of us risked frying the keyboard every now and again. Life’s too short, and all that.
Except for maybe banging an inter-cap in its names, Apple loves nothing more than a smart but dull pun – and so picked AirPort as the title for its Wi-Fi products in 1999. Confusingly the first AirPort Base Station actually resembled a UFO. It has to be admitted, however, that it’s catchier than the more formal IEEE 802.11.
(Or aluminium as we outside of the US jauntily like to call it) “We’re turning to aluminum and glass” Steve Jobs announced in 2007.
Apple has something of a crush on aluminum – making most of its hardware products out of the silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements, and even simulating the stuff indiscriminately with its brushed metal software and across its website.
Apple even named some of its products after the lightweight and durable metal.
There’s plenty of it, too – aluminium is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, and the third most abundant element after oxygen and silicon. It makes up about 8 percent by weight of the Earth’s solid surface, and about the same on the average active Mac’s screen.
When you think of Apple leaders you probably recall the visionary legend that is Steve Jobs or his cuddly ewok-like co-founder Woz. But for over a dozen dark years Steve was absent from the company he founded and lesser men stood in his place.
At its lowest point Apple’s board of directors appointed the cost-cutting CEO of National Semiconductor Gil Amelio as the company’s new boss in order to return Apple to profitability. Receiving $100,000 for use of his private jet while on Apple business wasn’t the best start in Amelio’s austerity measures – nor was his $1m salary or nice little $5m loan he procured from the ailing giant.
But Amelio did cut costs, slashing the Apple workforce by a third. In scrapping the next-generation Copland operating system Amelio did his best work bringing back Steve Jobs via Apple’s acquisition of his NeXT OS in 1996 – which turned out to be the business world’s most successful takeover but also the most expensive career suicide. Jobs wasted little time turfing out the garrulous Amelio (who he had slamed as a “bozo”) and taking back his company – and for that we should be eternally grateful.
Long before Time Warner and the Internet boom Apple replaced its unwanted AppleLink online service with a joint venture with a company called Quantum, then rebranded America Online. As part of the deal it acquired 2m shares of AOL stock at a cost of $12.5m – 5 percent of the company. Apple sold the shares in 1996 at a profit of $39m. If it had waited till 1999 when AOL’s stock peaked those same shares would have been worth … wait for it … $24.5 billion. (Source: ‘Apple Confidential 2.0’, Linzmayer)
Exactly like an “application” but cuter sounding and much easier to squeeze puns from. Some people probably think Apple invented them, too. There was also once talk of “applets”, but thankfully this never really caught on.
Following on from the primitive Apple I Apple produced what was to become one of the most successful personal computers ever. The Apple II, the real brainchild of Woz, was the product that launched the company, and made the majority of Apple’s revenue throughout the 1980s despite its fancy focus on the sexier Macintosh.
How do you follow the world’s most popular computer? With an abject failure, of course. What do you name the successor to the Apple II. Well, the Apple III, of course. Tellingly there has never been an Apple IV. Launched in 1980 the Apple III was the first Apple product that allowed the user to choose a screen font, but wasn’t helped when Apple had to recall the first 14,000 off the assembly line. Its reputation never recovered. According to Steve Wozniak the Apple III “had 100 percent hardware failures” – many of which were the results of Steve Jobs’ demands that it had no fan or air vents.
Before the Apple Store came (or rather didn’t come) the Apple Café – a 1996 proposed chain of themed restaurants featuring video-conferencing units and a range of Apple T-shirts and software. The food was to have been eclectic and nutritious but the idea expired when the licensee grew too worried about Apple’s failing health.
Apple has always had a deep link with music – even cheekily naming itself after the Beatles record label (maybe; consults lawyers…). In January 2011 Apple launched iTunes, which ended up revolutionising the music industry, which was still churning out 78rpm records or something. iTunes itself was looking dated compared to Swedish music streaming service Spotify, so Apple splashed out $3 billion on headphone manufacturer Beats, which also had its own music-streaming service called Beats Music. Apple turned this into Apple Music, and promises maybe not to revolutionise music again but certainly kick Spotify into touch.
Not yet selling Apple coffees, the luxuriously appointed Apple Store looked like an act from the last days of Rome when first shown off by Steve Jobs in 2001, but there are now over 500 spread across the world generating billions of sales and forcing envious but doomed copycat moves from the likes of Microsoft. For a while, the two largest Apple Stores were both in London – although there’s now an even bigger one in Dubai. Sydney’s George Street Apple Store has the largest Apple logo on its signage, and the tallest one is in Tokyo’s Ginza district.
The largest Apple Store in the US (where there are over 270) is on Boston’s Boylston Street, but the most spectacular frontage is on New York’s Fifth Avenue (pictured), although the actual store itself is underground.
April Fools’ Day
April 1st is not an auspicious day to found your company, but in 1976 at least in keeping with the cheeky nature of Apple co-founder and noted trickster Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs’ knowing smirk.
Aqua used to be just one of the few words you knew when you went to Europe on holiday and were thirsty, but for most of us it’s also the shiny, translucent, sometimes pulsing visual theme of early versions of Mac OS X. Describing Aqua’s glossy aesthetic Steve Jobs said: “One of the design goals was when you saw it you wanted to lick it.” Nowadays there’s not as much to tongue in the Mac interface but some elements persist, such as the traffic-light Close, Minimize and Open buttons at the top-left of folder and document windows.
Once the exclusive and hated US iPhone mobile carrier, AT&T was once in negotiations to merge with Apple in a deal pushed by Apple’s then CEO John Sculley in 1993. It very nearly happened but AT&T felt burned by its botched buyout of PC maker NCR and walked away – “Boy, you have a phenomenal company. You have exactly what we need. But we bought the wrong company,” CEO Bob Allen told a devastated Sculley – over the phone, of course. (Source: ‘Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders’ by Jim Carlton)
Steve Jobs worked for arcade games company Atari before growing up and founding Apple. He got his pal Woz to help him design a prototype of the later legendary Breakout game for the company. Legend has it that his Atari colleagues were so repelled by his smell (Jobs was going through a hippy phase of not washing or wearing shoes) that he was forced to work the night shift – alone.
Bill Atkinson was one of the original developers of the Macintosh, responsible for the QuickDraw toolbox that underpinned the new graphical user interface – making him the “principal designer of the Macintosh UI”. He also created the computer Menu Bar, MacPaint and the Marching Ants selection animation (which he based on a tasteless beer sign he spotted in a bar; the sign was tasteless, not the beer). He is now a noted photographer.
Steve Jobs dated former Bob Dylan girlfriend and Queen of Folk Joan Baez during the late 1970 and early 1980s. He apparently once considered marrying her, but was put off by her age: “If only she were of child-bearing age, I’d marry her” he is quoted as saying in ‘iCon: Steve Jobs’ by Young & Simon.
Keep in touch with your email, impress people you fancy in Starbucks, or replace your desktop entirely – these are just some of the fine things that an Apple laptop can do for you. One of the things you don’t want your trusty portable device to do is burst into flames. Really. Think about it – should your laptop explode you probably won’t have time to finish watching that hilarious YouTube video or save that Word document you were working on.
At the very least it’s embarrassing having to throw your laptop into the air as it crackles and pops with flames licking the screen, jumping around screaming like Steve Ballmer. At its worst you might have neither a lap nor a top.
The PowerBook 5300 was the butt of many laptop insider jokes after some of its new lithium ion batteries burst into flames on the assembly line. The phrase “battery life” took on a whole new meaning.
Steve Jobs might not be a big gamer but he loved music – especially stuff from the Sixties, being an old hippy (albeit a hard-nosed, business visionary, billionaire hippy) at heart.
He loves Bob Dylan’s music, and holds a particular affection for The Grateful Dead (urgh…) and The Beatles.
His love affair with The Beatles is one just as acrimonious as that within the Fab Four itself.
Apple’s name is almost certainly an homage to The Beatles, whose corporate arm was Apple Corps. And this got the fledgling company into its first spat. In 1978 The Beatles Apple sued Steve’s Apple for trademark infringement over the similar name and logos. In 1981 Apple was forced to pay The Beatles a sum of cash (initial speculation had this between $50m and $250m, but it turned out to be a paltry $80,000 according to BusinessWeek) and promised never to dip its techno toes into the music business while The Beatles agreed not to launch any computers.
This led to another trip to the law courts in 1986, when The Beatles argued that Apple adding MIDI and music-recording capabilities to the Apple II contravened that agreement. Apple had to back down again.
Another little music thing cost Apple $26.5 million in 1991 when a system sound called Chimes appeared in the Mac OS. Later Apple renamed this sound “Sosumi” – “so sue me”, geddit? This time they reached another agreement that allowed Apple to include music-making technologies but not to distribute anything musical on physical media such as vinyl records or CDs.
In 1999 Apple had a dig at the old mop tops by using their rivals Rolling Stones’ track ‘She’s a Rainbow’ as the music on an iMac TV advert.
In turn this started The Beatles’ 2003-6 case against Apple when it announced its iTunes Music Store. Apple argued that iTunes didn’t distribute physical materials, just digital downloads. (Apple had originally offered The Beatles $1m to use the Apple name as part of the Music Store.) This time The Beatles lost the case, but they vowed not to allow Apple to sell its rich catalogue of songs and albums on the store.
Suddenly remembering that as good hippies they should all be making love not war the two sides decided to give peace a chance. The whole messy trademark dispute was ironed out in 2007 under an agreement in which Apple would own all of the trademarks related to “Apple” and would license some of those trademarks back to The Beatles’ Apple Corps for their continued use. There was some speculation that this agreement cost Apple up to half a billion dollars.
Jobs was delighted: “We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks. It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future.”
Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps, agreed: “It is great to put this dispute behind us and move on. The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them.”
But it was not until 2010 that the previous year’s remastered Beatles catalogue hit the iTunes Music Store as digital downloads.
In August 2014 Apple acquired Beats Electronics for US$3 billion. This was the most it had ever paid for another company, dwarfing the $429 it paid for NeXT in 1996 – when got its old founder Steve Jobs back, plus the basis of Mac OS X. For $3b it got some stylish but horribly bass-heavy headphones and the basis of its Apple Music service. Ironically, Apple had nearly bought a company called Be instead of NeXT. Sorry, that’s not ironic at all, is it? Beats was born out of a venture with audio-component maker Monster Cable, who sued Beats for fraud in January 2015, basically claiming it should have received more of that huge £3b payout. Apple showed its old nasty side by retaliating through stopping Monster making licensed accessories for Apple products. They did the same to Bose, who also sued Beats – pulling those lovely but expensive Bose products from the Apple Store – the place to shop for all things lovely but expensive.
Remember when all computers were beige? Apple may have starting the trend with the Apple II, but it was the millions of IBM-compatible PCs that bred the boring beige box. Beige just fitted in with the dull, brown offices of the 1970s and the common colour stuck.
The first Macs were also beige – Pantone 453 to be precise – but in 1987 Apple switched to a greyer colour it optimistically called Platinum, although it was really just light beige.
That all changed with 1998’s translucent Bondi Blue iMac, which redefined almost everything about the personal computer. As ever playing catch up, even Windows PCs stopped being beige about 10 years later.
Apple struggled for years to build its own brand-spanking-new Mac OS operating system, starting in 1987 but throwing in the towel in 1996 (see Copland). Eventually the company decided to just buy an existing better operating system from someone else and make it work on Macs. One of the prime candidates was the BeOS, a new multimedia system that ticked all the boxes Apple wanted for its new OS.
It had all the long-winded system thingamajigs that Apple had failed to pull together itself – symmetric multiprocessing, pervasive multithreading, preemptive multitasking and 64-bit journaling – and even worked on the same PowerPC processors as the latest Macs.
Better yet Be was founded by Jean-Louis Gassée, who had once been head of Apple’s advanced product development and worldwide marketing. It appeared a match made in heaven.
The only problem was that Gassée wanted more money for his fledgling BeOS than Apple was willing to part with. Apple originally bid $120m, then $200m, but Gassée demanded $400m. Apple instead bought NeXT for $429m, when it threw in original founder Steve Jobs as part of the package. The result – a rather lovely operating system called Mac OS X.
We’re all used to calling our Apple PCs “Macs”, even though it’s a pretty random name taken from a type of apple and then misspelled to avoid litigation.
But would we be so at ease talking about our Apple Bicycles, installing Bicycle OS X or reading Bicycleworld?
That’s right, for a short hushed moment in time Steve Jobs considered calling the Mac project “Bicycle”. Gulp.
Steve considered personal computers “bicycles for the mind,” (see also video here) and he demanded that the Macintosh code-name be dropped. Luckily for all of us, the engineers refused.
A full year after Research In Motion launched the BlackBerry Apple released the Blueberry iMac in 1999 – one of its so-called fruity new iMac colours, replacing the kind of greenish Bondi Blue. The world would have to wait till 2000 for the Indigo iMac to bring a proper blue to our attention.
Mac OS X might look lovely but it sounds rather dull. Back in the carefree days of System 7 Apple gave us a bunch of silly sounds for alert noises. Many had onomatopoeic names like Clink-Clank, Wild Eep, Uh Oh, Bip, and, for the purposes of this list, Boing.
The rather odd colour (RGB: 0, 149, 182) that changed the world, presumably named after the clear waters of Australia’s Bondi Beach – where the company now has its own Apple Store. Bondi is an Aboriginal word meaning either “water breaking over rocks” or “a place where a flight of nullas took place”. No hints there about why Apple chose this particular colour for its first iMac, apart from the fact that it’s so weird there was no chance that anyone else had bothered with a product the same colour. Or ever did again.
When you open an application its icon bounces in the Mac’s Dock while it launches. The longer the bouncing goes on, though, the more annoying it becomes.
For example, you need to check your emails at the start of the day and after you start up your Mac you blearily click on Microsoft Entourage. The little purple ‘e’ icon jumps up and down like a kid on a trampoline, and then keeps doing so while you regret not making a cup of tea while you were waiting. Watching that kettle boil would be more productive than sitting waiting for Entourage to get on with it and display your emails. You start to will the icon to bounce a little faster – maybe even a little higher.
But most annoying of all is the attention-seeking bouncing icon that wants you to do something (usually install yet another update to Acrobat Reader). This bouncing can carry on for hours if you don’t attend to the needy app, tempting you to bang your own head repeatedly into the ceiling. Bouncing is meant to be fun, not a constant nagging nudge in the ribs.
While it pioneered the use of the mouse with personal computers – the Apple Lisa and then Mac were the first mass-produced systems to come standard with a mouse – Apple has consistently been attacked for being so damn minimalist with the handy pointing device.
For over 20 years Apple’s mouse had just one button, while everyone else’s ended up with more than one hand could physically press – possessing more buttons than the outfitters of the Chinese Red Army.
Clearly under severe duress – and possibly while Steve Jobs was on holiday – Apple eventually partially relented with grudging invisible right clicks and clickable scroll wheels but today’s Magic Mouse is a clear example of the company’s hatred of mouse clutter.
Ever own a Power Mac G5? Then you know what I’m talking about. (Also unrelatedly a character in Pixar’s Toy Story series.)
The Centris series of Macs, started in 1993, was a mid-range between the low-end Performa and high-end Quadra – hence the name, er, Centris. It used Motorola’s then super-powerful 040 processor but at a more reasonable price and physical size than the Quadras. Eventually Apple realised that Centris was a pretty meaningless name and renamed it the Quadra – obviously a completely logical move befitting the dark ages between the more thoughtful reigns of Steve Jobs.
If Mad Men was set in California Don Draper’s company would be ChiatDay, Steve Jobs’ favourite advertising agency. Run by Lee Clow (see below) ChiatDay created the ‘1984’ Super Bowl ad that launched the Macintosh, the comeback Think Different campaign (See “Crazy Ones”, below), ‘Switch’ and others since, such as the now mildly annoying “Get a Mac” series.
Cheekily pronounced “chirp” but boringly short for Apple and IBM’s Common Hardware Reference Platform that enabled the building of multi-platform PCs that could run Mac OS, OS/2, Windows NT or Unix. Apple and IBM fell out so IBM dumped CHRP for PReP, which didn’t run Mac OS. Then they made friends again and CHRP became PPCP. Confused? Don’t worry, it didn’t matter anyway.
Forget Apple’s iMovie. What about those actual movies about Apple? Making a film about a computer company sounds boring. And it would be if we were talking about ‘Dell: The Movie’. Apple’s a different cinematic prospect altogether. But take co-founder Steve Jobs out of the picture and you’ve got no picture. That’s why all the movies about Apple are really just biopics of Jobs.
There have been documentaries aplnety – most memorably ‘Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires’, a three-hour PBS doco made in 1996, just as Apple was facing its darkest hour.
Jobs’ co-founder Steve Wozniak enjoyed it: “I liked Triumph of the Nerds. It was one of the best shows ever created of that kind.”
But that’s not a proper movie. And nor, really, was 1999’s ‘Pirates of Silicon Valley’, which had all the hallmarks of a made-for-TV, straight-to-video feature film. It focuses on the rivalry between Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. ER’s Noah Wyle played Jobs, with Gates portrayed by The Breakfast Club’s Anthony Michael Hall. Despite its TV movie qualities ‘Pirates’ is a lot of fun for Apple fanboys with nothing else to do on a Friday night. Actor Noah Wyle initially resisted the role of Jobs but agreed to ‘Pirates’ after viewing ‘Triumph of the Nerds’.
A slightly more movie like movie is ‘Jobs’, released in 2013. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern it looks at the period of Apple history prior to the company’s dramatic return to success. It starts with Steve Jobs, played by heartthrob Ashton Kutcher, dropping out of college and going on to found Apple Computer with super-geek Steve Wozniak, played by Josh Gad. Kutcher might be a pin-up boy for teenage girls but he’d never reach the heights of sweat-inducing passionthat Jobs himself aroused in the average Apple Fanboy.
The next Apple movie ‘Steve Jobs’ is released In October 2015, but was written by The West Wing and Social Network’s Aaron Sorkin. Sounds great, right? Sorkin hasn’t made it easy for himself, though. The Jobs movie will consist of just three scenes: each before the launch of a major product: 1984’s Mac, 1985’s NeXT and 2001’s iPod. If that means no screaming, fist-banging, purple-faced outbursts from Jobs then it might be time to go back to that old VHS of ‘Pirates’. The movie’s star is Michael Fassbender, and the director is British Oscar winner Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire).
Nothing much to do with the cinema (much like Pirates of Silicon Valley) Apple’s Cinema Display was just a very big, very expensive standalone monitor that looked super cool and featured lovely see-through plastics – later replaced by much less interesting aluminium styling. The first 1999 model had a screen resolution of 1,600-x-1,024 pixels. The later 30-inch model of Cinema Display reached Grand Canyon like dimensions of 2,560-x-1,600 – bigger than some cheap cinemas.
With its own Mac software such as the iLife apps included free with new Macs Apple can be rather restricting to third-party developers who have paid-for products in the same areas. The same was true in the early days of Macintosh in the 1980s, when Apple shipped Macs complete with free word processor MacWrite and big-brush drawing/painting tool MacPaint. Apple spun off development of these programs into a new but wholly owned company called Claris.
Claris produced a jumbled competitor to Microsoft Office with its ClarisWorks suite, later released as AppleWorks – which some poor souls are still complaining hasn’t been updated in a decade. (If you typed on page 42 of an AppleWorks document all the text would disappear – apparently a jokey reference to 42 being the meaning of life in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which must have had its users rolling about with laughter.)
In 1992 there was even a plan for Claris to sell its own line-up of Macs – see Clones, below. Claris was later renamed after its principal database software FileMaker, and prospers still today.
The Mac Classic was released in 1990, harking back to the original Mac design. Although derided for its pathetic 8MHz performance it proved a hit in Mac-based schools – probably because it was the first sub-$1,000 Mac. The Classic II, released a year later, was beefier at 16MHz but also cost twice as much. Do’h. 1993’s Color Classic was a Mac LC II crammed into a modernised case design, which apparently was a discarded prototype for the 10th Anniversary Mac (source: Apple History).
In order to encourage people to upgrade to Mac OS X Apple dreamed up Classic Mode, where ye olde programs that OS X shunned could run within what is known as a software abstraction layer or sandbox, based on Mac OS 9. The best thing about Classic was the bouncing orange 9 that cheerily allowed you to run Civilization III on an OS X Mac.
Bill Gates derided Apple for not licensing the Mac OS, after imploring the company to do so in a 1985 memo that suggested Apple was too risky a bet for big business. Which dependable heavyweight manufacturers did Gates suggest had better long-term chances of survival than Apple? Wang, DEC, Olivetti, Bull, Philips and Texas Instruments.
Apple instead chose to sue Microsoft over Windows. It lost, and Windows became the global market-leading graphical user interface.
In a weird compromise Apple considered launching its own clones through software subsidiary Claris, but flip-flopped on licensing to anyone for several years. By the time Apple actually got round to licensing the Mac in 1995 the new strategy immediately backfired – losing Apple revenue but not expanding Mac market share. It was estimated that for every $50 Apple earned from its per-clone licence it lost $500 in hardware profit.
There were Mac clones from companies such as Power Computing, DayStar Digital, Motorola, Radius, Umax, and British retailer Computer Warehouse.
In 1997 Steve Jobs returned to Apple, called the cloners “leeches” and killed the whole thing.
Head of Steve Jobs’ favourite ad agency, Chiat/Day, Lee Clow was at least some of the brains behind the the Apple “1984? commercial, the 1997 Think Different campaign, the silhouette iPod dancers, and the Mac vs. PC ads. He was described by AdAge as a “bearded adman in flip-flops”. You can see why Steve got on with him so well.
See the little icon on your keyboard’s Command (Apple) key. Apple icon designer Susan Kare took that clover-leaf design from a Swedish icon for a tourist attraction, and made it the longest-lasting icon in Apple history.
(Interesting names for the Command key, based on its infintely looping icon, include “cloverleaf”, “splat”, “splodge”, “overpass”, “butterfly”, “squiggle”, “beanie”, “flower”, “cauliflower”, “curly-do”, “propeller”, “pretzel”, “rugbeater” or “shamrock”. When used in conjunction with a Hot Key it is called “twiddle”. (Source: Wikipedia)
In 1987 Apple had three system-update projects underway: Blue (useful tweaks to the OS), Pink (big tweaks) and Red (crazy, way-out tweaks). The Blue guys (self-named the “Blue Meanies” in that Apple Let’s-continually-name-bits-of-our-business-after-The-Beatles-just-to-annoy-them kind of way) were to update the existing Mac OS by 1991. The Pink team were charged with releasing an entirely new OS by 1993. Blue’s System 7 was on time in 1991, but Pink slipped behind schedule, eventually so late that the Red ideas weren’t so crazy anymore and were merged into Pink – which made dark pink but it wasn’t renamed as such.
Without getting as bogged down here as the project was at Apple, we’ll skip a few steps and jump straight to Copland – Apple’s next attempt to revolutionise its OS, announced in 1995 and promised a year later, running native on the latest PowerPC processors.
It didn’t take long for Copland to become as muddled as Pink, and release dates kept getting moved. After some disastrous demos at Apple’s 1996 Worldwide Developer Conference the crash-prone Copland was given a jokey release date of 2030 by its own developers.
Apple CEO Gil Amelio canned Copland altogether in late 1996, announcing that the company would look elsewhere for a nice new operating system to buy – which resulted in Apple’s Acquisition of NeXT, the return of founder Steve Jobs, and eventually Mac OS X.
Despite playing a loon in films such as Jaws and Close Encounters beardy bipolar actor Richard Dreyfuss was only the narrator in Apple’s ‘Think Different’ ads that praised life’s “crazy ones” for being rebels (Einstein, Dylan, Ali, Edison, etc) that thinked different. The Crazy Ones script was written by ChiatDay copywriter Craig Tanimoto.
It looked like the most fantastic computer ever made when Steve Jobs unveiled it during the 2000 summer Macworld Expo in New York.
“We are combining the awesome power of the Power Mac G4 with the desktop elegance, the silence and the miniaturization that we learnt from doing the iMac – to make a whole new class of machine,” announced Jobs to a hushed crows eager to see what Apple, Jobs and Jony Ive had dreamt up to fit between the pro Power Mac and the consumer iMac.
The Power Mac G4 Cube indeed squeezed the power and connections of the pro desktop into an eight-inch cube. Steve is obsessed by the cube shape for computers. He’d failed already with the NeXTcube, and now he was forcing Apple to indulge his cubist whim for another triumph of design over commercial realism.
Jobs called it “quite possibly the most beautiful product we’ve ever designed.”
For a confirmed super minimalist like Jobs this was the ultimate computer. But to the non-millionaires in Apple’s customer base it was just expensive, and maybe just a little too cool for the masses.
It had mould lines that people mistook for cracks – or perhaps it was Apple explaining minor cracks as “normal artifacts of the manufacturing process”.
And while it was easy to take out of its polycarbonate enclosure it was not easy to find components with which to upgrade it.
Apple sold 29,000 Cubes between October and December 2000, compared to 308,000 Macs during that same quarter. And in the very next quarter, Cube sales fell to 12,000 units. Apple ceased production of the Cube in July 2001, one year after its introduction.
It sounds like a metal polisher and it reminds me a bit of Basildon, but Cupertino is actually one of several places claiming to be the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. It is principally known as the home to the headquarters of Apple Inc, which houses its Infinite Loop campus HQ in the city.
Despite its high-tech credentials a major employer in the area is the aggregate rock quarry and cement plant. In the year that Apple produced the iPod, PowerBook G4 and flat-panel iMac it was Lehigh Permanente Cement that was honoured as the Cupertino’s Large Business of the Year. Maybe it was Apple’s G4 Cube that swung it for the cement maker.
Cupertino’s Homestead High School alumni include: Apple co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, and the wonderfully named Randy Wigginton, creator of MacWrite.
Cupertino reached city status in 1955, the same year that Steve Jobs was born.
Apple has plans to turn the place into a giant set of the X-Files by building a new campus along the road from its present 1 Infinite Loop HQ.
Named after Preston the robot dog in Wallace & Gromit Apple’s Cyberdog Internet suite (launched in 1996) was killed off while really only still a puppy in early 1997.
Asked at an investor conference in late 1997 what newly returned Steve Jobs should do as head of Apple, mass PC maker Dell’s founder and CEO Michael Dell quipped “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
In 2005 Dell had significantly changed his tune: “If Apple decides to open the Mac OS to others, we would be happy to offer it to our customers,” he told Fortune Magazine.
As far removed from Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs as you could imagine thickly accented German Michael Spindler (nicknamed ‘The Diesel’ because of his mighty frame and hard worth ethic) was the company’s CEO from 1993 to 1996 – replacing John Sculley, the man who effectively fired Jobs in 1985.
While working at Intel Spindler impressed co-worker Mike Markkula as “one of the smartest guys I know”. Markkula went on to become very rich and was an angel investor in Apple, its employee number 3, and its second CEO (1981-3) and chairman (1985-1997).
While the Diesel did transition the Mac to the PowerPC processor and launch the Centris and Performa Mac systems Spindler’s reign as Apple big cheese is not covered in glory. He fired thousands of Apple employees (the redundancy roll call was nicknamed Spindler’s List), removed water cooler from the campus and stopped free meals at the company cafeteria. In 1995 he had to write off $1 billion of unsold inventory – some, no doubt, from the cafeteria.
Spindler suffered badly from stress and was often found cowering under his desk. He spent the last couple of years forlornly trying to flog Apple to the likes of IBM, Philips, Oracle and Sun Microsystems. He was succeeded by Gil Amelio, who eventually brought back Steve Jobs to the helm.
After leaving Apple in 1985 Steve Jobs founded NeXT Computer and a year later bought the Pixar Graphics Group from Lucasfilm’s Star Wars computer graphics division $10 million. Nine years later its first computer-animated movie Toy Story (released in partnership with the Walt Disney Company) revolutionised the movie business.
In 2004 after a raft of super-profitable movies Jobs announced that Pixar was looking for a new movie studio partner to work with. The clash caused the downfall of Disney CEO Michael Eisner and rise of new Mickey Mouse chief Bob Iger. On January 24, 2006, Disney purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion. That’s not Mickey Mouse money – although, in a way, of course it is…
Jobs instantly became Disney’s largest single shareholder with approximately 7 percent of the company’s stock, and serves on the board of directors.
Jobs has been called “the closest thing to Walt Disney since Walt Disney”, and he was consulted when Disney rebranded its failing high street stores, and the new retail outlets were immediately likened to the mega-successful Apple Stores.
Disney was once even rumoured to be a possible buyer of Apple, back in 1998-9.
While the top of the Mac OS X screen stayed pretty much the same as it had been on Mac OS 9 and all the system versions beforehand the bottom of the OS X screen was revolutionised by the introduction of the Dock.
The Dock was based a similar holding bar from the NeXT OpenStep operating system that was the basis of Apple’s new OS. But while the NeXT Dock held icons for frequently used applications, the OS X Dock could hold much more, including documents and files. It also had roots in the Newton’s Button Bar, which allowed application icons to be dragged in and out of the Extras Drawer.
The OS X Dock followed the Newton’s Button Bar in being able to be positioned at either side of the screen, as well as the bottom.
The correct term for a collected folder of files in the Dock is a Dockling. Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard introduced Stacks to the Dock, where the files could be seen in a fan, grid or list.
The best thing about the Dock, though, was its Magnification Effect – where the icons rose and fell, increasing and decreasing in size in a flashy ripple effect.
The designer of the original Mac icons Susan Kare also created system fonts such as Cairo, which included a bunch of simple, random pictures – a palm tree, pointing hand, glove, stick of dynamite and so on. One of them was supposed to be a dog, and was picked by Apple LaserWriter software engineers to represent a printed page’s orientation in the Page Setup dialog box. Thet fiddled with the dog icon a bit, but enough that users now couldn’t tell if it was a dog or a cow. The name Dogcow stuck, but it’s also been known as Moof (the sound a dogcow might make) and Clarus (a dig at Apple’s one-time software subsidiary Claris).
Rumours that Microsoft took five years to create a similar Cowdog are unsubstantiated.
Nothing kick-started the rise of Apple’s Macintosh computer faster than the emergence of desktop publishing (DTP) back in the mid 1980s. The Mac had been floundering, looking for an audience since its release in 1984. The first WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) DTP program was MacPublisher in 1984. This was swiftly followed by the release of Apple’s LaserWriter printer, Adobe’s PostScript page description language, and Aldus PageMaker a year later. Together they produced the desktop publishing revolution that changed not only the newspaper and magazine industries but Apple itself: DTP was the Mac’s much-needed killer application.
Steve Jobs was a big fan of Bob Dylan (it was Apple co-founder Woz who introduced Jobs to the music when he was 13 years old), and references to the gruff-voiced scruffbag pepper Apple’s history. In 1994, Apple developed a programming language for its Newton PDA and called it as Dylan, who quickly sued Apple for trademark infringement. Dylan was one of the misfit crazy ones selected for Apple’s Think Different advertising campaign, and he starred in an iTunes TV ad in 2006.
Jobs even dated former Dylan girlfriend and Queen of Folk Joan Baez during the late 1970 and early 1980s.
The Times They Are A Changing could even be Apple’s unofficial motto – indeed, Jobs quoted from the song when he launched the Macintosh in 1984: “For the loser now, Will be later to win”.
Easter eggs are little hidden messages or jokes added to software by chuckling developers – you have to hunt for them like, yes, easter eggs; except they’re not made of chocolate. These hidden gems appear on a specific set of commands, mouse clicks or keystrokes. You can find lists of Mac OS X easter eggs by searching on the internet.
There are also hardware or firmware easter eggs. Early Macs had pictures of the development team hidden in the ROM. The original Macintosh included signatures of the creators engraved on the inside of the moulded plastic case, as Steve Jobs considered all of the team as artists worthy of signing their masterpiece.
Apple used to be the major player in the educational IT market. Even at its lowest point in 1997, before the heroic return of Steve Jobs, 60 percent of all US school computer sales went to Apple. Half of Apple’s US sales in the 1980s were through education. In the early 1990s a third of the company’s revenues were from education.
But some claim that it was Apple’s focus and reliance on education that was its downfall. Writing in Wired in 1996 Lewis J. Perelmansaid ”education progressively stifled Apple’s core business competency by entrenching an unholy alliance of customers, vendors, and staffers, who promoted and rewarded technological sloth and cultist delusion”.
Apple ignored the huge enterprise market, and hoped that kids taught on Apple PCs would buy and use the same when they left school. Instead the kids went straight from school into a world that was to be dominated by cheaper MS-DOS and Windows systems.
When Jobs left Apple in 1985 he founded NeXT to build computers for higher education. On his return he maintained that schools and colleges would pay a premium for the best equipment, but the world had moved on.
Even the removal of the humble, out-dated floppy drive played its part. While consumers quickly forgot the floppy, school IT managers could not. Apple’s move to USB-only printing in hardware and OS X was another nail in the blackboard, as schools had rooms full of old but still functional serial-port printers. Apple Education was, by 2002, in a “death spiral,” Dell moved in for the kill, and Apple got caned.
Winning the battle for educational IT spend helped Apple lose the business and home computer war.
There are signs that Apple is rebuilding its education market share, through its laptops, the iPhone halo effect and the embarrassment that was Windows Vista. “Apple surpassed Dell as the number one supplier of portables to US higher education for 2007,” Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook announced in 2008.
The number of Macs on US campuses rose 18 percent between 2009 and 2010. Cult of Mac reported that while only 200 schools used Macs versus 2,500 Windows-based locations in 2003, by 2009 the numbers were near even, with 1,400 schools using Macs versus 1,700 using Windows, according to Student Monitor.
The iPad is Apple’s latest weapon in the battle for education, and Apple at last has a product that at least matches the competition on price while blowing it away in terms of function and quality.
The ‘I’ in iMac stands for “internet”, Just dropping this simple letter in front of the word Mac appeared to utterly alter the fortunes of not just the Mac but Apple itself. In 1998 the Mac was poised for the scrapheap. The iMac almost instantly became the world’s most popular personal computer.
The idea therefore of jamming a lower-case vowel against the word Mac, Book, Pod, Pad or Phone was certainly a rum one. You can multiply your product line by 27 just by dreaming up appropriate words for each letter of the alphabet – ‘a’ for Audio, ‘b’ for Business, ‘c’ for Creative, ‘d’ for Designer, etc.
The ‘e’ in eMac stood for Education and was first seen in the cute eMate (which beat the iMac to the initial-little-letter gig so should claim some of the glory, although eWorld was first coined by the brilliantly-named-herself Cleo Huggins, Apple’s head of human interfaces). As stated above, Apple used to be Head Boy in the education IT sector, so a range of spin-off products made a lot of sense.
The original idea was for the eMac to be available only to the education market, but it was quickly released to the general public a month after its launch in April 2002 – although it went education-only again in 2005 in order to push non-scholars towards the pricier iMac.
It would have been fun if the ‘e’ handle had got some traction. Perhaps we’d have had an ePhone or ePad, and maybe even eLife school software. But it wasn’t to be. Apple CEO Steve Jobs prefers minimal product lines not voluminous lists of confusingly similar devices.
The eMate was a neat little classroom laptop that predated the netbook by about a decade. Essentially it was just a Newton PDA in a translucent crazy clamshell laptop case – so in some ways presaged the iPhone’s metamorphosis into the iPad (see, new iPad review).
Steve’s swift assassination of the Newton in 1998 meant an end to the eMate, too. But the handbag-like design was ported to the more able iBook the next year. Its futuristic curvelinear form gained it the nickname ‘Batnewt’, and it was later Batgirl’s computer for a brief cameo appearance in the movie Batman & Robin. She uses it to hack a CD given to her by Alfred – even though the eMate had no CD drive.
Apple began developing a colour “bMate” model for business people, featuring a better screen and a StrongARM processor. Nothing more of this device was ever heard.
Chris Espinosa (second from left, above) was officially Apple Employee Number 8, and worked for the company at the age of 14 in Steve Jobs’ garage and later as an integral part of the original Macintosh team and in particular the Macintosh User Interface Guidelines.
Another short-lived Apple product that started with a small ‘e’ was the company’s 1994-96 easy-to-use online service eWorld, modelled on a concept of “buildings” offering various information services – email, for example, was the post office; shopping happened over at the Marketplace. There was a web browser, but it worked only through eWorld and only on Macs. Community chat rooms could have heralded Apple’s own social network a decade before Facebook and Twitter. But Apple gave eWorld minimal marketing, over-priced it as usual, ignored Windows, and eventually realised that AOL – which it had once part owned – was doing a better job, so gave up trying.
Apple used to hire people to go out and sing the praises of its products to hardware and software developers, businesses, the general public and anyone who’d listen. These Apple apostles were known as Evangelists – helping to fuel the fanatical cult mentality of Apple fans. The most famous Apple evangelist was Hawaiian Japanese American Guy Kawasaki – now a venture capitalist and prodigious blogger who has never been seen not smiling. Fact.
Boring, corporate spreadsheets seem tied to the boring, corporate PC market but in fact Microsoft launched Excel first on the Mac, in 1985. It didn’t make it to Windows until late 1987. That’s interesting.
Produced by the same people who brought you this exciting magazine the world’s biggest Mac exhibitions were the twice-yearly Macworld Expo events, where Apple unveiled its latest products during the opening keynote speeches, and hardware and software companies manned stands throwing t-shirts at the passing Mac throng. On the west coast the main Macworld Expo was held in San Francisco, and on the west coast it switched between Boston and New York.
In its heyday Macworld Expo was like a Roman orgy of Mac, with lavish corporate parties, free gifts, and excited crowds of fan boys queuing for nights to get into the prestigious Steve Jobs keynote so that they could whoop and shout “No way!” when he showed them a new mouse or whatever. Those really were the days.
But with its network of retail Apple Stores and its leader’s hatred of sharing space with anyone else Apple pulled out of the west coast shows in 2005, and from San Francisco in 2009. The show battled on without Apple until 2014, when as the Macworld/iWorld show it finally closed its doors.
Nothing polarises avid computer users more than the “Apple vs Microsoft” argument. For so long marginalised as the pitied minority platform users of Apple hardware and software defended their honour by slavishly worshipping the company and demonising its arch nemesis Microsoft.
While many hold similar views it is the rabid anti-PC warrior who is most worthy of the title Apple Fanboy. I like Apple products, admire the company and its haloed leader Steve Jobs, and have distrust of Microsoft borne from its years of anti-trust lawsuits, ruthlessly monopolistic business strategies and shameless copying of the Mac OS – but I’d hate to be labelled an Apple Fanboy. You have to revel in the sobriquet to be a real Apple Fanboy, and an undying love of the company must be foremost in one’s mind at all times.
An Apple Fanboy tries to dress like Steve Jobs (blue jeans, black turtleneck, sneakers) or otherwise wear Apple-branded t-shirts, badges or tattoos with anti-Microsoft barbs such as “Windows 95 = Macintosh 89”. He – and most are male – might fly a pirate flag over his house (which he’ll likely live in alone or with his mother and his collection of old Apple computers), or have the Apple logo shaved onto the back of his head.
Don’t get into an argument with an Apple Fanboy. He won’t back down, and he’ll probably be right about 75 percent of the time.
Every Apple Fanboy knows that there’s only one person who matters at Apple, and that’s Steve Jobs. Sure, there are others we can name – like Jobs-controlled design puppet Jonathan Ive and Steve’s comedy sidekick Phil Schiller – but for Apple to retain its unique brand it shouldn’t dilute it with more fallible humans. Aside from the legends depicted it in the Think Different ads – and a brief fixation with Jeff Goldblum – people with real names are kept out of Apple adverts. Actors can play the Cool Mac Guy or Windows PC Fool. iPod dancers are shown in silhouette. But Apple did name non-Jobs humans for a brief period at the start of the millennium, in its Switch campaign.
One of the people telling the world why she switched from lousy Windows PC to super-duper Mac was 14-year-old American high-school student Ellen Feiss. Feiss slurred her way through the commercial (“my PC went beep beep beep bleep beep bleep beep”) looking like a stoner, which nicely tied in with Apple’s old counter-culture image.
As soon as the ad aired Feiss became an internet phenomenon, courted by late-night TV chat shows. The ad has been viewed millions of times on YouTube (possibly unsavourably by those Apple Fanboys), and marks the start of the resurrection of Mac cool among the youth of America.
Apple likes to be cool, and tries very successfully to get its products into movies and popular TV shows, such as The X Files, The O.C., 24 and Spooks. Apple actually saved the world from alien destruction in 1996 movie Independence Day, with Jeff Goldblum (again!) using his PowerBook G4 to infect a spaceship with a virus – don’t ask how a Mac managed to get a virus, this was sci-fi after all. Apple is referred to as “some kind of fruit company” in the movie Forrest Gump.
There’s a 1999 movie about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates called Pirates Of Silicon Valley – based on the book Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. ER doc heartthrob Noah Wyle played Jobs, and while you’d have expected Apple’s legal team to swoop and squash the film’s distribution Steve saw the funny side and even had Wyle impersonate him on stage during his New York Macworld Expo keynote that year. Another is called just ‘Jobs’ (2013) and the latest ‘Steve Jobs’ (2015).
Final Cut was an average British thriller with Ray Winstone and Jude Law, and another forgotten film with that guy from Mork & Mindy. But Apple’s Final Cut makes movies rather than starring in them. Peeved that one-time ally Adobe was spending more time developing its Premiere video-editing software for Windows rather than the Mac Apple purchased Macromedia’s KeyGrip editor and launched its own high-end video editing solution in 1999. It quickly became an industry standard, and this time its was Adobe that was pissed off – junking the Mac Premiere version altogether in 2003 before crawling back in 2007.
You’d expect something called The Finder to be a search tool but it’s actually the Mac OS desktop-style file manager – the default opening program in the Mac OS since the very beginning. Bud Tribble named the Mac’s manager The Finder, as it was more visual than Apple’s pre-Mac Lisa’s Filer file manager. The Finder is like the Adam & Eve of the graphical user interface, where the desktop metaphor took shape and enabled the icon-based operating system to flourish into what we have now – and, unlike most elements of the 1984 Mac OS, retains its curious name even today.
It’s hard to think of a better name than FireWire for a cable connection between computer-based components. But then what would you expect from Apple, which was the driving force behind this high-speed serial bus interface standard. Its technical name is IEEE 1394.
That said, Apple’s original code-name for it was “Chefcat”. I know…
Apple developed FireWire alongside Sony (which tried calling it i.Link – nice try, but Apple would never have added that period mark after the ‘i’) and Texas Instruments (calling it Lynx – I get it but that’s a pretty lame pun, and anyway Apple would call the shots on big-cat brand names from 2001 onwards).
FireWire’s mortal enemy was Intel’s USB. Now that’s a rubbish name – Universal Serial Bus. If you’re trying to get over an idea of lightning speed never include the word “bus” in the name. FireWire’s battle of words with USB was odd as Apple had been the first computer maker to really embrace USB by including it on the original iMac in 1998. But Apple likes a fight, even with its own partners and supplementary technologies. It just does.
In comparison with FireWire’s 400Mbps (later nearly 800) USB was slow at a pitiful 12Mbps. 12! USB 2.0 crept ahead of FireWire at 480Mbps but in reality rarely allowed data to travel faster than 280Mbps, and it could only handle data communication in one direction at a time. FireWire’s two data busses could send data backwards and forwards simultaneously.
FireWire was first used in 1999’s Blue & White Power Mac G3. FireWire sounded cool, and was fast, starting at 400Mbps and moving up to 800Mbps in 2003’s Power Mac G4.
Apple continued to mix FW400 and FW800 on its desktop Macs until 2008, which led to another set of adaptors hanging off the back of our Macs – often downgrading the FW800 port to work with all our more numerous FW400 devices.
Following its move from Motorola 68000 chips to PowerPC processors Apple saved us all from annoying product names that mimicked the long-winded microprocessor numbers by lumping together each generation into a simple G designation – so the third-generation was G3, fourth G4, fifth G5… and would have been G6 if the line hadn’t dried up and died.
Previously, we’d had to deal with names like PowerPC 601, 603 and 604e; the G3 started with the 740 and 750 chips, code-named Arthur.
The G3 was first seen in the beige Power Mac G3 series, but became famous as the original processor in the bubble-shaped iMac in 1998. The Power Mac G3 was redesigned in 1999 to look more funky, with the Blue & White Power Mac G3 even displaying the G3 proudly on its side – some people thought the G and 3 either side of the large Apple logo resembled Mickey Mouse ears and reckoned this was a Dan Brown-like clue that Disney was in the frame to buy Apple.
Before Disney had a chance to act on the Mickey Mouse Code Apple quickly released the Power Mac G4 (code-named Yikes!) in smart graphite and later Quicksilver shades. The original 500MHz top-end Power Mac G4 was struck low by processor supply and error issues that forced Apple to “speed dump” its range by 50MHz, which caused an outcry when the prices weren’t similarly dumped.
Maybe the most famous member of the G4 family was the Power Mac G4 Cube – a thing of design beauty, expensive price tag, low sales and short shelf life.
2003’s Power Mac G5 introduced the aluminium-meshed casing that Apple still uses today for its Mac Pro range – a look now eight years old, an absolute lifetime in terms of Apple design. It also marked Apple’s move away from Motorola PowerPC chips to those of IBM. On its launch Steve Jobs boasted that the G5 would reach 3GHz “within 12 months”. In fact three years later it had puffed its way to just 2.7GHz – a fact that enraged Jobs so much that he dumped both IBM and Motorola and ran into the welcoming arms of former rival Intel.
Apple has tried and failed to get in on the games side of computing several times, most spectacularly on its 1995 Pippin games console it created with Japan’s Bandai – later voted as one of the Worst Tech products Of All Time. Another attempt at gaming domination came when Steve Jobs announced in 1999 a new Mac game called Halo, produced by Bungie. In its inimitable way Microsoft immediately purchased Bungie and made it an Xbox-only game and one of the best-selling ever.
While Jobs was furious with this slap in the face, sources report that he’d turned down the chance to buy Bungie when it was running out of funds to continue development of the game. Microsoft snapped it up immediately, leaving Apple without its much-heralded major games flagship, and rival Microsoft with a massive success to launch the Xbox.
Id Software technical director John Carmack told Eurogamer that Steve Jobs doesn’t “deeply get” gaming: “The truth is Steve Jobs doesn’t care about games. He’s not a gamer”.
Today, however, Apple could claim to its iOS iPhone and iPad devices to be the world’s largest games platform – so it all came right in the end.
What is it with Silicon Valley technology start ups and dusty garages? If you didn’t start your computer company in your parents’ garage you a phoney. HP’s William Hewlett and David Packard started the craze in the late 1930s, using the Packard family one-car garage in Palo Alto. Presumably old Mr Packard’s auto had to sit outside while his son and pal mucked around with soldering irons, wires and metal cases.
The Ford Motor Company was started in a coal shed, as obviously there weren’t any car garages around before Ford. Walt Disney started his business in his uncle Robert’s garage. Delta Airlines started life out of an old petrol-selling garage.
According to legend HP summer intern Steve Jobs and full-time HP employee Steve Wozniak followed this lead by starting work on Apple in the Jobs family garage. Work actually started in a bedroom at Steve’s adoptive parents’ house at 11161 (now renamed 2066) Crist Drive in Los Altos, California. When the bedroom got too cluttered the pair moved to the garage. Two hairy young men working furiously in a bedroom doesn’t have the tech mythology that a proper garage start up requires.
Steve’s dad Paul Jobs had to shift his beloved car-restoration equipment out of the garage and helped the boys by installing a huge wooden workbench that served as Apple’s first manufacturing base.
“It was just the two of us, Woz and me,” Jobs later told Fortune magazine when he returned to that garage. “We were the manufacturing department, the shipping department. Everything.”
Jean-Louis Gassée was once chief of Apple France, then headed up Macintosh development after Steve Jobs got the push, and finally was in charge Apple’s advanced product development and worldwide marketing in the late 1980s.
While Jobs always dressed in trademark jeans and black turtleneck, Gassée was often seen garbed in black lambskin leather jacket and single diamond-stud earring – could you look more European if you tried? Ok, he could have worn a beret.
For all his efforts at Apple – and he’s credited with the less than brilliant decisions to not clone the Mac OS when it was ahead of Microsoft Windows or produce affordable Macs for the masses, as well as producing the ridiculously unportable Mac Portable and starting work on the Newton MessagePad – Gassée really made his mark on the Apple of today by being too greedy. After years of trying to invent its own next-generation successor to the Mac operating system Apple went out looking for one to buy in 1996. Top of the list was the multimedia-friendly BeOS, from Gassée’s Be Inc, which fitted the bill rather nicely. Apple offered him $120m, then $200m but he held out for $400m – which allowed old boy Steve Jobs to slip in and sell Apple his NeXTStep OS as the basis for Mac OS X.
Following the death of Steve Jobs in 2011 Jean-Louis Gasse wisely commented on the fact Apple almost bought his BeOS instead of NeXT: “Thank God that didn’t happen.”
Isn’t it weird that someone called Gates invented something called Windows? Not really. If he’d joined the reformed Doors or been an Olympic fencer, that would have been mildly amusing. He didn’t and he isn’t, so we’ll just have to muse on Bill Gates, the absolute nemesis of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Where Steve is charismatic, good looking, design focused and very, very cool, Bill is, well, not. Steve did it for the pursuit of the most beautiful technological solutions, his love of Apple and a wee bit of god-like glory. Bill did it for the money.
That’s cruel on a person who was for a long time the world’s richest man and founder of Microsoft – two glaring reasons why he’s not considered a likeable chap by most Apple fans (Gates’ live onscreen appearance at the 1997 Boston Macworld Expo was greeted with boos that Jobs decried as “childish behaviour” despite his own more than a decade of equally puerile Microsoft bashing). Steve later admitted his bitter regrets at allowing Gates to tower above him at the event: “That was my worst and stuoidest staging event ever. It made me look small.”
Bill visited Steve in the final months of Jobs’ life, spening more than three hours reminiscing. “We were like the old guys in the industry looking back,” Jobs recalled the meeting to biographer Walter Isaacson. “He was happier than I’ve ever seen him, and I kept thinking how healthy he looked.”
Gates told Isaacson: “It was pretty personal”.
In fact Bill is rather nice now that he has stopped running a globally ruthless, monopolistic company that bullied a nascent industry into second-rate solutions. His Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation does more good than all the iPhones, iPods and iPads in the world will ever do. And he helped save Apple at its lowest hour by publicly investing in the company and promising to continue developing Office for the Mac when Steve asked him to on his return in 1997. Thanks, Bill.
Modesty isn’t one of Steve Jobs’ finer virtues. And why should it be. He set up a company that was an almost instant, unique success – that launched innovative products that truly created the personal computer as we know it today; oh, and the smartphone, media tablet, mouse, graphical user interface, CD-ROM drive, MP3 player, online music and app store, etc etc etc. He got booted out. The company nearly died. He came back and saved it. It’s now the number one technology company in the world and one of the largest companies that do anything in the US. While he was not making Apple great he started Pixar, whose movies Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and so on were rather successful, and changed animated movies from simpering airbrush cartoons into something more human, funny and, well, watchable.
So he’s a genius. I think we can all accept that. He’s not Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein. But he’s more clever, more driven and more right than wrong than most of us lot. A lot more.
But are those lanky, semi-bearded, blue t-shirted blokes that stand all day behind an Apple Store counter restoring iPods, blowing fluff out of MacBook DVD slot drives, and telling people that actually their iPhone must have been dropped in a glass of water so that’s why it’s not working, and therefore no, actually, you can’t swap it for one that works… are they geniuses. Probably not.
The Genius Bar logo is even based on an atomic model – like these guys are all Quantum Mechanics postgraduates, rather than weekend musicians. You might expect a Genius Bar to be a place where amazing cocktails are invented or egg heads go to get drunk. No, it’s the place you go to be patronised about how dumb you are not to know how to get that embarrassing DVD out of your MacBook Pro, or have to take back that stupid piece of crap that doesn’t work like they said it would.
The Genius Bar was actually invented as a way – in the aftermath of Apple’s Macworld Expo withdrawal that ended public Steve Jobs keynotes – to continue to allow its users to queue for hours in the vague hope of seeing someone in an Apple t-shirt politely turn them away at the end. Apple users love to queue for a peek at genius. Apple knows this, and offers us countless opportunities to do so. Genius.
General Electric/General Motors
Courted in 1984 by Steve Jobs and John Sculley as potential Apple sugar daddy.
Graphical User Interface
A GUI (pronounced “gooey”) is a user-friendly digital-device display interface typically using images, icons and windows and driven by mouse gestures rather than just text commands and keyboard.
And, while the first and still the best, the Mac GUI is nowhere near the most popular or successful (despite all the worship of the Apple fanboys). That honour goes to Windows. And there are numerous versions of open-source Linux with large installed user bases.
There are claims and counter claims about which was really the first GUI.
Apple got its GUI ideas for the Lisa and later Mac via a visit to the Xerox PARC labs – a hotbed of brilliant innovations that other companies came along to gawp at and then copy before Xerox got round to it. Apple at least gave Xerox a bunch of stock while sauntering off, hands in pockets and whistling while trying not to simply run full pelt back to its own development labs.
Apple even licensed parts of the Mac system to Microsoft for Windows 1.0 but got a bit red in the face when Windows 2.0 included overlapping windows just like on the Mac. Really, what did it expect?
Apple claimed that Microsoft copied the Mac OS as the basis of its Windows operating system, and tried in vain to stop Windows in its tracks. Apple also sued HP for its NewWave software. Of the 189 alleged Microsoft copyright infringements the court ruled that 179 of them were covered by the earlier licence – and the other ten weren’t covered by copyright law. Apple won on just one point: that the NewWave trash can icon looked a lot like the Mac OS one.
Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Woz were both once very hairy, sporting beards and wayward head hair. When you work in a dusty garage nobody’s going to march you to the barbers. And when you run a billion dollar business the clippers aren’t mentioned either. Woz has remained consistently hairy while Jobs toyed with his barnet depending on the latest fashion. 70s Steve was much hairier than clean-cut 80s and 90s Steve. A beard – this time in grey – returned between 2003-6, but the once-luxurious hair had started thinning on his return to Apple in 1997. In comparison Bill Gates has stuck with his boyish, hairless chin from the very start and has a hairstyle so boring it’s impossible to recall.
Many of Apple’s best-loved Mac OS icons were dumped on the introduction of Mac OS X and its fancy pulsating glow icons, but perhaps the greatest loss was the Happy Mac. When you started up a Mac pre-OS X the bootup icon was a little Mac with a broad grin, accompanied by a musical chord. Designed by chief Mac iconist Susan Kare the Happy Mac icon showed that booting had begun successfully. Its evil twin the Sad Mac would appear if there was a hardware problem. The Sad Mac had its own little tune, known cheerfully as The Chimes Of Death.
The Happy Mac got some colour in its little cheeks when Apple moved over to PowerPC processors, and later System 7.5 Happy Macs ditched the original Mac case for a wider two-sided blue grinning face.
The Happy Mac outlived the Sad Mac icon but still made it as far as only Mac OS X 10.1 – although it had a zombie-like existence in various logos until 2006’s Universal logo finally punched its cheery lights out.
It has, however, made something of a comeback in a cameo appearance within Apple’s iCloud.
Apple gets slammed for the average audio quality of its iPod/iPhone earbuds but its iconic white earbuds are the world’s most popular, and third-party headphone makers should thank Apple every single day for not making them the best. Apple later splashed $3 billion on headphone maker Beats, although more for its music-streaming service than the ubiquitous ear warmers.
Andy Hertzfeld was one of the main developers of the original Macintosh system software. Before that was was working on DOS 4.0, the proposed new operating system for the Apple II. When Steve Jobs decided he was the right man for the Mac team he walked over to Herzfeld’s desk and pulled the power plug out of his Apple II: “You’re just wasting your time with that! Who cares about the Apple II? The Apple II will be dead in a few years. Your OS will be obsolete before it’s finished. The Macintosh is the future of Apple, and you’re going to start on it now!”
His Apple business card stated his job title as “Software Wizard”. He now works for Google. He is also the author of ‘Revolution in The Valley’, a book full of amazing stories about Apple and the creation of the Mac. Check it out at folklore.org.
As with the average headphones Apple is laughed at for its one-button mice. But 1998’s iMac came with an object of utter derision, the “Hockey Puck” mouse that was as unergonomic as a frozen mini pizza.
With all their hair (see above), tubby tummies and ‘Live with Mum’ status 1970s hardcore computer geeks resembled real ale enthusiasts. So it’s little surprise that a bunch of them called their club The Homebrew Computer Club (the thin hairless ones called it the Amateur Computer Users Group). In the absence of ready-made PCs – let alone tech emporia like the Apple Store – bands of sweaty techy electronic enthusiasts would meet up in Menlo Park in the San Francisco Bay Area to trade parts and share tips on making their own computers.
The first meeting was held in March 1975 in Gordon French’s garage, when founder Gordon French showed off the first Altair microcomputer that had been sent for review by the People’s Computer Company. Later meetings were held at the much more impressive-sounding Stanford Linear Accelerator Center – a cool name utterly ruined by its acronym, SLAC.
Steve Jobs and Woz were Homebrew regulars, although one can imagine Jobs lambasting the DIY PC makers for not making their computers beautiful enough. The Apple I – no beauty itself, but one sold recently for £133,000 ($210,000) – was demonstrated at the Homebrew Computer Club in April 1976.
As Woz himself has said “Without computer clubs there would probably be no Apple computers”.
Woz remembers that “The Apple I and Apple II computers were shown off every two weeks at the club meeting. ‘Here’s the latest little feature,’ we’d say. We’d get some positive feedback going and turn people on. It’s very motivating for a creator to be able to show what’s being created as it goes on. It’s unusual for one of the most successful products of all time, like the Apple II, to be demonstrated throughout its development.”
Apple, under Steve Jobs and later Tim Cook, is the polar opposite – with only a few Apple employees (let alone some beardy pals down the pub) seeing all of a product before it’s shown to the public.
Apple has a close but strained relationship with Hewlett-Packard. As a high school student Steve Jobs had the front to ask president of HP William Hewlett for some electronic parts he needed for a class project. Hewlett was impressed enough to give Jobs the parts and even offered him a summer job at HP – where Jobs met Steve Wozniak, with whom he’d later set up Apple. In 1988 Apple tried to sue HP for $5.5 billion for stealing ideas from the Mac graphical user interface. All was forgiven by 1997 when HP rebadged its DeskJet printers as Apple’s last ever StyleWriter inkjets. And HP was the only company other than Apple to sell the iPod – in 2004 HP sold around 5 percent of all iPods.
Trainspotters’ fact: William Hewlett and David Packard apparently tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett. Packard won but named their electronics enterprise the “Hewlett-Packard Company”.
Most of us are unaware that as soon as a company develops some fantastic new computer or gadget it starts to think about how it can be replaced – not just upgraded, but replaced, killed off, junked, binned, put out with the milk bottles. Apple has a long history of absolute failure in this endeavour – for example, when it tried to invent a new operating system for its Macintosh computers it couldn’t hack it on its own and ended up buying another company’s altogether (see Copland).
More extreme than replacing the operating system was an Apple plan to design a new computer to end the Mac.
In 1989 Apple began a project called Jaguar – not to be confused with the furry and rather successful Mac OS X 10.3 Jaguar, of course – that was intended to be the Mac’s replacement, running on faster RISC-based processors. This didn’t go down well with Apple’s army of Mac engineers and eventually it was dropped in favour of a plan to get the Mac itself onto RISC. This was Project Hurricane, later renamed Tesseract – which was meant to be the saviour of the Mac and the whole of Apple. Of course, it was an abject failure. Luckily a much smaller group code-named PDM (for Piltdown Man) did manage to get the Mac onto RISC and the resulting PowerPC Mac kept the Mac and Apple in business.
As the Rebel Apple needs an Evil Empire to publicly confront. Famously this is Microsoft, plus Intel for the Wintel PC and processor partnership. Now it’s the almighty Google – even though Apple is the dominant player in the biggest growth markets these days. But in the beginning the big baddie was IBM. In contrast to colourful, healthy Apple even its name was boring with a shadow of brutality: International Business Machines. It dubbed itself Big Blue in an attempt to lighten its image.
IBM represented the monotonous big business oligarch to Apple’s free thinking wood fairy. The Emperor vs Luke Skywalker. In 1981 Apple took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal welcoming IBM to the world of personal computers. It stated “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.” I think there’s an early sign of Steve Jobs’ raking sarcasm there.
In its ‘1984’ ad to launch the Macintosh Apple was represented as the young athlete throwing a hammer into the Big Brother screen droning at the grey, enslaved masses. If you listen to Steve Jobs during his 1983 company keynote address it’s pretty obvious who Big Brother was meant to represent: “It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers initially welcoming IBM with open arms now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right?”
Just seven years later Apple was partnering with IBM on the PowerPC processor platform – one it would stick with until it turned instead to its then enemy Intel. With Apple’s perpetual war (“It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist”) of regular switching between enemies, rewriting of history, and keynote two-minute hates maybe George Orwell‘s vision really was right after all.
Following the success of the iMac Apple rationalised its computer range into a four-box strategy where the consumer range were the iMac for desktop and iBook for laptop, and the pro range were Power Mac for desktop and PowerBook for laptop.
The iBook needed to match the stunning looks of the translucent iMac G3. And Apple outdid itself with the clamshell design of the original iBook. With its lady handle it looked more like a handbag than a portable computer, putting it about as far away from the boring, corporate laptop design as it could go. It was the object of a fair amount of derision – labelled by some as “Barbie’s toilet seat”. It even had a handle for easy carrying.
Like the iMac the iBook was released in various vibrant colours, and like the iMac it supported the latest technologies. It was the first mainstream computer to include integrated wireless networking – with Apple’s branded AirPort Wi-Fi. It also dumped rarely used PC Card slots.
And, again like the iMac, it lost its distinctive looks and personality once Mac sales were on the up again.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs loved publicity – good publicity. He didn’t agree that all publicity is good publicity, though. He liked secrets because he liked to reveal things – on his terms, in his place of choosing, and always in blue jeans and black turtleneck. He hated it when someone else revealed Apple’s secrets. He absolutely hated it. The only thing he hated more than people blowing Apple’s secrets is when people reveal things about him. And he did his nut roast when Jeffrey Young and William Simon wrote a book all about him, called iCon (geddit?).
As retribution for publishing this unauthorized biography, Jobs banned all publications (including such bestsellers as Macs For Dummies, Mac OS X Secrets) from publisher John Wiley & Sons from Apple retail stores.
Five years previously Jobs had attempted to force Random House CEO Peter Olson to pulp Alan Deutschman’s unauthorised Jobs biog The Second Coming of Steve Jobs. He failed but did manage tokill extracts of the book in Vanity Fair, where Deutschman was a contributing editor.
One of the big advantages of Windows over the Mac OS was the abundance of software.
In order to counter this perceived lack of software Apple chose to load its Macs with freely bundled programs that were miles better than anything available on rival platforms – not only taking away the initial argument but pushing the fact that Windows didn’t have the best programs, just tons more apps of far-inferior quality.
In 1999 it bundled a video-editing program with its new line of DV (digital video) iMacs. The name of the program was iMovie, and it would later spawn many more free and some not-so-free apps from Apple. Six months later the company allowed any Mac user to download iMovie.
It’s difficult to comprehend that iMovie was actually in use before the shininess of Mac OS X, but it started life working in Mac OS 8. Along with the iMac DV it pioneered high-speed FireWire connections that soon became the video connection standard.
iMovie was followed up by iDVD in 2001 so all those new video projects could be shared on disc. iPhoto was the next app that Apple gave away as a free download for Mac users, in 2002.
In 2003 Apple bundled iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD and iTunes together in a $49 iLife suite of consumer software. Music-making program GarageBand was added in iLife ’04, and iWeb bolted on in iLife ’06.
iLife is bundled free with all new Macs but is a purchase for upgrades. It was a brilliant software strategy from Apple, but not a new one for the company.
First there was AppleWorks, a suite of business apps for the Apple II, released in 1984.
At the same time Apple released the Macintosh and realised that it needed applications to really push the new platform. After all, a computer with just the operating system as software is next to useless. So Apple created MacWrite and MacPaint, and bundled them on new Macs from 1984 to 1986 – much to the annoyance of third-party software developers who moaned that Apple’s software was so good that they didn’t stand a chance.
Other Apple Mac programs of the time included the less-well-known MacDraw and MacProject were eventually bundled with the two big boys into 1991’s ClarisWorks – which was even ported to Windows in 1993, when Apple spin-off Claris realised there was much more cash to be made flogging to the millions of Windows users than there was pandering to the Mac crowd.
There’s no chance that Apple will release a Windows version of iLife, although iTunes has of course make the jump with spectacular success.
The computer that brought back Apple from the brink, the iMac is regarded as Steve Jobs’ first move to get Apple back on track from the gates of ruin on his return to the company. There is some controversy about whether his predecessor Gil Amelio had been planning the translucent Jetsons all-in-one home computer long before the return of Jobs, but there’s little doubt that only Steve could have made it the phenomenal success it proved to be.
The original 1999 iMac shape is hard to describe, although many have tried: bubble, egg, gum drop… In the end everything else that looked a bit like it just became known as iMac shaped.
It wasn’t just a revolution in looks (Jobs later quipped that “the back of our computer looks better than the front of anyone else’s”) it ditched some PC standards – most controversially the floppy disk drive for email and the CD. It was the first Mac to include USB, which gradually made the Mac compatible with more PC peripherals.
The name “iMac” went on to define Apple itself, and led to other ground-breaking products such as the iPhone and iPad, as well as software like iLife and iWork. Jobs even dubbed himself iCEO before he committed permanently to being top dog.
But at first Steve wanted to call the iMac “MacMan” – apparently the brain(Dead)child of Apple’s inhouse marketing guy Phil Schiller. ChiatDay ad man Ken Segall eventually talked him out of this folly, and dreamed up the name “iMac” to save us all.
Apple changed the original iMac’s colour with each new version, until it changed the shape dramatically with 2002’s iMac G4 – which looked like an anglepoise lamp. Later iMacs just hid everything behind the LCD screen, making them slimmer and more home friendly but losing much of the personality that made their name and saved Apple’s skin.
The iMac and iBook were deliberately garish and revolutionary in order for Apple to get its products noticed in front of the dominant beige army of Windows clones. Once Apple was sufficiently clear of death’s door the products became more mainstream again.
Companies don’t change their names often, and when they do it’s usually a rotten decision – remember the Royal Mail changing its name to Consignia, and then back again. Other companies, such as tobacco firms and other polluters, change to divert attention away from their evil. Apple, on the other hand, changed its name in 2007 from Apple Computer to Apple Inc to announce to the world that it wasn’t just a boring computer manufacturer any more. No, it also makes iPod Socks and expensive iPad cases.
Industrial Light & Magic
Started by Star Wars director George Lucas Industrial Light and Magic had an offshoot computer graphics division, which was sold to former Apple boss Steve Jobs for $5m in 1986. He invested a further $5m of his own money, renamed it Pixar, and the rest is cinema history. Boom.
An infinite loop is a coding term for an event that usually leads to the crash of a computer. It’s an odd name then for the street on which resides Apple’s main corporate campus in Cupertino, California. Apple plans to move most of its operations to a new spaceship-like campus building just down the road from 1 Infinite Loop. The massive new building really is a loop! Or a doughnut. Loop sounds better.
Like IBM chip maker Intel was for a long time the object of Apple’s scorn and derision of Apple and its mercurial chief Steve Jobs. During keynotes Steve would show funny videos of Intel’s Pentium chips on the shell of a snail (ha ha ha) or Intel technicians in space (“bunny”) suits being burned by the speed of PowerPC (ho ho ho). Ha ha ha until the PowerPC wasn’t that fast any more and Apple jumped chip to Intel. Ho ho ho until Intel’s processors slow down and Apple buys all its chips from ARM.
Apple’s iTunes music player (based on Casady & Greene’s SoundJam MP) looked like a little curiosity when it was launched in 2001. Then along came the iPod a few months later… It rapidly revolutionised the whole music industry (pissing off Bon Jovi in the process) and threatens to do the same to the movie industry and software distribution. The market-leading iPhone and iPad can’t do much without it. When iTunes whistles the world hums along.
Think the iTunes logo has stayed the same since the service launched? Think again.
Possibly to disguise the fact that he once designed a toilet (not this iMac toilet) Apple’s skinhead aesthete Jonathan Ive prefers to be known as Jony. Born in Essex Ive attended the same school (Chingford Foundation School) as fellow style icon David Beckham. He is now Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, and is feted for his designs for the PowerBook G4, iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.
In 2006 he was awarded the title Commander of the British Empire – possibly bestowed in the Privy Chamber. Ive’s royal honour was raised to Knight Commander of the same Order (KBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for “services to design and enterprise”, allowing him to be called Sir Jonathan Ive.
Jony said he was “both humbled and sincerely grateful”.
Jony Ive and Steve Jobs got on like a minimalist house on fire.
Jobs on Ive: “We’ve done so many hardware products where Jony and I have looked at each other and said, ‘We don’t know how to make it any better than this, we just don’t know how to make it. But we always do; we realize another way. And then it’s not long after the new thing comes out that we look at the older thing and go, ‘How can we ever have done that?’ “
When Apple started giving versions of its new Mac OS X operating system code-names linked to ferocious cats this was just some feline amusement for the developers and project team. The Public Beta of Mac OS X wasn’t a great start with its code name Kodiak referring to a bear, but version 10.0 (that’s version 1.0 in reality) was Cheetah, and 10.1 was Puma. Then Apple had the great idea of actually using the code name in the public branding. So Mac OS X 10.2 was called Jaguar – even the box and disc had a furry-looking X on the front.
Jaguar was not only a cute marketing exercise. It was the first really stable version of OS X that delivered a bunch of great new features, including a new Address Book and iChat as well as a much sleeker look and feel.
Weirdly, Steve Jobs pronounced Jaguar as Jagwire.
But what Apple giveth, Apple can also taketh away. While the fun and friendly furry X gave this OS update some personality Apple punched the smile off the Mac’s beloved Happy Mac icon and replaced it with a monolithic grey Apple logo (not even as friendly as the old colourful one (see below). Spoilsports.
Graphic designer Rob Janoff isn’t as well known as Steve Jobs or Jonathan Ive but the fruit of his labours certainly is – for Janoff designed the simple but perfect Apple logo.
In 1976, when Apple was founded, the corporate logo was a complex black & White drawing showing an apple falling off a tree onto an unsuspecting Issac Newton. There was a banner wrapping round and a half-covered up quotation. It was a right old mess.
Steve Jobs – who hates mess and loves simplicity – was far sighted enough to realise how crap this would look on the back of iPad and iPhones, so commissioned PR company Regis McKenna to design a new one. Janoff went to the supermarket and bought a basket of apples, sliced them up and studied them for hours. He added a bite to his apple image so that people wouldn’t mistake it for a tomato – because people don’t take bites out of tomatoes, right?
There have been suggestions that the bite was in honour of father-of-the-modern computer and Nazi code breaker Alan Turing who committed suicide by eating a poisoned apple following the ungrateful British government persecution of his homosexuality. Janoff denies his logo’s bite had anything to do with Turing, but it’s a nice story.
Jobs demanded the image be in colour to further humanise the computer company, and Janoff’s multi-coloured final version became an instant design classic. The PR bosses argued that it should just be black to save on printing costs but Jobs and Janoff won the day – although in 1998, when Apple made the whole computer more colourful with its original iMac, the rainbow-coloured logo was ditched for monochromatic themes, although the shape remained pretty much the same. From 2001-3 the Apple logo was watery Aqua-themed, and from then on it was Glass-themed. It somehow skipped the Brushed Metal look, except when it actually was made of brushed metal, of course.
In the days before Apple most businessmen wore suits. Many still do wear suits, of course, but plenty don’t because Apple made it cool and acceptable to go to work in jeans. When he announced the Macintosh he was dressed in ostentatiously in double-breasted blazer and green bow tie, on the cover of the first issue of Macworld magazine he wore a grey suit and tie, but nowadays you hardly ever see him in anything but jeans and black turtleneck. This is the outfit he wore in the garage when he founded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak, and it’s how he demonstrated that (a) Apple retains its unorthodox roots, (b) he wasn’t a boring stuffed suit, and (c) he could wear what he damn well felt like because he owns the company and about half the world’s ready cash.
Steve once explained that having the exact same outfit every day meant that he didn’t have to worry about what to wear and could get straight to work dreaming up the next big thing without being distracted by yellow or grey socks, boating blazer or ski jacket.
The Steve jeans, if you must know, are mid-blue Levi 501s, buttoned but never belted, and worn above the hip but below the waist.
In 1966 John Lennon dared to suggest that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Forty five years later über Beatles fan Steve Jobs could possibly claim the same about Apple – although it probably wouldn’t be such a great PR move. There are serious articles by theologists about the religiosity of Apple, and in particular the iPhone, which is dubbed “The Jesus Phone” by many a web wag.
On the darker side, others have pointed out that the apple is the sign of the Original Sin and the Fall of Man, which Adam & Eve tasted before being turfed out of Paradise for following the advice of a snake. Adding fuel to this devilish story is the fact that the company’s first product, the Apple I, cost $666.
To be fair, Jobs and Wozniak started work on Apple in Steve’s house and garage on Crist Drive, Los Altos.
Steve. He founded the company, you know. RIP.
Joy of Tech
Canadian duo Nitrozac and Snaggy publish a hilarious webcomic called Joy of Tech that celebrates and pokes fun at geeky tech news and events, taking a particular interest in the cult of Apple and its legendary people, fans and products.
Not many people have heard of Susan Kare but we all see her work every day, as she designed many of the pixelated interface elements, fonts and icons of the early Mac OS, some of which survive to this day. Her Chicago font was used for years as the main interface font before Mac OS X, and continued in use in the first four generations of the iPod interface.
Maybe her most famous icon was that Apple used for its Command Key – also known as the Apple Key, and occasionaly the Pretty Sqiggle Key.
Many of her ground-breaking icon designs – such as the Lasso, the Grabber and Paint Bucket – are now standards in software interface design.
Steve Jobs loved her work so much that he employed her as Creative Director when he founded NeXT after getting pushed out of Apple in 1985. Later she sold her soul working for Microsoft, so that its products could look even more like the Mac.
Japanese American Guy Kawasaki was one of the original team that marketed the Macintosh in 1984. Later he became known as an Apple Evangelist – a position that became necessary when Apple booted evangelist-supreme Steve Jobs out of the company in 1985 – spreading the word of Mac to software developers so that they would continue to write programs for the platform. Kawasaki is now a venture capitalist and blogger, and is not known for his modesty. His blog is entitled “How to change the world”.
The highlights of every Mac fan’s year are the product announcements made by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and later his successor Tim Cook. In the terrible interregnum years between 1985 and 1996 when Steve languished in the wilderness, product announcements were bundled together in closed-door sessions with tech journalists – sometimes months in advance of launch date. Apple’s non-Steve CEOs would still handle keynote speeches at the twice-yearly Macworld Expo (January San Francisco, summer Boston), but they were deadly-dull affairs.
That changed when Steve returned. His product announcements were already legendary. In 1983 he announced the Macintosh with supreme showmanship and fanfare, debuting the now famous ‘1984’ TV ad directed by Ridley Scott. Dressed in dicky bow and suit he quoted Bob Dylan and promised to end the hegemony of industry giant IBM.
People would queue all night for a chance to witness a ‘Stevenote’, as Steve’s keynote speeches were known. There was room a for a few thousand in the auditorium, but the front sections were reserved for “Apple VIPs”, Apple employees and, pointedly to one far side, the media.
I sat in the front couple of rows a few times, and was once knocked to the floor by Steve Wozniak rushing to hug Jobs after one keynote. I was offered this privileged position – in the first rows, not on the floor at the feet of the two Apple founders – because of my job as Editor of Macworld, which put on the massive Expo and therefore hosted the keynote. When Apple pushed us aside as show organiser I had to cower in the far-off Media section, and a new super-elite “Apple VVIP” status was bestowed on the chosen few.
(In 2001 I found a better seat in the Deaf section of the hall – mirroring Steve’s own predisposition to park his car in the Disabled spots of Apple’s campus carpark. We were given full sign language coverage of Steve’s speech, except when he announced the launch of iTunes, which held no special interest for those sitting around me.)
The Apple CEO keynotes are an ultra-slick affair but dressed down as a casual chat among friends. The crowds are expected to whoop and cheer at every amazing sales statistic, and faint in the aisles when a new product rises from the stage.
To give Steve a little rest every now and again his comedy sidekick Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, took over. In 1999 Steve had him jump from a great height into a stunt bag to show how sturdy the new candy-coloured iBook laptop was if dropped from a great height with a senior member of Apple’s executive team. Why Phil? Can you imagine the indignity of Steve leaping off a crane onto the stage. It goes to prove that when Steve said “Jump”, everyone at Apple jumped. Literally. To be honest if he’d told the audience to go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge half of the people there would have done just that.
The most anticipated part of a Steve Jobs keynote came right at the end. Although we all knew it’s was going to happen Steve almost made as if to leave the stage but then turned in a hammy fashion to announce “But there’s one more thing”. This is when he announced a product or service that had the crowd in such raptures that the attendees in the wheelchair section got up and ran down the aisles, and the public started weeping with orgiastic joy for such delightful surprises as the AirPort Base Station, iPod shuffle, MacBook Air and Safari for Windows (bit of a damp squib that last one, to be honest).
Steve is so careful about his big presentations that he refused to use PowerPoint. It’s too corporate, too boring and it’s made by Microsoft. Ok, it would be funny if it crashed mid-keynote, but that would just point a finger at Mac Office instability in front of the watching world. No, Steve needed something much more cool, friendly and wizzy. So he got Apple’s software guys to write a presentation program just for him. It had razor-sharp charts to show off the company’s billion dollar profits and marching upwards market share. It had transitions that were as cool as the G4 Cube. And no one else had anything like it – until Apple released it to the world in 2003. In 2005 it became part of mini-office suite iWork. In its folksy way the Keynote icon is a wooden lectern with a pile of notes on it – quite the opposite of how Steve gives his presentations, striding from one side of the stage to the other, sitting at a desk or at the end plumped into a luxury sofa.
While all the other versions of Mac OS X are named after ferocious big cats, the Public Beta of the operating system was code-named Kodiak – after a type of big, brown Grizzly bear from Alaska.
In 1987 John Sculley, then Apple CEO, came up with an idea for a book-sixed tablet device called the Knowledge Navigator that can access a worldwide network of hypertext information using a touch-based gesture and speech interface. The user can have the device serve him or her newspaper articles, play videos (presumably not in Flash), navigate in maps and sayellite imagery, calendar meetings, and deliver messages from friends and colleagues. It’ll never catch on.
Apple didn’t just used to make computers, phones, tablets and iPad cases. It used to make printers, too. And in many ways it was the LaserWriter and not the Mac itself that really got Apple’s new computing platform up and running. The Mac was fine and fancy, cute and cool, but the LaserWriter was actually a useful professional tool and not just something to swoon over – although it was worth a swoon itself.
It was the first laser printer to utilise Adobe’s PostScript language that described fonts in outline form – therefore allowing for sizes from tiny to huge (or at least 72 point), rotation and position, as well as mixtures of fonts and bitmaps on the same page. Other laser printers relied on more primitive, inferior layout languages.
The first LaserWriter had only 13 fonts: Times (4), Helvetica (4), Courier (4) and Symbol (1). ITC Zapf Chancery (Medium Italic) was planned as part of this set, but the Type 1 version wasn’t ready in time, according to TypeTalk.
These were the days when Apple and Adobe were bosom buddies, and the two companies signed their PostScript agreement just one month before the introduction of the Macintosh. Apple planned an entire Macintosh Office suite of tools, including a fileserver and Unix workstation – the latter two of which never showed up for the Office party.
The marriage of Mac and LaserWriter transformed desktop publishing, as it could be used to accurately proof professional print jobs and even handle smaller-run publishing itself. With its innovative LocalTalk networking connection the printer could be shared by multiple Macs.
The LaserWriter ran a Motorola 68000 processor at 12MHz, and so was more powerful than the 8MHz Mac itself. But power and PostScript came at a price: $6,995 to be precise.
Until 1987 the LaserWriter was a creamy white colour compared to the less-bright beige of the Mac and other Apple products. But after that date it conformed to the new greyer Platinum colour scheme that was used across all Apple hardware. Over-excited at the launch of the eMate a few months earlier Apple added some translucent green parts to 1997’s LaserWriter 8500, beating even the original iMac in the non-beige race. This flagrant breach of the rules was punished by the 8500 being the last LaserWriter ever.
Mac OS X 10.5 was named Leopard but actually changed its spots more than the other big cat versions of OS X. It sported 300 new features, including a redesigned Finder (including Cover Flow), Dock (now in 3D!) and menu bar, as well as Stacks, Spaces, Time Machine, Quick Look, Boot Camp, Front Row and Photo Booth.
Ominously for the Mac Leopard was the first operating system actually delayed by the company focusing on the iPhone. It was supposed to debut at the end of 2006, but got shunted back to October 2007. The shame of it.
It was also the last OS X version to work on PowerPC Macs, although some of its functions did require an Intel chip.
The Leopard DVD came in a smaller box than previous versions of OS X, and featured a whizzy lenticular cover, making the X float above a purple galaxy, as on the rather gloomy Leopard desktop wallpaper.
Mac OS X 10.6 was much less interesting, and so was known as Snow Leopard – an animal that looks just like a Leopard but a little more cool.
Steven Levy used to write a popular column in Macworld magazine, and was a senior editor at Newsweek before becoming a senior writer at Wired. He is the author of the book ‘Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything’, which was one of the first to delve into the history and illuminating characters at Apple Computer. In 2004 he wrote a cover story for Newsweek that included an interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs and surprisingly announced the latest iPod before Steve had the chance to do so in front of a fawning Expo audience.
Apple really pissed people off when, after ten years, it changed its 30-pin iPhone/iPod/iPad connector, starting with the iPhone 5. Great, Lightning has a properly cool name (it’s the only flash allowed in the Apple universe), and is super skinny, and, yes, it fits in either way round… but what about all the millions of speakers, docks, battery cases and gizmos that require the old 30-pin connector?
Does Apple care? Couldn’t it have at least used a similar-sized, universal micro USB plug? Of course not, but it does sell two adaptors (£25 and £30) as if it didn’t have enough money already!
Despite having a stormy name just like Thunderbolt today’s Lightning connector is closer to USB 2.0 than 3.0 speeds, so it’s not really any faster than the old 30-pin connector. It allowed Apple to make the iPhone 5 thinner, and, you know, sell a few more adaptors.
As King of the Jungle, the lion is surely the daddy of all the big cats. What on Earth is Apple going to call the ninth version of OS X – or is that a clue that Mac OS 11 is on the way?
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (July 2011) features 250 new features, including multitouch gestures, full-screen apps, Mission Control, the Mac App Store, Launchpad, Resume, Auto Save, Versions, AirDrop, and improvements to Mail.
It is the first Mac OS version not to ship on a physical disk or disc, being available only as a download from the Mac App Store.
Before the Mac there was 1983’s Lisa, Apple’s first stab at a computer graphical user interface. Indeed the Lisa was the first commercially sold personal computer to have a GUI. The Mac is no Lisa 2.0 but the similarities are obvious.
It was the Lisa team, under Steve Jobs, that visited Xerox Parc in 1979 to see the mouse-based innovative Smalltalk user interface research – and not the Mac team as legend has it.
Indeed there was much animosity between the Lisa and Macintosh teams.
“The Lisa project reportedly cost $50 million and used more than 200 person-years of effort,” said Byte magazine in 1983. The Apple II took just 25 person years to create from scratch.
However when Jobs was bounced from the Lisa team he determined that the Mac would be the bigger platform and he took his Xerox secrets to the smaller Mac team. The Lisa was as good as dead right then.
But, at the time, it was recognised as a revolutionary product.
“For more than two years, stories about the project have circulated – focused around the notion that this would be the company’s breakthrough product for the 1980s, intended to do for office systems what the original Apple did for the entire field of personal computing,” wrote Michael Rogers in the February 1983 edition of Personal Computing magazine in a feature on ‘The Birth of Lisa’.
Steve Jobs’ daughter Lisa was born in 1978 – the same year Apple began work on the computer. Andy Hertzfeld of the original Apple team reports that both “Lisa” and “Mac” were just internal code-names and were planned to be replaced with some marketing-led titles. This was a period when all of Apple’s development projects were given women’s names, according to the Personal Computing article.
When the name Lisa stuck they tried to make it into an acronym, with the clumsy result being “Local Integrated Software Architecture”. It was such a crass mouthful that it was mocked as “Let’s Invent Some Acronym” by beardy wags.
In some ways the Lisa was more technically advanced than the Mac. For example, it featured Protected Memory, a feature the Mac wouldn’t gain until Lisa Jobs was an adult, with the arrival of OS X in 2001.
But the $10,000 Lisa was not a success. The Lisa was a loser. It suffered the double indignity of being rebranded the Macintosh XL in 1985 (oh, the shame of it!) and then being mass dumped in a Utah landfill in 1989 as a tax write off.
That’s harsh for what the then influential Byte magazine considered in 1983 more influential than the IBM PC: “The Lisa system is the most important development in computers in the last five years, easily outpacing IBM’s introduction of the Personal Computer in August 1981”.
It makes you wonder what the hell they did with all the unsold G4 Cubes…
‘The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer’ (1984) by Michael Moritz was one of the first books exploring the people and products of Apple Computer’s early years. It was recently updated with a bolt-on chapter, as ‘Return To The Little Kingdom’ (2009). I think Moritz might now need to write a few more chapters just a couple of years later…
Apple fans love Star Wars, and Apple founder Steve Jobs bought Pixar from Star Wars creator George Lucas when Lucas was at a financial low point following the loss of merchandising revenue after Return of the Jedi, an expensive divorce and the disastrous Howard The Duck movie. NeXT founder Jobs probably sympathised with his plight.
Apple didn’t used to think so hard about its product names: the Apple I was followed by the Apple II, and Apple III. The Lisa was named after a child, for goodness sake – possibly Steve Jobs’ child but equally possible one of the engineer’s kids, or maybe a cat. The Macintosh was named after a type (or, more appropriately for a company run by Steve Jobs, a “cultivar”) of apple.
Even then, for legal reasons, Apple couldn’t spell it the correct way (McIntosh). Despite Steve’s attempts to muscle high-end audio equipment maker McIntosh (which now has its own iPhone app), Apple had to jam an ‘a’ in there, in much the same way they now add an ‘i’ to generic names for things.
Apple no longer names its products after apples or apple-associated people (eg. the Newton), or even children – although I’m sure that there are people who name their children after Apple products.
It’s the iMac, not the ApplePieMac. There’s no CrumblePad. The Apple Store isn’t the Apple Tart Mart.
But the Macintosh remains, albeit without the folksy “intosh” part these days. And who would have it any other way? Remember that Steve wanted to call it ‘Bicycle’!
But for most of us the Mac is still at the heart of Apple, despite all the iPhones, iPods and iPads in our homes and offices. It wasn’t the first graphical user interface (first there was Xerox’s Star and Apple’s own Lisa) but it rapidly became the best and hasn’t looked back since. Although it quickly lost the lead in terms of sales the Mac is still the best, most-friendly graphical OS that others forever will follow.
While the Macintosh was a triumph of hardware design its real masterpiece was the operating system.
Leaving aside its big, loser sister Lisa, the Mac was the first mainstream computer that boasted a proper graphical user interface (GUI).
As such the interactive Mac stood out as something really different compared to PCs still tied to the terribly boring MS-DOS command-line interface.
Before Mac OS X there were nine major and not so major versions of Mac OS:
System 1.0 – January 1984
System 2.0 – April 1985
System 3.0 – January 1986
System 4.0 – January 1987
System 5.0 – October 1987
System 6.0 – April 1988
System 7 – May 1991
Mac OS 8 – July 1997
Mac OS 9 – October 1999
Mac OS X
There have now been more major releases of Mac OS X as there were “System x” versions of the pre-Aqua Macintosh operating system. (I’m not including Mac OS 8 or OS 9 as they weren’t named “System 8” or “System 9”, and anyway that would ruin my opening statement here, wouldn’t it?)
Apple had been planning to completely rewrite its Mac operating system since 1987, and had got itself in a right old mess – see Copland.
In the end it had to go out of house and buy Steve Jobs’ NeXT to use as the basis of the new-generation OS with an all-new codebase, file system, hardware support, etc.
Buying NeXT also meant it got not just some decent code but its old founder and principal visionary back in control. This meant that not only did the new OS solve years of accumulated system code messiness but it both looked and functioned years ahead of the Windows and Linux competition.
Gil Amelio’s Mac OS 10 (he’d have never dreamt up using the Roman ‘X’) would have looked like Mac OS 9 with a bell and the odd whistle. (Come to think of it, I wish there was a Whistle sound in Mac OS X – come back Gil, all is forgiven!)
The really neat thing about Mac OS X was that it boasted not just the modern codebase but a gorgeous new look (dubbed Aqua) while largely adhering to Apple’s scared Human Interface Guidelines – and so behaved much like the old Mac systems (top-screen pull-down menu, keyboard shortcuts, Finder, etc).
Aqua gave us full-colour scalable graphics, text and image anti-aliasing, simulated shading and highlights, transparency and shadows, and animation. At the bottom of the screen was the Dock application launcher that used all these capabilities to the max – see Magnification Effect.
Another handy feature that meant users could upgrade their system almost immediately was the Classic Mode that ran old pre-OS X software in an emulation area.
Aside from the Public Beta’s code-name of Kodiak, after a giant Alaskan Bear, Apple named the first bunch of Mac OS X versions after big cats, until it ran out of interesting ones, and moved onto weird-sounding places in California, which it should never run out of.
Mac OS X versions:
Mac OS X Server 1.0 – released March 16, 1999
Mac OS X Public Beta (code-name “Kodiak”) – September 13, 2000
Mac OS X 10.0 (“Cheetah”) – March 24, 2001
Mac OS X 10.1 (“Puma”) – September 25, 2001
Mac OS X 10.2 (“Jaguar”) – August 24, 2002
Mac OS X 10.3 (“Panther”) – October 24, 2003
Mac OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) – April 29, 2005
Mac OS X 10.5 (“Leopard”) – October 26, 2007
Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) – August 28, 2009
Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) – July 20, 2011
Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) – February 16, 2012
Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) – June 10, 2013
Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) – June 2, 2014
Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) – June 8, 2015
To put it simply MacPaint (created by Bill Atkinson) was and possibly still is the best application ever on the Macintosh or any computer for that matter. Ok, so maybe it’s not as mind-blowing as TypeStyler but it was brilliant all the same. It worked in black-&-white only but you could spray-paint brick patterns and brush-on nets, stripes, spots and things that looked like roof tiles. Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 5.5 can’t do that.
Don’t believe me? The New York Times said that MacPaint “is better than anything else of its kind offered on personal computers by a factor of 10.”
The premiere issue of Macworld magazine was released on the very same day as the Macintosh itself. It was handed out to all the attendees at Steve Jobs’ Mac launch event, and featured a foreword by him and his photo on its cover – although it very nearly didn’t. Macworld founder David Bunnell got Jobs to agree to star on the cover of issue 1, but Steve said he could only spare a few moments.
After insisting on changes to the shoot he asked photographer Will Mosgrove “Are you one of those type of photographers who takes dozens of photos hoping one of them will turn out okay? Well, take a picture of this,” Steve said, holding up his middle finger.
Bunnell tells the story of how two weeks later Jobs called him to say he no longer wanted to be on the cover. “Too late, the cover is already at the printer and we can’t change it,” bluffed Bunnell, and the fledgling magazine had its scoop.
While not as fun as MacPaint its companion app MacWrite (created by Randy Wigginton) was the first proper WYSIWYG word processor with multiple fonts and basic text styles – Microsoft Word was released a year earlier for MS DOS but couldn’t render fonts. Developers moaned that Apple including MacWrite for free limited their chances for a competitor, but this didn’t stop Microsoft launching Word 1.0 for Mac in 1985, which wiped the floor of all of them. The Mac version of Word outsold the DOS version for the next four years.
Much fun is made of the hyperbole in a Steve Jobs and Apple keynote: “great,” “phenomenal,” “tremendous,” “beautiful,” “unbelievable,” “incredible,” “terrific,” “amazing,” “awesome,” and “gorgeous”. But has Steve reached a new high with his description of the iPad as “magical”. That leaves just “holy” left for the introduction of the next iPhone.
Apple stripped out the fun sounds from the Mac OS (see Boing) but in its early days OS X made up for its in pulsating “lickable” Aqua loveliness. Probably the most amazing wow-factor in the brand new system – and unlike most of the Aqua visual elements it survives today – was the Dock’s Magnification Effect. As you move your cursor from one side of the Dock to the other the luscious icons balloon in size, and ripple like a Mexican Wave of application appreciation. Back in the early days of Mac OS X all you had to do was moon around with the magnifying Dock to make non-Mac users swoon and look back at their Windows PCs with a certain amount of shame and indignation.
Armas Clifford Markkula Jr, or Mike for short, was Apple’s most important angel investor at its start up. After retiring at the age of 32 after making his millions at Fairchild and Intel Mike invested $250,000 ($80,000 as an equity investment in the company and $170,000 as a loan; see Markkula and Jobs pictured above) to become a one-third owner of Apple and its employee number 3. (Woz had been appointed Apple employee #1, so Jobs appointed himself employee #0.) Initially he was there to provide “adult supervision” to Jobs and Woz but stayed as Apple chairman from 1985 till 1997. In 1985 he sided with CEO John Sculley in forcing Jobs out of the company. Tellingly, he left Apple when Steve returned in 1997.
Apple’s arch enemy, nemesis, copyist, lead developer, investor, saviour, and company recently viewed disappearing in Apple’s rear-view mirror. A rum-looking bunch, aren’t they?
Just step inside an Apple Store. It’s not a bit like Woolworths, is it? It’s plain and simple, yet elegant and functional – everything Apple and its products are about. And it comes straight from the top: co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs.
The iPod isn’t covered in buttons and lights (although the first dock-connector iPod was way over the top). It has a wheel for navigating and a couple of buttons on the side. You could actually look inside the first iMac, and see its sparse internal beauty.
John Sculley, the man who Jobs hired who then forced Jobs out of Apple, says Steve’s minimalism isall about simplification: “He’s a minimalist and constantly reducing things to their simplest level. It’s not simplistic. It’s simplified. Steve is a systems designer. He simplifies complexity.”
Take a look at the photo above that was taken in Steve’s living room by White House photographer Diana Walker in 1982. All Steve has are a record player, an amp, a cup of tea, a lamp, and some notebooks. Nowadays Apple makes enough minimalist products that mean he wouldn’t need anything but the cup of tea.
Jobs explained the lack of household items: “This was a very typical time. I was single. All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo, you know, and that’s what I had.”
Now take a look at the office of Apple Board member and US Vice President Al Gore. Maybe it’s little wonder that Steve always finds what he’s looking for, and Al lost something.
Motorola supplied the first processors for Apple’s computers from the Lisa’s MC68000 until the PowerPC 7447 in 2005’s PowerBook G4. Even the Apple I’s MOS Technology 6502 was designed by old Motorola chip designers. Motorola also made Apple’s first mobile phone, the very lacklustre ROKR – now desperately trying to be forgotten in the era of the iPhone.
Google recently surprised everybody by suddenly buying Motorola for $12.5 billion. Google co-founder Larry Page explained that buying Motorola was a move to protect Android from patent lawsuits by both Microsoft and Apple – which he said “are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android”. It also means that Google can now build on Motorola’s previous Apple-phone successes to launch a new Android-based ROKR.
Apple was the first computer manufacturer to take Doug Engelbart’s mouse seriously, and used it first on the ill-fated Lisa before it made its name alongside the Macintosh. Apple first experimented with a four-button mouse before deciding that just the one button was more user friendly. While everyone else added more and more buttons on their mice Apple stuck with one until 2005’s Mighty Mouse, which had left and right capacitive sensors and a dirt-attracting trackball that could be pressed for a click – but no real “buttons” to speak of. The company’s latest gizmo is the touch-sensitive Magic Trackpad, which does away with the moving mouse altogether and poisons the whole multi-button debate.
Apple shocked the gadget world in 2005 when it scrapped its best-selling iPod, the iPod mini, for an altogether different product, the iPod nano. Was ‘nano’ so much a better name than ‘mini’ that the successful brand had to be squashed immediately in favour of the new one? Apple probably thought ‘mini’ just not small enough to describe the new miniscule – I mean nanoscule – MP3 player. The nano was smaller than the mini – although it was only 0.1 inch shorter.
Just as Apple had used the ‘mini’ name outside of the iPod stable, for its boxy little Mac desktop, everyone expected there to be ‘nano’ everything else: a Mac nano, iPhone nano, MacBook nano, etc. But none ever appeared, proving either that Apple isn’t so fond of the name after its initial burst of excitement, or it can’t shrink its other products by 0.1 inch.
In November 1984 Apple spent more than US$2.5 million to buy all 39 advertising pages in a special post-election edition of Newsweek magazine. It included stuff that Apple still believes in, such as “Macintosh was designed by people who know everything there is to know about computers, so that you wouldn’t have to. It doesn’t come with volumes of instruction manuals to explain how to use it, because it comes with 200-person-years of built-in software that make Macintosh easier to use.”
14 years before the iPhone and 17 before the iPad Apple threatened to turn computing on its head by releasing a handheld PC that you could fit in your pocket – if you had really big pockets.
The first real mass-market PDA was made by British company Psion but it was Apple CEO John Sculley who actually termed the phrase “Personal Digital Assistant” to describe the device, which spawned a range of non-Apple PDAs such as the Palm Pilot.
The big thing about this not-so-little thing was its handwriting recognition, which unfortunately was on launch about as accurate as a 10-day weather forecast. It effectively damned the device from Day One – even when it was immeasurably improved in later versions that used Apple ‘Rosetta’ technology rather than the original Russian-based ‘Calligrapher’ software.
On its debut the handwriting recognition dictionary contained just 10,000 words – about the same as a bookish six-year-old child.
Like the iPhone and iPad that followed it so many years later the Newton MessagePad was cute – it could be rotated in portrait and landscape modes. You wrote on the screen with a little stylus, and you could scratch out words to be deleted and circle text to be selected.
The eMate also used the Newton operating system, and there were reportedly plans to launch a colour bMate aimed at the business market.
The Newton suffered not just from its initial reception but also from its bulk – in direct contrast to today’s Apple products the Newton got bigger and heavier with each new release [Newton model dimensions and tech specs]. Palm’s Pilot PDA was a hit because you really could fit it in your pocket. Apple’s planned Newton LC mini MessagePad never saw the light of day, or the dark linty inside of a fanboy’s pocket.
Disgruntled Newton engineers stormed off in a huff for Palm, and two set up a small company called Pixo that Apple later bought to use for its operating system for the iPod.
On his return to Apple in 1997 Steve Jobs derided the Newton as “a little scribble thing”, and killed it off much to the dismay of all the third-party giant pocket manufacturers.
In 1997 Apple CEO Gil Amelio decided to spin off the Newton division into its own wholly owned subsidiary of Apple Computer. This is either a good thing (“Go on, bright new thing, here’s some cash. Go out and do great things!”) or something more ominous (“Get that crappy thing out of my sight so I won’t see its crying face when we kill it”).
The Apple logo-shaped moulding on the face of the MessagePad 2000 was changed to a circular indentation that was intended to hold the Newton Inc logo. But by the time the units arrived from Japanese maker Sharp Jobs had pulled Newton back into Apple. Trainspotters’ fact: Pen Computing reports that the final MP2100 cases have an Apple logo painted in the “wrong-looking round spot”, while the Newton logo and the words “Newton Technology” are silk-screened in the upper left face of the unit.
A suite of business apps for the Newton, including a word processor and an Excel-compatible spreadsheet called QuickFigure Pro, developed by PelicanWare.
When Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple after his 1985 attempted coup against one-time pal and Apple ally John Sculley he was just 30 years old. He was a multi-millionaire and could have retired to spend more time removing furniture from his minimalist mansion. But Steve’s not like that. Even when he has an apparently terminal disease he just takes a temporary break from work. And he had a point to prove. And prove that point he did – except not quite as quickly as he’d have liked.
After he’d cleared his desk of tech knick-knacks, bow ties and photos of Woz, Jobs rounded up his best people from the Mac division and informed Apple that he was starting a new computer company aimed at the higher-education market. In a typical example of brand minimalism and a little pointer to his later obsession with lower-case vowels he named his next company NeXT.
He had recently met chemistry Nobel winner Paul Berg who had blubbed about the need for a super educational computer that could boast a whole megabyte of RAM. Jobs foresaw a computer that was powerful enough to research recombinant DNA but cheap enough to allow students to play Pong in their dorms.
Apple was miffed at Jobs taking away its best people – even though history was to prove that it had got rid of its own best person – and it tried to sue NeXT for “nefarious schemes”. Jobs snapped back: “It is hard to think that a $2 billion company with 4,300-plus people couldn’t compete with six people in blue jeans.”
The NeXT offices were situated in a glass and concrete building that featured a staircase designed by Louvre glass pyramid architect I. M. Pei. It had simple hardwood flooring and large worktables where the NeXT PCs would be assembled. Sound familiar? It probably had a Genius Bar, as well.
Of course Jobs knows nano about making cheap computers. The first retail NeXT computer did sell for less than $10,000 – by a whole $1. Jobs had spent a fortune on the NeXT logo and on the computer’s design – a one-foot magnesium cube.
When reviewers of the NeXTcube suggested that it was late, Jobs hit back in classic Steve style: “Late? This computer is five years ahead of its time!”
Although it did have its notable successes – Tim Berners-Lee used a NeXT computer to create the first web browser and server – the hardware just didn’t catch on and was scrapped in 1993.
NeXT had little more success with its software arm, which created an object-oriented, multi-tasking operating system, until a beleaguered Apple begged Steve to sell its NeXTSTEP as the basis of its, er, NeXT-generation OS.
Steve flogged an on-its-kness NeXT to his old company for $429m and 1.5 million shares in Apple, and quickly ousted floundering CEO Gil Amelio to take back control of the company. NeXTStep became Mac OS X, and the rest is history.
Newspapers and magazines, news agencies, bloggers and websites have for decades kept regularly updated obituaries of public figures and celebrities in the safe knowledge that everyone dies eventually. In the case of Keith Richards this has meant a lot of updating for no reward. And sometimes newsmen write up the wrong people. For instance, who’d have thought that the first of the Fairytale of New York duo to die would be Kirsty McColl and not Shane McGowan?
But actually publishing a person’s obituary is a rarity. Mark Twain was forced to quip “The report of my death was an exaggeration” when the New York Journal ran a story on his apparent death in 1897. He died 13 years later.
In August 2008 newswire Bloomberg accidentally published its 17-page obituary for Steve Jobs, marked “Hold for release – Do not use”. The obituary embarrassingly contained blank spaces for his age and cause of death to be inserted. It also included praise from arch-rival Microsoft boss Bill Gates, and details of other Jobs friends and colleagues to be contacted by Bloomberg in the event of his death.
Jobs responded at an Apple keynote a month later by quoting Twains “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” line. At a later media event Jobs finished his presentation with a slide reading “110/70”, referring to his blood pressure.
In the end the media splurged semi-obituaries when Jobs quit as CEO and became Chairman. A few weeks later Steve was dead, and another avalanche of obituaries hit the wires.
One more thing
We might never see another Steve Jobs keynote again but we’ll all remember his mostly fantastic ‘One More Thing’ conclusions.
Steve would wrap up his presentation list of stats, review of positive sales, new products, latest adverts and introductions to a few people very very boring because they weren’t Steve not with a bow or a chorus line knees up with Phil Schiller but with a three-word slide that got everyone’s adrenaline pumping.
The products or services revealed during ‘OMT’ don’t all look so exciting now, but included: AirPort Wi-Fi (exciting at the time), PowerBook G4 (nice), Power Mac G5 (didn’t mention its god-awful buzz), video iPod (wow), MacBook Pro (still looked like a PowerBook), iPod shuffle (double wow), Apple TV (rubbish), Safari for Windows (yawn!), iPod touch (very nice), MacBook Air (you know, in that envelope), MacBook not Pro, video-camera-toting iPod nano (why did they scrap it?), Facetime (nice), Apple TV again (still rubbish), and MacBook Air (no doubt even thinner and with even less slots).
A cut-down version of NeXT’s NeXTStep operating system. It was OpenStep that was used as the basis of Mac OS X when Apple bought NeXT in 1996.
See Mac OS X.
The media fascination with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs reached a new high on news of his August 2011 resignation as CEO. Apple is doomed cried many. It’s business as usual, calmed others. But Steve resigning has happened before – and then he left the company altogether (he remains as Chairman today, although in poor health). What was the outcry then? Not so different, but certainly less affectionate.
In 1985, just a year after the revolutionary launch of the Macintosh itself, Steve Jobs found himself clearing his desk at Apple’s Cupertino HQ. Into the hemp bag went his signed photo of Woz, Mont Blanc pen and “You’re Fired!” ink-stamp. Jobs had been forced out of the company he’d founded after a power struggle with John Sculley, the Pepsi marketing whizz he’d recruited as CEO to turn Apple into the first true consumer computer brand.
When news reached Sculley that Jobs was planning a coup, he acted fast – forcing Steve into the non-operational role as company chairman.
“There is no role for Steve Jobs in the running of this company either today or in the future. But there is a role for Steve Jobs as chairman of the board,” said Sculley, smiting his old pal.
Sensing defeat, Steve got the hump and resigned, taking a small crew of Apple staff with him to go off and form his next company, simply called NeXT.
”We have the foundations in place for a really great Apple,” said the victorious Sculley. ”We talk about vision and what Steve contributed to vision, and it’s an immense contribution, no doubt about it”.
”Computers were big boring blue boxes until Steve Jobs came along,” he continued his measured praise. “And Apple will continue to be driven by the same vision of making computers for the individual in a youth-oriented company”
”But people tend to confuse vision with innovation. The real question is innovation, and most of the innovation, including the innovations in Macintosh, came from a lot of people.”
“Steve’s great contribution was recognizing that computers were tools for individuals and not large blue boxes for institutions. That doesn’t change, whether Steve is here or not.”
Fast forward 26 years to the Jobs’ successor as CEO, Tim Cook’s statement about Steve leaving Apple:
“Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that – it is in our DNA. I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees.”
Just as this time the press got very excited by Steve’s 1985 jump.
The Miami News quoted top people at Apple saying “We have put our individual egos aside and are putting teamwork in place.”
InfoWorld’s Kevin Strehlo believed “the shuffle could aid Apple”: “Apple is making the transition from one phase of its life to the next. I don’t know that the image of a leader clad in a bow tie, jeans, and suspenders would help us survive in the coming years.”
(It should be noted here that Kevin here is using the US definition of suspenders as trouser braces!)
Apple executive vice president William V. Campbell was quoted in The New York Times: ”We’ve been without Steve Jobs for the better part of four months. Since that time we’ve been doing just fine.”
But NYT writer Andrew Pollack urged caution in the post-Jobs celebrations: “Apple, while having a solid management, still might miss Mr Jobs. Some analysts and former employees are worried that Apple is losing its spark and becoming stodgy, a process some refer to as ‘Scullification’.
Pollack could be writing in 26 years later when he notes: “Product direction for the next six months to a year is already fairly well set. But problems could arise in a year or two, when the time comes to develop completely new products. Almost all analysts and company officials say that Jobs lent a certain creative spark and vision to Apple.”
Writing in Fortune magazine Bro Uttal quotes one of the Apple insiders shocked by Steve’s removal: ”They’ve cut the heart out of Apple and substituted an artificial one. We’ll just have to see how long it pumps.”
Uttal, too, is concerned for a Jobs-less Apple: “What Apple must do is hold together and carry out the latest product and marketing plans. To remain a strong contender in the long run, the company will also need the kinds of breakthrough products to which Jobs is devoted.
“If he does leave, the company will lose a champion of innovation, a foe of bureaucracy, and a priceless proselytizer to the rest of the world.”
Even more on the money was Washington Post writer T.R. Reid: “The directors of Apple have made an outrageous and potentially fatal blunder in taking their company away from the founding father then turning it over to a generic marketing man. The computer industry is littered with the corpses of promising companies that were managed into oblivion by marketing ‘experts’ who had no particular feel for silicon and software.
“The distinguishing thing about Steven Jobs is that he has a vision, a pervasive philosophy, about the role of personal computers in modern life. Over the long haul, Apple sans Steven Jobs is not going to be a pretty sight.”
It wasn’t, but Steve came back 12 years later to save Apple. That won’t happen this time round, but we hope Cook is right about the Jobs DNA being fully absorbed into the company he dreamed up, led, left, rescued and took to the very top of the technology tree.
(Thanks to Technologizer for sourcing the above media quotes of Steve’s original Apple exit.)
Seemingly the opposite of the Mac and everything Apple, of course the term PC or Personal Computer applies just as much to Apple as it does Microsoft, Windows and the legion of dull, beige (now slightly plasticky grey/silver) boxes called PCs. In fact there’s no computer more personal than one of Apple’s, be it a Mac, iPhone or iPad – for all are personal computers. Unlike Microsoft, Dell, HP et al Apple somehow builds in not just personification but personality into its computers and its brand.
DOS and Windows PCs are faceless. The Mac not only had a face, it even said “Hello”.
But the term “PC” will forever be damned as the rather lousy beige box, after 1981’s IBM Personal Computer. Its only real rival was the Apple II.
The IBM PC was still at heart at business machine, albeit one that could fit in a house if you took it home from work. IBM tried to emulate the success of the IBM PC with a January 1984 home computer it casually titled PCjr – admittedly better than its nickname, Peanut.
It had joystick ports and even an infrared wireless keyboard, but it cost twice as much as the Commodore 64 and the keyboard had just 62 keys to the PC’s 83. Apple’s almost simultaneous announcement of the Mac at the start of 1984 took away any glamour IBM had hoped for at its launch, and Apple reduced Apple II prices to undercut it. It was discontinued in March 1985.
Aldus PageMaker was the Mac’s first professional killer app, combining with the Mac, LaserWriter and Adobe’s PostScript to form the Fabulous Four of desktop Publishing. The WYSIWYG page-layout program was introduced for the Mac in 1985 but not for Windows until 1987, by which time the Mac had become the de facto computer platform for DTP.
The first thing you saw when launching PageMaker was a picture of a strange-looking Renaissance dude – one Aldus Pius Manutius (1449-1515). What the hell was he doing at the forefront of computer-based desktop publishing?
Well, PageMaker’s software developer Aldus was named after the founder of the Venetian Aldine Press. Manutius was the inventor of italic type and established the modern use of the semicolon. Dude! He also invented inexpensive, small-format, vellum-bound books that were the ancestor of the modern paperback. Double dude!
Aldus, the company not the dude, was eventually bought by Adobe in 1994 and stagnated while upstart DTP program QuarkXPress stole the market from it. The last full version, PageMaker 7.0, was released in 2001. Eventually Adobe got its act together and launched InDesign to steal back the DTP crown in 2004.
Patents protect inventors from other people stealing their ideas. But the world wouldn’t move very fast if that meant only the person or company could ever make use of the invention.
Technologies such as Wi-Fi, 3G, USB and Blu-ray need to have wide adoption to become standards, so there are licensing obligations that ensure compatibility and interoperability of devices manufactured by different companies whereby anyone can license a patented technology as long as they pay a fee. This is known as the FRAND agreement: that patents be shared and licensed on Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory terms.
This arrangement was working pretty well until all hell broke loose with most of the big tech firms fighting each other in the mobile Patent Wars.
Previously companies used their patents to defend themselves. Now they’re using them as weapons, and deploying them all over the world. The war’s gone nuclear.
It’s difficult to tell who started the Patent Wars but there’s little doubt it’s already got ugly and is getting nastier by the day.
Apple and Samsung are suing each other in several countries. Apple is also fighting Motorola and HTC. Indeed the bulk of the patent battles are effectively Apple vs Android, with Google letting its smartphone and tablet hardware partners slug it out with the iPhone and iPad maker.
The courts are one day issuing an injunction stopping Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab in Europe, and the next banning iPhones in Germany, and iPads in China.
Patents are big money. Google bought Motorola’s Mobility division for $12.5 billion, ostensibly for its 17,000 registered patents.
Meanwhile Microsoft has quietly done deals with Android makers regarding its own patents, and is raking in the dollars rather than paying them to intellectual property lawyers. Microsoft earned an estimated $444 million in 2012 for licensing.
And who ends up paying for all these licence and lawyer fees? You guessed it… you and me, the consumer.
You’ve heard of the Newton and the iPad but did you know about Apple’s other tablet PC, 1993’s PenLite? Unlike the contemporaneous Newton this was no PDA but closer to the iPad, except – as the name suggests – with a stylus input device. It ran the normal Mac OS and was based on the innovative PowerBook Duo with a built-in floppy drive (eat your heart out iPad!), but sadly never made it out of Apple’s prototype labs.
Just like IBM’s PCJr in the mid-1980s Apple felt the need to market a home version of the Mac in 1992. Thankfully it was not called the Macjr. Less thankfully it was named the Performa – you know, like it can sure ‘perform’ but it’s not a professional ‘performer’, more a, er, ‘Performa’… man.
Unlike the PCjr the Performa range of Macs were not new at all, but rebadged versions of Apple’s equally badly named Centris, Quadra, LC and Power Macintosh models.
But they did have their own special versions of the Mac OS, eg. System 7.5P1, which featured functions such as the Launcher – which later made it into the pro Mac OS, too.
Performas came bundled with software, like ClarisWorks, typing tutors, encyclopedias with little QuickTime movies of spaceships, eWorld, and pinball games.
There were multiple models of Performa, in all shapes and sizes (all-in-one, pizza box, tower,
One forgotten part of Apple advertising history is the fictional family, the Martinettis, that Apple created to market the Performa range. Check out The Martinettis Bring A Computer Home videos. You’ll rush out to get a Performa for your home, too.
Except that you can’t because Apple scrapped the Performa range in 1997, after it and the Martinettis failed to capture the public’s imagination.
A year and one CEO later Apple released the iMac.
At the end of the 1970s former IBM man and later political maverick Ross Perot blew the chance to buy Microsoft from Bill Gates for as little as $15 million – a decision he recalled as “one of the biggest business mistakes I’ve ever made”.
He did manage to bankroll Steve Jobs when he left Apple in 1985, investing in his NeXT company. That wasn’t a great money-making decision either, as Perot had sold most of his NeXT shares by the time Apple came knocking with its wallet open.
However, without Perot’s millions NeXT wouldn’t have got as far as it did with the software that would eventually become Mac OS X and return Jobs to lead Apple back to world tech domination.
Perot once sprang some of his EDL employees out of an Iranian prison during the revolution there (a story later dramatised in Ken Follett’s ‘On Wings of Eagles’), and bought a copy of the Magna Carta – as you do.
Steve Jobs’ keynote comedy sidekick Phil Schiller also has a day job at Apple, as senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. He presented several Apple keynotes himself when boss Steve was ill, including the last ever Apple keynote at a Macworld Expo in January 2009.
Always smiling, Phil is a much-loved and cuddly member of the Apple executive team – see him here holding a Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger DVD. I once had lunch with Phil, and he was lovely.
If you thought IBM’s PCjr or Apple’s own Performa range were dismal failures then let me introduce you to the Pippin – another laboured apple-pun product name, alongside the Macintosh, Newton and Granny SmithPad.
It’s not officially an Apple product, as it went out under the Bandai brand, but it was designed by Apple, ran on PowerPC and used a stripped down version of System 7.5.2 as its operating system.
The Pippin was a 1995 attempt to create a games console that was also a network computer, or was it a network computer that was also a games console?
It doesn’t matter as it was too expensive to be either, and was discontinued after selling around 40,000 units in the US and Japan.
It didn’t even do very well in a round up of the “25 Worst Tech Products of all Time”, dragging its sorry little self in at number 22.
Addressing the Mac development team in January 1983, a year before the eventual launch, team leader Steve Jobs announced that “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy”.
Jobs wanted to keep the Mac team as a rogue unit within Apple, despite its growing numbers that were forcing the group to move to a larger building off Apple campus, known as Brandley 3.
Mac software programmer Steve Capps took Steve at his word and sewed a Jolly Roger with a skull and crossbones touting an Apple logo eye-patch created by Mac iconographer Susan Kare. The flag was hoisted above Brandley 3, and stayed there a year, with only one incident when the Lisa team kidnapped it.
Full story of the Apple pirate flag at Folklore.org.
Steve Jobs didn’t hang about after getting pushed out of Apple by lesser men in 1985. A few months later and he was in charge of a new computer company he’d founded, NeXT. The next year he acquired for $5m the Computer Division of Lucasfilm from Star Wars maker George Lucas. Steve invested another $5m in the company now to be known as Pixar.
Five years later Jobs flogged off the unsuccessful hardware side of the business, and one year after that in 1991 the struggling company signed a three-movie deal with Disney, which resulted in the phenomenally successful Toy Story – released in 1995, making $350m.
Pixar’s first five movies grossed more than $2.5 billion – the highest per-film average gross in the industry.
After some wrangling over share of profits and story rights Steve Jobs sold Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion, making him the largest shareholder in Disney with 7 percent of stock and a seat on the board of directors.
A year after his death Pixar named its Steve-designed HQ after the great man.
Apple’s fancy way of saying “grey” from Mac OS 8 to OS 9. (Quick question: why isn’t it called Platinium in the UK?) If you think Platinum is a little bit boring, take a look at some other themes Apple had for the Mac OS 8.5 look and feel.
At the same meeting where Steve Jobs told the Mac team that he wanted them to act like pirates he demanded a “Mac in a book by 1986”. As Steve himself was gone in 1985 the whip wasn’t cracked enough until 1989 when Apple shipped the Mac Portable. This wasn’t so much a “Mac in a book” as a Mac in a bookshop. It weighed a colossal 15.8lb (7.2kg), owing to its sealed lead-acid batteries, and cost $6,500 on release. It was swiftly nicknamed the “Luggable”. Like the Pippin it made the list of Worst Tech Products Of All Time, this time at number 17. It does have the honour of being the first off-the-shelf portable computer used in space and the first to send an email from space in August 1991.
Another Apple prototype that never saw the light of day, the – woeful name alert – PowerBop was a French WiFi PowerBook from 1993.
If NASA had waited a couple of months it could have left the Luggable back at base and taken a shiny new Apple PowerBook, which was launched in October 1991.
Realising that the Mac Portable was anything but, Apple sent the schematics to Sony to see if it could do a better job, which it did in spectacularly. The PowerBook 100 was a miniature revelation, with built-in trackball and side palm rests, plus its distinctive gun-metal grey casing.
After Mac this and Mac that Apple finally hit on a brilliant product name with the PowerBook, and still use an inferior variant, MacBook (from 2006), today.
Perhaps the most original of the PowerBooks was the PowerBook Duo. This more compact, ultraportable subnotebook was smaller than today’s MacBook Air but considerably fatter. Like the Air it didn’t boast many ports but enjoyed the benefit of special Duo Dock, Mini Dock and Micro Dock docking connectors.
The first and best of the Mac cloners from the era just before the return of Steve Jobs, who did a Terminator on the whole project, was Power Computing from Austin Texas.
Power Computing followed a Dell-like direct, build-to-order sales model. It shipped 100,000 Macs with revenues of $250 million in its first year, and was the first-ever company to sell $1 million of products on the internet.
The trouble with Power Computing was it was too successful for its own, and more importantly Apple’s, good. It undercut Apple pricing and offered faster, better Macs, and that was never going to go down well with the returning Jobs who sanctioned a $100m buyout before closing it and the whole Mac clone business in 1997.
“Apple has to let go of this ghost and invent the future,” he intoned.
Apple waited to follow the PowerBook name for its desktop computers until it started equipping them with PowerPC processors, and it stuck to the name from 1994 till 2006, when the Intel-based Mac Pro was introduced.
The first Power Mac, the 6100, was an ugly box but arrived alongside a deeper, better-looking 7100 and squat 8100 tower. The 5200 was a TV-like all-in-one, the 9100 a taller tower that pretty much became the standard look for top-end Power Macs thereafter.
In 1999 the Blue & White Power Mac G3 brought iMac colouring to the pro side, but a more muted (but sexier) Graphite colour scheme came in with the Power Mac G4. 2004’s Power Mac G5 ushered in the cool aluminium look that lasted nearly ten years until the Pro Mac.
Up until 1994 Apple’s computers ran on Motorola 68000 processors but in order to attack the dominant Intel-based Windows PCs in a straight-out performance battle Apple joined forces with old enemy IBM and existing supplier Motorola to create a new alliance called AIM (Apple, IBM, Motorola) and a new breed of RISC-based computer chip, the PowerPC.
Everything went swimmingly until IBM told Steve Jobs that a year after it’d produced a 2GHz G5 it would have a 3GHz G5 in a Mac. Jobs publicly announced just that on stage during his June 2003 WWDC keynote. Three years later and it had peaked at 2.7GHz. Despite blowing scorn on the “Megahertz Myth” Apple was hurting at this perceived performance gap between its pro Macs and Pentium PCs.
You don’t make Steve look like an idiot without serious consequences, and in 2005 Apple announced that it was dumping IBM, Motorola, AIM and PowerPC to use Intel processors just like everybody else.
“It’s been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel’s technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years,” said a pissed off Steve.
Apple products aren’t cheap, are they?
Puma was one of the big cats that Apple named its Mac OS X versions after that remained just a codename and not a pretty picture on the box, following OS X 10.0’s Cheetah – another great lost naming opportunity. 10.2 was the first version of OS X to ship as default operating system on Macs.
Before Steve Jobs simplified the company’s product range (see below) Apple gave its computers all sorts of nonsensical names, like Centris and Performa. One name that could at least be explained was the Quadra, which used Motorola’s 68040 processor – hence the ‘quad’. The Quadra line of pro desktop Macs was the last before Apple moved to superior PowerPC chips. Apple plastered multimedia features (video and audio ports, microphone, etc) all over a couple of Quadra models, meaning they could bear the name Quadra AV. The Quadra 630 was the first Mac to ditch internal SCSI disk drives for IDE. And that’s about as interesting as the Quadra got.
The graphics and imaging engine at the heart of Mac OS X. It replaced the previous imaging technology QuickDraw. Those guys really loved the letter ‘Q’.
There’s a myth that the British love to queue. We get very cross when foreign people rudely push in in front of us. But nobody loves queuing more than Apple fans. In the old days this meant queuing for hours in order to get into a Steve Jobs’ keynote at Macworld Expo. Today it means queuing for days and even weeks outside an Apple Store so you can be the first person to get their frozen malnourished hands on the latest iPhone or iPad. You might also get a free T-shirt – well worth sleeping rough for ten days in any Apple fanboy’s book. Nowadays the queues are full of poor people hoping to become rich by selling their new Apple gizmo to some wealthy dude in China or India – or more likely that wealthy dude paid them a pittance to queue up for him. At least the poor sap gets his face on the news, as people laugh at his or her foolishness.
Apple products haven’t always been the fastest, but when they are the company gets very excited. In 2003 Apple claimed that its Power Mac G5 was “the world’s fastest, most powerful personal computer”. It was so happy that it started advertising this boast in its slick TV ads. Unfortunately the UK Independent Television Commission (ITC) banned the ad after receiving just eight complaints from viewers. The ITC shared one viewer’s doubt that “the claim could be substantiated at all because computers are constantly being updated and have many different applications and benchmarks.”
US advertising watchdogs followed suit shortly afterwards. After that Apple just called its speediest product “the world’s fastest-ever Mac,” which was hardly going to entice Windows power users.
Written by Mac legends Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson QuickDraw was Apple’s 2D Application Programming Interface – the imaging core of the pre-OS X Mac OS. It was superseded by Quartz.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 he demanded that the company’s product lines be simplified. Where once there were 15 product platforms, Steve cut this back to just four: a consumer desktop and laptop, plus a pro desktop and laptop.
Steve claimed that even he couldn’t understand Apple’s “zillion and one” different products.
Out went a load of Apple-badged products, such as the Newton PDA and LaserWriter. Another casualty was Apple’s QuickTake – one of the first true consumer digital cameras.
There were three models of QuickTake: the 100, 150 (both made by Kodak) and 200 (FujiFilm).
The $749 QuickTake could store just eight VGA-quality photos. It was fixed-focus, and it had no zoom. You couldn’t preview your snaps on the original QuickTake 100, or delete them individually. And two of the models only worked with Macs. It wasn’t a success, and less people complained about its passing than did about their beloved Newton. Apple didn’t re-enter the consumer electronics market until the iPod in 2001.
Nowadays Apple produces millions of cameras, built-in to its iPhones and iPads.
Apple demoed a multimedia plugin for the Mac at its 1991 Worldwide Developers Conference. The lead engineer was called Bruce Leak, who later went on to found WebTV. It was shown publicly by Apple CEO John Sculley during the 1992 Macworld Expo in San Francisco.
The first video played was Apple’s iconic ‘1984’ advert, and there were various others including, I recall, an Apollo rocket launching. Such things reduced the Mac user audience into gibbering wrecks of excitement.
The first commercial product produced using QuickTime was a CD-ROM called From Alice To Ocean – a multimedia journey across Australia that the San Francisco Chronicle predicted would “change the course of publishing forever”. It didn’t.
Apple contracted software developer San Francisco Canyon to port QuickTime to Windows. Later Intel used the same company to enhance the performance of Microsoft’s Video for Windows.
Apple then claimed that thousands of lines of code in the new Video for Windows were stolen from QuickTime, and all hell broke loose. Apple threated Microsoft with a multi-billion dollar lawsuit, so Bill Gates threatened to cancel its Office for Mac software.
The lawsuit was dropped when the returning Steve Jobs did a deal with Gates that dropped all existing legal battles and made Internet Explorer the default Mac browser. In return Microsoft promised to be nice to Apple.
Unlike the legion of Windows PCs only Apple makes Mac desktops and laptops, iPhones, iPads and iPods. However there was a time when Apple briefly allowed other companies to make PCs that could run a Mac operating system. The Mac clone era lasted from 1995 to 1997 – another victim of the vengeful Steve.
Before the first official Mac clone there were plenty of unofficial attempts to create a non-Apple Mac, but the first really successful one was from a tiny Swiss company called Quix in 1995.
Two years earlier Quix has obtained a licence from Apple allowing it to sell a version of Mac OS (Daydream) for computers from NeXT, so it had high hopes that Apple would embrace its plucky project.
Quix invented a way to adapt the Mac OS for use on IBM, Motorola, Firepower and Canon PCs using the PowerPC Reference Platform design, known as PReP. Even though IBM still hadn’t adapted its own OS/2 operating system for use on PReP PC Quix succeeded in porting System 7 of the Mac OS to the platform.
But Apple was even quicker than Quix is making Quix quit.
“We have examined the project and decided not to pursue it,” said a company spokeswoman.
But there were dissenting voices within Apple who saw benefits to the Quix solution.
“Quix has been doing a great job of getting System 7 to run on a PReP box,” Apple engineer Jay Hamlin wrote in a message to a bulletin board run by Apple for developers.
“There are quite a few people here (me included) that want Quix to be granted a licence and are upset that it didn’t happen a long time ago.”
Allowing IBM to produce Mac clones seemed a good idea to many. Charles Piller, a senior editor of Macworld, described an IBM Mac as “a marriage made in heaven”.
Macworld’s editor-in-chief Adrian Mello raged: “Apple’s reluctance to embrace Quix doesn’t make sense, except as an example of Apple’s failure to commit to a serious Mac operating system licensing effort.”
Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Apple.
There was once a day when computer displays were sexy – in a geeky way, of course. I’m not talking about the lovely Cinema Display monitors from Apple. Of course, they were sexy for their see-through design and cool lines. But there used to be displays that would make your tongue hang out simply by the nature of their functionally.
And mainly those monitors were made by a company called Radius. We shouldn’t be surprised that this company’s products were cool, as it was set up by a breakaway bunch of brilliant engineers from Apple’s original Macintosh team, including Burrell Smith (Mac motherboard maven), Andy Hertzfeld (self-proclaimed “Software Wizard”), Mike Boich (the first Apple evangelist), Matt Carter (digital type guru, and designer of Verdana), Alain Rossmann (the brains behind WAP).
Even the staff would hadn’t worked at Apple went on to greater things. Ed Colligan, Radius VP of strategic and product marketing, went on to become President and CEO of Palm.
These Apple legends founded Radius in 1986, a year after the ousting of their old boss Steve Jobs. Its first product was a game changer: the Radius Full Page Display, which was the first large screen for a PC and pioneer of multiple-screen computing.
Its next monitor was the Radius Pivot – still, I believe the world’s sexiest computer display. Believe me, if you were using a Mac in the late 1980s you wanted a Radius Pivot. The full-page Pivot could be rotated 90° between landscape and portrait modes, with real-time remapping of icons, menu, and screen drawing. This stuff still looks cool on an iPad. Twenty years ago it made grown DTPers and designers faint with envy.
It was designed by Terry Oyama, who was the guy that helped designed the original Mac case. How hot is that?
Radius also made the first processor and graphics accelerator cards for the Mac (including the must-have Radius Rocket), television tuners, video-capture cards, and high-end video adaptors.
As if that wasn’t enough Radius was the first of the official Mac cloners in 1995, selling the Radius System 100 and 81/110. Clearly the person in charge of fancy names had since left the company. In turn it licensed its SuperMac name to Umax for its line of Mac clones.
Apple’s attempts to design its own next-generation operating system in the late 1980s was doomed, with the company ending up buying back Steve Jobs to finish the job for them. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Raptor was the best named of the attempts, and was a bid to create an all-new microkernel that would run on any platform. It was part of Apple’s Red project that promised the earth but merely fell over having delivered nothing of note. Staff left, budgets were cut. Raptor was wrapped.
Steve Jobs said that Apple “always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts”. And one of the pioneers of the Macintosh fulfilled that brief to a T-junction. From 1970 to 1974 Jeff Raskin taught art, photography and computer science at the University of California before writing the Apple II BASIC Programming Manual and joining Apple (Employee #31) as Manager of Publications in January 1978.
Raskin described the Jobs/Wozniakv partnership as “a strange mix of the radical and the conservative”.
“They wanted to create personal computers, but expected them to work much like the hard-to-use minicomputers from DEC, HP and Data General.”
“Dragging the two Steves into the interface future was like preaching in an unknown tongue.”
It was Raskin who lobbied hard for Apple to create a true consumer PC – based on a paper he wrote called ‘Computers By The Millions’.
He felt even the Apple II (early nickname: Simplicity) was too complex, and he was put in charge of the Macintosh project in 1979. It was Raskin who introduced Jobs to Xerox PARC’s graphical user interface concept. He decided on Apple’s one-button mouse rule. He is rightly known as the Father of the Mac.
But at first Jobs called the project “the dumbest idea” he’d ever heard of. But after he was pushed off the Lisa project Jobs ingratiated himself into the Mac team, and roughly eased Raskin out. Then Steve said that the Mac “would make a dent in the universe”.
Raskin was livid and wrote a memo slagging off Jobs as a manager. Steve saw a copy of the memo and Jeff was as good as finished at the company. After a leave of absence he quit in 1982.
It’s safe to say that Raskin was never a big Steve Jobs fan: “Most people worked around him or sucked up to him or were in awe of him. In fact, he was no genius; he resembled a planet shining by reflecting the light of others. Yet he thought of himself as the Sun King. He could not abide someone who was unimpressed by Steve Jobs”.
Like Steve Jobs Jeff Raskin could be insufferably arrogant and ideologically narrow-minded but recognised talent when he saw it. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2005. Steve died of the same thing six years later.
Reality Distortion Field
Raskin’s description of Jobs is a neat explanation of what became known as Steve’s ‘Reality Distortion Field’ – a term coined in 1981 by Bud Tribble, who is still Apple’s Vice President of Software Technology. Appropriately for someone with such a surname Tribble picked the phrase from an episode of Star Trek.
“In his presence, reality is malleable,” Tribble once explained to Andy Hertzfeld. “He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules.”
Hertzfeld agreed with Tribble: “The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, an indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand. If one line of argument failed to persuade, he would deftly switch to another. Sometimes, he would throw you off balance by suddenly adopting your position as his own, without acknowledging that he ever thought differently.”
“We would often discuss potential techniques for grounding it, but after a while most of us gave up, accepting it as a force of nature.”
Larry Tesler, one-time Apple Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group and Chief Scientist, described Jobs’ management skills: “Nobody’s talked about [Jobs’] management ability or lack thereof… In the early days he got things done w/charisma and stares.”
The Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs claims that Steve learnt to create the reality distortion field from his college buddy and cultist mentor Robert Friedland.
After the failure of its home-baked Copland next-generation operating system project Apple bought OpenStep from Steve Jobs’ NeXT. The idea was to port that OS to PowerPC so that it would run on Apple’s existing Macs, bolt on technologies such as QuickTime, and refine the user interface to make it more Mac like. The result was to be code-named Rhapsody, continuing Apple’s music-related naming structure: Mac OS 7.6 was code-named Harmony, OS 8 was Tempo, 8.5 was Allegro, and OS 9 was Sonata; Copland itself had been named after the American composer, and another failed OS had been dubbed Gershwin (who wrote Rhapsody in Blue).
You can see why Apple stuck with the names of big cats thereafter.
Rhapsody was first demonstrated at the 1997 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. It first saw real action as Mac OS X Server 1.0 in 1999.
Before the iPhone was the Rokr, a 2005 mobile phone made by Motorola that wasn’t smart but could play music downloaded from iTunes – although it was restricted to carrying a mere 100 songs. It didn’t look like something Steve Jobs would have allowed in his street let alone his trouser pocket but he still managed to hold it up during its product launch without throwing up.
Under Steve Jobs Apple maintained a level of secrecy unknown since the times of the Pharaohs. This, of course, led to widespread rumour fever surrounding every aspect of the company’s product range. Apple loved the secrecy but, publicly at least, hated the rumours – especially when they were true. Apple would fire loose-tongued employees and sue media companies that dared reveal the truth. But it was also silly enough to leave prototypes of new iPhones in bars and restaurants, where they were invariably sold to unscrupulous Apple rumour sites, which otherwise had to make do with the badly drawn or poorly Photoshopped imaginings of over-excited fan boys.
When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 he brokered a deal with Microsoft’s Bill Gates that kept the ailing company afloat. In return for a cash injection and guarantee to continue development of Office for Mac Apple agreed to set Internet Explorer as the default web browser on all Macs. This didn’t go down well with the Microsoft-hating Mac faithful, but Netscape Navigator remained as an option.
In 2003, with the deal expired, Apple released its own browser called Safari. Surfin’ Safari. Surfing the web. Geddit?
As of 2015 Safari accounted for just 13 percent of desktop web traffic, behind Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
However, as the browser on Apple’s iPhone it accounts for nearly a qurter of all mobile traffic.
Superstar astronomer Carl Sagan was annoyed when he learned that the Power Mac 7100/66 was code-named “Carl Sagan”. His TV catchphrase was “billions and billions”, and Apple engineers joked that the new Power PCs would make the company lots of money. Sagan wrote to Apple demanding it change the code name: “My endorsement is not for sale. For this reason I was profoundly depressed to see Apple’s announcement of a new Mac bearing my name.”
The Apple project engineers changed the name to BHA, standing for “Butt-Head Astronomer”. In April 1994 Sagan sued Apple for defamation of character, but lost – although there was a settlement a year later on appeal.
Who was the first CEO of Apple Computer? Steve Jobs? Woz? Mike Markkula? John Sculley?
None of these Apple legends, actually. The first CEO of Apple was Michael Scott – known as Scotty. Scotty was CEO of Apple from February 1977 to March 1981.
Investor Markkula thought the two Steves were too young and experienced for the top job, so hired the director of manufacturing at National Semiconductor. Years later another Apple CEO, Gil Amelio, would be hired from the same company – to be ousted in the end by the returning Steve Jobs.
Woz was happy for a more experienced CEO. Jobs much less so: “I was only 22, and I knew I wasn’t ready to run a real company. But Apple was my baby, and I didn’t want to give it up.”
But he did, in the end, give in to Markkula and Woz. And Scott’s job was to manage Jobs, and make him bathe more often.
On February 25, 1981, a day known at Apple as “Black Wednesday” Scott personally fired 40 employees, including half of the Apple II team that he declared complacent. He claimed the company was growing too fast.
That afternoon he assembled the remaining employees with a keg of beer and explained the shock sackings: “I used to say that when being CEO at Apple wasn’t fun anymore, I’d quit. But now I’ve changed my mind — when it isn’t fun any more, I’ll fire people until it’s fun again.”
His health took a turn for the worse, and he was afflicted with eye infections and narcolepsy.
Scotty hadn’t got permission from the board of directors for this mass cull, and almost immediately he himself was dumped down to vice chairman, with Markkula replacing him as CEO.
(The hapless manager in the US version of The Office is named Michael Scott, whether this in reverence of Scotty’s tenure at Apple is unknown.)
He quit on July 17, 1981, to start up a company to create a sea-based satellite-launching rocket. He is now an expert on coloured gemstones.
Pronounced “Scuzzy” – its inventor tried desperately to persuade people that it could be pronounced “Sexy” – the Small Computer System Interface (starting at 40Mbps) was much faster than ADB, and so was better suited to peripherals such as hard disks and scanners. It came in various forms and speeds – Fast SCSI was bettered by Fast Wide SCSI, then Ultra SCSI, and, you guessed it, Ultra Wide SCSI. Frustrating cable choices and adaptors had entered our lives.
John Sculley was president of Pepsi (and marketing brains behind the Pepsi Challenge) when Steve Jobs lured him to Apple with the classic one-liner: ”Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?”
Jobs visited Sculley’s house and was fascinated with his doors’ special hinges and locks. The pair bonded over their love of perfect design.
As well as helping to shift the computer from geeky garages and stuffy offices into the home Sculley was meant to lend Apple an air of traditional big business credibility, which Apple president Mike Markkula knew the company wouldn’t get with Steve Jobs at the helm.
It ended up without Steve at the helm or even still at Apple, when Sculley and Jobs clashed over the co-founder’s management style. Jobs tried to oust his former buddy in a coup but Sculley discovered the plot (Jobs made the mistake of telling blabber-mouth Jean-Louis Gassée, the man tipped to succeed him as the head of the Macintosh group) and stripped him of most of his day-to-day responsibilities. Jobs quit soon after.
But Sculley quickly went native, dreaming of way-out tech gadgets such as the Knowledge Navigator.
Sculley now says that it was a mistake to have hired him as CEO as Steve always wanted to be CEO himself.
“It would have been much more honest if the board had said, ‘Let’s figure out a way for him to be CEO. You could focus on the stuff that you bring and he focuses on the stuff he brings.’
“Remember, he was the chairman of the board, the largest shareholder and he ran the Macintosh division, so he was above me and below me. It was a little bit of a façade and my guess is that we never would have had the breakup if the board had done a better job of thinking through not just how do we get a CEO to come and join the company that Steve will approve of, but how do we make sure that we create a situation where this thing is going to be successful over time?”
Sculley’s obsession with the Newton (he coined the phrase Personal Digital Assistant, PDA; and invented the iPad, sort of, with is Knowledge Navigator) didn’t play well with the Apple board, which wanted the company to be more focused on the business market. He was replaced by the company’s chief operating officer Michael Spindler in 1993.
Lee Clow might have been the main man at Apple’s advertising agency ChiatDay but hats off to Ken Segall, who worked with Steve Jobs both at NeXT and at Apple on Steve’s return in 1997; he also worked for Apple under John Sculley.
Segall was the man who talked Jobs out of calling the iMac “MacMan” and worked closely with him on the Think Different camapign.
He is the wit behind spoof Apple rumour site Scoopertino, and the author of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success – a cracking collection of Steve Jobs stories and a business book that gets right inside what makes Apple tick.
Apple tried to get all smarty pants with its Mac search with the launch of Sherlock with Mac OS 8.5 in 1997. Later Karelia Software, the creators of complementary software called Watson (Geddit?), claimed Apple copied its product with 2002’s Sherlock 3. You didn’t need to be a great detective to see the similarities. Microsoft is probably still working away furiously developing Mrs Hudson…
Steve Jobs liked to think of Apple engineers as artists. In 1982 he took the original Mac team on a field trip to the Louis Comfort Tiffany museum, because, Andy Herztfeld remembers, “Tiffany was an artist who learned how to mass produce his work”.
And as artists the Mac team got to sign their creation – although on the inside of the Mac casing, which you needed a special tool to open up.
The signing party was held on February 10, 1982, with champagne and cake. Each time the case was revised a few names were left off until by the time of the Mac Classic no signatures were left inside.
Jobs’ attitude to the cult of the artist engineer changed, and now every Apple device simply states “Designed by Apple in California”.
The iPhone 4S’s Siri was created by Dag Kittlaus, a 34-year-old man from Norway. In Norwegian Siri means “beautiful victorious counsellor,” but it is believed that Kittlaus named his application after Siri Kalvig, a famous Norwegian meteorologist and businesswoman, who he worked with at a telecommunications company in Norway.
In 1987 then Apple CEO John Sculley set out his vision for a device called the Knowledge Navigator. This included a butler-type software agent who answers questions and performs software tasks when spoken to. Apple showed off what this might look like in a 1987 video set in far-off September 2011 – spookily just one month before Siri did just that.
From 1984 to 1990 Apple products had to conform to a design language known as Snow White – it was originated to work with seven products with dwarf code names. See ‘Bashful’ pictured above – Apple’s prototype iPad from 1983, before even the Mac was released!
Developed by Frog Design’s Hartmut Esslinger it encompassed colour, line, texture, badging, corners and ports. Its first colour was a creamy white known as ‘Fog’. This changed to a warm grey ‘Platinum’ from 1987 on.
The iPod Sock was a briefly funny merchandising gag that ceased to be amusing a long time ago but lived on in what must have been one of Apple’s longest-ever product lines.
The company that Steve Jobs most admired was Japanese electronics giant Sony. Like Jobs, Sony co-founder Akio Morita upheld high-end standards and respect for beautiful products. Morita gave Steve one of the first Sony Walkmans – a favour he returned 15 years later by creating the iPod that buried the former portable audio device.
Former Apple CEO John Sculley remembered: “Steve didn’t want to be IBM. He didn’t want to be Microsoft. He wanted to be Sony.”
“It was very nearly fetishistic, in fact. He even had a collection of Sony letterhead and marketing materials. Sony was a company that Jobs instinctively admired and saw as model from the very beginning. So it’s been an interesting transformation over time, to see Apple supplant Sony as the centre of the consumer technology universe.”
Jobs was fascinated by the spotless Sony factories and how they were staffed by employees wearing different coloured uniforms. Staff at Apple Stores now wear differently coloured shirts to distinguish between different roles.
Post Jobs Mk 1 and pre Jobs Mk 2 Apple had to go begging to Sony to develop a proper Mac laptop that didn’t weigh a ton like the Mac Portable. The Sony-designed PowerBook 100 defined the modern laptop.
For two supposedly peace-loving, hippy outfits Apple Computer and Apple Corps (the wacky but litigious business arm of The Beatles) must hold a record (boom boom!) for clashing in court – although Apple Inc. is now trying to top this by suing Samsung at any given opportunity.
The two Apples had agreed that Apple Computer wasn’t allowed to use its trademark on “creative works whose principal content is music”. Apple Corps got the hump when it decided a system alert sound (a very brief blast of xylophone) was musical in nature. Apple’s alert-sound creator Jim Reekes joked that it should be called ‘Let it Bleep’ but was put off this risky gag by Apple’s own lawyers. So it was named ‘Sosumi’ instead. Geddit?
Released with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Spaces allowed users to create multiple virtual desktops on their Mac. You could have a Home space and an Office space, for example. Users could quickly and easily switch between spaces, each running different applications. In what is now typical Apple style this simply named feature was replaced in OS X 10.7 Lion by something called Mission Control.
Michael Spindler – see Diesel.
Spinning beach ball of death
More colourful and mostly less dangerous than the old, dreaded black Bomb icon, more animated than the previous wristwatch, but nonetheless never fun.
Before OS X Mac users used to find things on their hard drives using something called Find. Such intuitive naming is below the amazingness that is OS X. All of its tools’ names must be puns so Apple’s software designers can sculpt beautiful icons.
Find was lost, but Spotlight was switched on. When I think of spotlights it’s not the stage that springs to mind but WW2 prison camps, daring escapes and evil Nazis. And why is Spotlight’s icon a magnifying glass? Why not call it Detective or insect collector? Or how about Sherlock. That’s witty and smart, and, oh…
Launched with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Stacks is a feature that, guess what, stacks files into an organised folder in the Dock. Its OS X show-off points are gained from its Fan, Grid and List views.
It was Steve Jobs who threw a wobbly at processor partners Motorola and IBM over the slow progress of the PowerPC platform and jumped ship to Intel in 2005. But Apple had been trying to do exactly that for years. In 1992 Apple worked with Novell on a project code-named Star Trek to port the Mac OS to Intel chips. Within a year the engineers had succeeded in running the Mac OS on a standard PC but the project was scrapped when CEO John Sculley was replaced by Michael “The Diesel” Spindler a few months later.
Spooky facts: Chief Engineer Scotty (no relation to Scotty, the first CEO of Apple; see above) used a Mac Plus in the movie Star Trek 4. He used it to explain the formulation of transparent aluminum, and tried to use voice commands to control the computer.
Sun Microsystems, now part of Oracle, was a Silicon Valley computer company that was founded on Steve Jobs’ 27th birthday in 1982. It was principally known for its servers, workstations, SPARC processors, Java and Solaris operating system. You know, boring stuff. Shocking to imagine now but Sun tried to buy or at least merge with Apple in 1995 and 1996. Sun’s chief technologist Eric Schmidt later became CEO of Google and served on Apple’s Board of Directors.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 the company was in big trouble, with its miniscule market share rapidly going down the sink, and its bank balance leaking away with it.
One of the ways that Apple got back on track was with its brilliant marketing campaigns. The Switch campaign featured real people who told the world why they dumped PCs running Microsoft Windows for the Mac.
Some of these real people were real celebrities (skateboarder Tony Hawk, comic actor Will Ferrell, De La Soul) while others became famous for being in the ads: slouch forward stoner Ellen Feiss.
The unsurprisingly named successor to System 6, 1991’s System 7 was a real shot in the arm for the Mac operating system. It featured fancy functions such as default co-operative multitasking, virtual memory, personal file sharing, aliases, drag-&-drop, system extensions, Fonts Folder, and Balloon Help.
It was the first version of the Mac OS that required a hard drive, as it was too large to work on just a floppy disk, and was the first to come on a CD. System 7.0 was the last Mac OS version that Apple gave away for free.
It lost the System name when Apple released Mac OS 7.6 in January 1997, its last major release before Mac OS 8.
Prior to Mac OS X everything the operating system needed was stored in the god-like System Folder. It was neat, straightforward and made complete sense, including things like Apple Menu Items, Extensions, Control Panels, Fonts and the Clipboard. With Mac OS X these and other handy tools and folders were spread all over the place in numerous Library folders and other random places, when not hidden out of view altogether. That’s progress.
Apple is usually very particular about its colours, favouring a strict monochromatic policy ruled with an iron – or possibly brushed aluminum – fist. From 1984 to 1990 just about every Apple product (except for its lurid logo) had to conform to the Snow White design Language, which pinpointed exactly the correct tone of white or near beige the casing should be in. This was all down to Steve Jobs’ severe notion of perfect aesthetic beauty.
So it was more than a small surprise when on his return he launched a series of semi-translucent, vibrantly coloured computers that shocked the tech world, and went on to revolutionise all sorts of consumer gadgetry.
First up was the Bondi Blue iMac – actually quite subdued (and not really that nice a blue) compared to what would follow: blueberry, strawberry, tangerine, grape, key lime, graphite, ruby, sage, snow, and indigo. The colour adventure ended with a sickening splash: patterned Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power.
After these way-out tints Apple retreated to solid white and black, apart from some sporadic colour bursts in the iPod lines.
Tangerine was apparently the least successful of the colours, but was used on not only the iMac G3 but also the first iBook laptop.
(The design company cofounded by Apple wiz Jony Ive before he worked for the Mac maker was called Tangerine. Coincidence? Yes.)
Paul Terrell was the founder and owner of the Byte Shop, one of the earliest PC retailers and the first to sell any Apple product when it ordered 50 units of the fledgling company’s Apple I. Without that initial order from a trusting Terrell Apple might not have got off the ground in the first place.
Lawrence G (Larry) Tesler worked at Xerox PARC (where he invented the modeless text-editing engine for Smalltalk, as well as pioneering computer-based Cut & Paste) from 1973 to 1980. He was one of the demonstrators at Apple’s famous Xerox PARC visit in December 1979 when Steve Jobs and his team came to gawp at the graphical user interface they were working on. He soon quit Xerox to work at Apple (on July 17, 1980) as the manager of the Lisa Applications team. His work on the Lisa team led to many contributions to the final Macintosh user interface.
At Apple Larry was, at various times, Vice President of AppleNet, VP of the Advanced Technology Group, and Chief Scientist. In 1990 he was in charge of Newton development as VP of the Advanced Development Group, and then as VP of the Personal Interactive Electronics division.
He left Apple in 1997, later working at Amazon and Yahoo.
When Steve Jobs sold his NeXT Computer company to Apple in 1996 he brought with him its software boffin Avadis (“Avie”) Tevanian as the company’s new Senior Vice President of Software Engineering. Avie’s job was to turn the NeXT OS into Mac OS X, and he was one of Jobs’ most-trusted lieutenants as well as a close personal friend. Tevanian left Apple on March 31, 2006, and in January 2010 he became MD of private equity firm Elevation Partners – co-founded by former Apple CFO Fred Anderson.
Apple really doesn’t like other people mucking around with the look-and-feel of its products. It would rather scratch its own eyes out than see an inferior being getting anywhere close to its sacred user experience. It puts up with the thousands of cases that are available to cover its iPods, iPhones and iPads – although Jonathan Ive must weep at everyone’s insatiable demand to disguise his perfect designs.
Apple does, however, have more control when it comes to keeping its software pure and untouched by non-Apple hands. But that wasn’t always the case.
This started in some software called Aaron that mimicked the forthcoming OS 8 Platinum appearance in System 7.5. It was so popular that the developer Greg Landweber later released Kaleidoscope that could switch new looks for Mac OS 8 on the fly.
If you think changing your Mac’s appearance is a good idea just look at the sort of thing Kaleidoscope users’ screens looked like.
Could you imagine Steve Jobs being able to sleep at night knowing there was a Mac out there looking like this?
But Apple got close to embracing these Appearance themes with its own Themes: Hi-Tech and Gizmo. They were just as horrible as the ones on Kaleidoscope.
Gizmo might have reminded Steve of a bad trip on LSD. Scarier than a demented clown wiggly Gizmo was straight from the lunatic asylum of UI design.
Hi-Tech was darker but less bizarre, although still disturbing enough in its grim brutality.
There was also another called Drawing Board, limited to a Japanese release, and not quite as nasty.
Then Steve saw them, vomited, screamed a lot, burned the creators with a flame-thrower, and cut the devilish themes from Mac OS 8.5 before they had the chance to ruin the beauty of Apple’s Mac OS.
On his return to Apple in 1997 Steve Jobs knew the first thing the company had to do was prove it was still “alive” and that it still stood for “something special”. He called up his old advertising pal Lee Clow, who came up with the idea of the ‘Think Different’ campaign – a concept so pure that it made Jobs weep.
It would make you weep, too, to know that the original idea was to have the ads blasting out the song ‘Crazy’ by Seal. Thankfully they couldn’t get the rights to use the song.
Jobs first introduced the ‘Think Different’ phrase at the August Macworld Expo in Boston.
Grammarians argued that it should be ‘Think Differently” but Jobs stuck to his guns: “It’s not think the same, it’s think different. Think a little different, think a lot different, think different. ‘Think differently’ wouldn’t hit the meaning for me.”
Robin Williams was the first choice for the ‘Crazy Ones’ ad narration but he wouldn’t do ad voiceovers, and Jobs couldn’t get Bill Clinton to persuade Tom Hanks – so they ended up with Jaws actor Richard Dreyfus, although it was trialled with Steve’s own voice as well.
Think Secret was an Apple rumours website (1999-2007) that pissed the royal hell out of Steve Jobs and his band of confidantes. This pesky website (run by editor Nick dePlume, himself clearly not averse to secrecy) kept getting great product info from Apple insiders, so the Cupertino secret police used to feed false stories to staff to winkle out the tell-tales. But still the leaks kept dripping out.
In 2004 the site’s exposé of the forthcoming Mac mini and iWork apps was a step too far for Jobs and co who applied the legal squeeze to Think Secret. It fought as long as it could but was forced to close in 2008.
DePlume turned out to be Harvard undergraduate Nicholas Ciarelli, who started Think Secret when he was just 13. Kids, huh?
Apple’s latest connector interface Thunderbolt – co-developed with Intel – replaced FireWire, and had a pretty cool code name, too: Light Peak.
It was first released on the MacBook Pro on Steve Jobs’ last birthday alive: February 24, 2011.
Apple was so ahead of the game, though, that for its first year there was very few peripherals that used Thunderbolt – leading to more the need for expensive adaptors downgrading new techs to work with our existing peripherals.
Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger was the longest running version of the Mac OS X big cats. It was also the last to work with OS 9 applications in Classic emulation mode. Tiger saw the first version of search tool Spotlight (abysmal) and Dashboard widgets (cool).
Dr Guy (Bud) Tribble, who is still Apple’s Vice President of Software Technology, was the manager of the original Macintosh software development team. With Steve Jobs he was the cofounder of NeXT, where he was vice president of Software Engineering and a key architect of the NeXTStep operating system that later was the basis of Mac OS X.
Tribble came up with the idea for the Mac’s “Hello” screen that instantly gave the new computer a friendly personality. He also wrote the initial code to drive the Mac’s mouse. He dreamed up the idea for “desk ornaments”, little apps that mimicked things you’d find on a real desktop, such as the calculator and notepad. He even named The Finder.
As if these feats weren’t awesome enough Bud coined the legendary phrase “Reality Distortion Field” to describe Steve Jobs’ charismatic anti-reality energy force: “In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything.”
Apple buddied up with Microsoft at the end of the 1980s to blow apart Adobe’s expensive proprietary PostScript Type 1 font business. When Apple and Microsoft announced their collaboration on stage at the 1989 Seybold conference a tearful Adobe founder John Warnock stormed ““That’s the biggest bunch of garbage and mumbo jumbo. What those people are selling you is snake oil!”
Adobe was forced to open up its format, and introduced the legendary Adobe Type Manager to better scale Type 1 fonts for anti-aliased on-screen output.
Nothing to do with Apple really but once an outside bet to play Steve Jobs in the upcoming bio-pic. Fool!
Apple has always had a soft spot for music (see also Unuson below). Its founders were brought up in Sixties California, raised on Beach Boys, Beatles and Bob Dylan. But the company got stuck on its reverence for these golden oldies, missing out on the charms of Abba, the Bee Gees and Spandau Ballet… until Steve Jobs did get a taste of the Irish with a dalliance with U2.
In 2004 U2 wanted to push its new LP How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and realised the hottest place for airplays was no longer the radio but on the iconic TV ads for Apple’s iPod. Bono visited Steve Jobs and suggested that the company break from its silhouettes of dancers to include the same of the artists themselves.
Previously the band had turned down offers as high as £23 million to appear on ads (thinking them too “naff”), but a deal with Apple was worth that in promotion alone.
When the band got cold feet Apple promised to release a special limited-edition U2 iPod. Bono was sceptical so the company suggested flying its design guru Jony Ive to Dublin to show them what it would look like.
“I love that guy. I drink his bathwater!” gasped Bono. The deal was sealed by Bono and Ive in a legendary Dublin pub crawl.
Bono was a big Steve Jobs fan, calling him the “hardware software Elvis”: Apple is “a bunch of creative minds, more creative than a lot of people in rock bands. The lead singer is Steve Jobs. These men helped design the most beautiful object in music culture since the electric guitar. That’s the iPod. The job of art is to chase ugliness away.”
After Jobs’ death Bono waxed lyrical again. Jobs was someone who was “only interested in doing truly great things”.
“In a world littered with dull objects, he brought the beauty of clean lines and clear thought. Jobs changed music, he changed film, he changed the personal computer and turned telephony on its head while he was at it.
Undoubtedly the best named of the Mac cloners Umax was the only company other than Apple itself permitted to make and sell a computer that could run Mac OS 8 – although not for long. Its Macintosh clones were called Pulsar, Centauri, Apus and Aegis. Outside of Europe Umax branded its clones under the SuperMac name. That was sure to wind Apple and Steve Jobs up even more.
Unix is an open-standard, multitasking operating system that can be found in multiple variations – most popularly as the basis of Linux.
Apple has claimed that the most widely used Unix-based operating system is Mac OS X, as it is based on NeXT’s OS, which was built on BSD Unix and the Mach (no relation) kernel – which was developed in large part by Avie Tevanian who later became Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering.
Unix geeks will admit only that OS X is “Unix like”. Apple did make its own version of true Unix, called A/UX, which first saw life in 1988 but was killed off after 1995 when Apple decided not to port it to its new PowerPC-based systems.
Unuson stands for “Unite Us in Song” and was the name of the company formed by Apple founder Steve Wozniak to put on giant music festivals. The first Unuson US Festival was held in San Bernadino County California September 3, 4 and 5, 1982. Bands playing to the 200,000 crowd included Tom Petty, The Police and Fleetwood Mac – then the most famous Mac in the world. Apple was there, too – showing off its gear at the US Festival Technology Exposition.
Woz apparently lost $12 million putting on the show, and lost the same again with the second US Festival the next May – this event featuring The Clash, Van Halen and David Bowie. The 1983 festival was a disaster, with two deaths and 145 people ending up in jail. Woz declared the concerts a great success: “The fans got their money’s worth. I know I got mine.”
The Universal Serial Bus standard (v1.0 speed 12Mbps) was created by a group of Apple enemies including Intel, IBM and Microsoft. As such it was pitted against Apple’s faster FireWire computer/peripheral connection (400Mbps). USB vs FireWire became one of the running arguments between Mac and PC fans. But it was Apple that first showed any real faith in USB, using it as the main connection standard on the startlingly original iMac in 1998 – much to the anger of some Apple fan boy Intel haters. USB 2.0 (480Mbps) was much closer in speed to FireWire, and FireWire 800 remains a niche connector. Apple featured all three on some Mac systems. Now the company has started using USB-C slots, and not many of them.
Before there was an Apple Store Mac fans had few places they could gather to show off their hilarious t-shirts and make snide jokes about Windows PCs. There were mega shows such as Macworld Expo over in the US and a few other annual events dotted across the globe, but nowhere permanent even in the busiest cities.
So the Apple fanboys and girls started their own clubs, called Apple or Mac User Groups. Remarkably Apple hasn’t closed them all down for copyright infringement, and even points out where these groups meet up.
If you wanted to find an Apple Genius in those days you had to attend one of the monthly user group meetings or their Christmas pub quiz.
As you might expect of a group made up of people who are rather too keen on one manufacturer’s products there’s a higher than normal proportion of beardy weirdies and social outcasts among the disciples. Apple always had a sheen of hipness and cool but you’d never have guessed it attending one of these gatherings.
That said, imagine walking in to a pub and finding yourself in the middle of a Windows User Group…
The battle between Macintosh and Windows is mainly one of competing user interfaces. With the Lisa (1983) and Macintosh (1984) Apple pioneered the Graphical User Interface (GUI) while PCs were stuck with either dull old DOS or a grubby GUI until at least 1992’s just-about-acceptable Windows 3.1. The Windows UI has always been less friendly and elegant than the Mac, proving that most people are a bit crap, really.
Don Valentine is known as the “grandfather of Silicon Valley venture capital” – not exactly as sexy a title as “The Godfather” but obviously prestigious in terms of the technology business.
The Computer History Museum credits him for his part in playing “a key role in the formation of a number of industries such as semiconductors, PCs, software, digital entertainment and networking.”
Valentine was one of the original investors in Apple – as well as Atari, Oracle, EA, Google and YouTube. He was known as the Golden Gut.
A long-standing Silicon Valley myth was that “when you go in to see Don Valentine you come out either a tycoon or with a new asshole – and either way the experience is not pleasant”.
In his book Infinite Loop Michael Malone describes the opposite natures of Jobs and Valentine: “Hard as nails, a master business strategist, wary of cleverness, dressed like a banker, it’s hard to imagine anyone less suited to deal with a trickster like Steve Jobs.”
Valentine and Jobs met in the autumn of 1976, at the Jobs family garage where Apple started out. Valentine was appalled at the pair of Jobs and Wozniak, calling them “renegades from the human race”.
He demanded they get an experienced marketing person before he’d even think about investing. Jobs asked him for some names, and Valentine came back with Intel millionaire Mike Markkula who invested $250,00 of his own money, became employee #3, and went on to work at the company at board level until Jobs returned in 1997.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was a notorious prankster, and one of his victims was none other than Pope Paul VI.
One of Woz’s earliest gizmos was the Blue Box – a gadget that allowed users to place free phone calls by emulating the tones used by a telephone operator’s dialling console. This allowed the user to make long-distance calls for nothing.
Nowadays Skype and Apple’s FaceTime let us make free calls over huge distances, but legally. The Blue Box was in no way legal, and didn’t run Angry Birds.
Jobs and Woz didn’t invent the Blue Box but in 1971 built the first units that went on sale. Woz built an analogue tone generator. Jobs made a frequency counter. Jobs’ counter didn’t work well enough so Woz created the world’s first digital version from scratch. Woz still calls this invention the best-designed circuit he ever produced.
Woz pretended to be Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and asked to be put through to the pope, mimicking the Kissinger’s German accent: “Ve are at the summit meeting in Moscow, and ve need to talk to de pope”.
The bearded practical joker didn’t get to speak to the pontiff, who was sleeping at the time. He did speak to a bishop, but the papacy fairly quickly cottoned on to the fact that this was a practical joke.
“We were at a public phone booth,” recalled Jobs.
Calling the pope hadn’t worked but the promise of free calls was a potentially huge (if illegal) business. The Woz Blue Box cost about $40 to produce, and Jobs would sell it for $150.
Business was brisk until a punter pulled a gun on the pair in a pizza joint’s car park, and the future Apple co-founders stopped selling the cheeky gizmos.
In his official biography Jobs says that if it hadn’t been for the Blue Box there would not have been an Apple Computer – no Mac, no iPhone, no iPad.
“Woz and I learned how to work together, and we gained the confidence that we could solve technical problems and actually put something into production.”
Woz agreed: “It was probably a bad idea selling them, but it gave us a taste of what we could do with my engineering skills and his vision.”
Why you’d want to take a perfectly nice Mac and make it run Microsoft Windows is one of the great mysteries of the universe, but it does go on behind closed doors and far away from other Apple fanboys.
Virtualization software allows crazy people to install versions of the Windows OS on their Apple computers. The two main virtualisation tools are Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion. Apple even has its own virtualisation tool built right into Mac OS X: Boot Camp.
Boot Camp requires the user to reboot in and out of Mac and Windows while Parallels and VMware let you run each OS in separate spaces without having to shut down.
To most Mac users this is virtual insanity, but it’s nice that a Mac can run both operating systems while a PC cannot.
Most of us consider the Windows PC to be the classic office machine: dull, running some hideous version of Windows, almost certainly beige, and with a grubby mouse and clunky keyboard. It’s perfect for spreadsheets and accounts software, but not too sparky at iMovie or GarageBand.
So it may surprise you to learn that the world’s first computer spreadsheet ran on an Apple computer.
Launched in 1979 VisiCalc was a spreadsheet for the Apple II, and is almost certainly responsible for making the personal computer a mainstream tool for business. It was personal computer software’s first killer app and propelled Apple into becoming the first serious PC business.
By the end of 1980 Apple estimated that VisiCalc had helped sell 25,000 Apple IIs – 20 percent of the company’s total unit sales.
Apple co-founder Woz was working on an Apple-branded spreadsheet program when he crashed his plane and nearly died. VisiCalc must have felt similarly injured when it made the move to inferior non-Apple PCs. It was discontinued in 1983, and so never made it on to the Mac. That honour went to Microsoft’s Excel, another Apple-first spreadsheet program. Boring? Bah!
Ronald Gerald Wayne is the pretty much unknown co-founder of Apple Computer, quite rightly over-shadowed by the two Steves: Jobs and Wozniak. Wayne worked with Steve Jobs at Atari, and was a pivotal figure in Apple’s incorporation.
He designed and drew Apple’s first logo (not the good one, the one showing Sir Isaac Newton under an apple tree), wrote the original Apple partnership agreement, and scripted the Apple I manual. His principal duties were for Mechanical Engineering and Documentation.
Jobs was impressed that Wayne had started his own company, selling slot machines, and wanted him on board to give Apple some “adult supervision”.
“Ron was an amazing guy. He started companies. I had never met anyone like that before,” he gushed.
20 years older than Jobs, and so with more to lose, Wayne got cold feet when he realised he was jointly responsible for any company debts. After just 11 days he quit Apple, selling his 10 percent stake in the company for $800. He later received a cheque for a further $1,500 for his agreement to forfeit any claims against Apple.
Had he stayed on, his 10 percent of Apple would have been worth many billions today.
“I made the best decision for me at the time,” he says now without throwing up or weeping openly.
“Both of them were real whirlwinds, and my stomach wasn’t ready for such a ride.”
When Apple bought Steve Jobs’ NeXT in 1996 it didn’t just get the NeXTStep operating system that went on to become Mac OS X. It also picked up NeXT’s WebObjects Java web application framework that forms the basis of its phenomenally successful online Apple Store and iTunes Store, as well as the less praised MobileMe services.
West Coast Computer Faire
This was one of the first technology expos, and its opening show in April 1977 featured the launch of the Apple II with the young Steves Wozniak and Jobs dressed up in sharp new suits. The olde-worldy spelling of “faire” is almost appropriate given the difference between 1977 tech and today’s gadgets. There were only three Apple II computers actually in existence but ever-the-showman Jobs piled empty boxes around the prominent $5,000 show booth to make it appear many more were available.
Whole Earth Catalog
The Whole Earth Catalog was a counter-culture publication that sold all sorts of things to hippies. Steve Jobs was a big fan (calling it “Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along”), and borrowed its ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish’ catchphrase for his commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005.
Apple has had some wonderfully named employees (take a bow Bud Tribble) but Randy Wigginton has one of the funniest names ever to grace an Apple business card. Wigginton was Apple employee #6, and was the creator of MacWrite and worked on the Apple II. He used to attend the Homebrew Computer Club, getting car rides with Steve Wozniak.
The other operating system that you can run on your Mac, Windows started life on November 20, 1985 as Microsoft’s copy of Apple’s Mac OS. Compared to the Mac OS Windows was horribly inferior. Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement but lost every time it went to court to prove that Bill Gates and co had simply stolen its technology.
It wasn’t until 1992’s Windows 3.1 that Microsoft’s graphical operating system got anywhere near the grace and functionality of the Mac OS. It was still a horror show in comparison to the Mac but that didn’t worry the millions of consumers and businesses that quickly made it the number one desktop OS.
Apple and Steve Jobs in particular never forgave Microsoft for taking the Mac’s Graphical User Interface crown, still making jibes against Windows when launching Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in 2005 with banners proclaiming “Redmond. Start your photocopiers”.
Microsoft remains the Apple aficionado’s arch-enemy because of its shameless copying of the Mac OS. But for a long time chipmaker Intel was also subject to Apple Fanboy fury for supplying the processors that ran the PCs that ran Windows. It was the eveil Wintel axis that all Mac maniacs would curse first thing every morning.
One of the most iconic covers of Wired magazine was its June 1997 Apple logo wrapped in barbed wire, with the coverline ‘Pray’ showcasing the story ‘101 Ways to Save Apple’ inside. Wired replaced the barbed wire with razor wire for its April 2008 cover on ‘How Apple Wins by breaking all the rules’.
Soon after the launch of the Macintosh in 1984 Steve Jobs purchased Jackling House in Woodside, California – where he lived for 10 years. Jobs wanted to demolish the house to build something more fitting with his rigorous aesthetics but was met by a local campaign that tied up his plans in court. At one stage Jobs was told he had to disassemble the house and rebuild it elsewhere, but in the end the whole building was torn down in February 2011 – eight months before Jobs died.
Edgar S. (“Ed”) Woolard served on Apple’s Board of Directors from 1996 to 2000, when he stepped down for “personal reasons”.
Woolard was recommended as an Apple board member by PR man Harold Burson to then Apple CEO Gil Amelio. In his book ‘On the firing line: My 500 days at Apple’ Amelio described “laid back” Woolard as “over six feet tall and slender” with a “very comforting ‘Southern gentleman’ manner and a boyish charm”. In his book, ‘Infinite Loop’, however, Michael S Malone called Woolard a “fire-breather”.
DuPont CEO Woolard certainly breathed fire in 1997 when he was instrumental in Amelio’s sacking, which allowed Steve Jobs to return to Apple’s top position. Tennis fanatic Woolard had earlier sounded out Jobs on Amelio, and persuaded him to return to the company if only as an “advisor”.
One of the first things Jobs did on his return was demand that all the Apple board members, except Woolard, resign.
“Woolard was one of the best board members I’ve ever see. He was a prince, one of the most supportive and wise people I’ve ever met,” said Jobs.
World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee wrote the very first web browser, called WorldWideWeb, on a computer made by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ NeXT.
If Steve Jobs is the cold, hard, mercilessly evil genius co-founder of Apple then Steve Wozniak is the warm, cuddly, kind genius co-founder.
Woz (even his nickname is rotundly cosy) is a major figure at the start of the Apple story but literally crashes out not long after.
Stephen Gary Wozniak was introduced to Jobs by fellow Homestead High School pupil Bill Fernandez. The two Steves briefly worked together at Hewlett-Packard, and Jobs roped Woz in to help him design the game Breakout at Atari.
Outside of HP they attended the Homebrew Computer Club, where they showed off Woz’s Apple I computer. The Apple I wasn’t a PC as we know them but it was a fully assembled circuit board. Users had to buy or build the case and add power supply, keyboard and display.
While Woz made the Apple I it was Jobs who proposed selling it. To finance the Apple I Jobs sold his VW van and Woz flogged his HP-65 calculator.
Together, with Ron Wayne, they founded Apple in April 1976, after Jobs had persuaded Wozniak to quit HP.
The company’s big success was Woz’s follow up computer, the rather obviously named Apple II, which went on sale on June 5, 1977.
This really was a personal computer, including neat plastic case, integrated keyboard and colour display. It was one of the most successful PCs ever made, selling six million units, and for years dominated the market.
While Jobs is accused of stiffing some early Apple employees when the company went public in December 1980 Woz sold some of his shares at a very low price to a bunch of mid-level Apple workers so they too could be rewarded. See, he really is a nice guy!
After the Apple II Woz kind of disappears from the Apple story. He was working on developing the Apple II while Jobs was working on him to join the Mac team. But then disaster struck in February 1981 when he crashed his plane taking off from the Santa Cruz Sky Park.
Woz was badly injured and lost all memory of the crash. He stopped showing up at Apple because he thought every day was a weekend.
He was a multi-millionaire after Apple floated but lost a bunch through divorce and funding two giant music festivals. He re-enrolled at Berkeley to complete his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.
In 1983 he did return to Apple, as a simple engineer but stopped on February 6, 1987. He remains an Apple employee but has worked on many personal projects, including designing a universal remote control and a wireless GPs system.
In 2009 he appeared on the US TV series Dancing with the Stars, until he was eliminated for a poor Argentine Tango.
Since 1983 Apple has hosted an annual Worldwide Developers Conference to showcase the latest innovations in Mac OS X and iOS, with 1,000 Apple engineers helping up to 5,000 developers keep up to date with the newest technologies.
From 1998 to 2007 each WWDC was kicked off with a keynote from CEO Steve Jobs.
It isn’t all serious tech talk, though. During 2002’s WWDC Apple held a mock funeral for Mac OS 9.
Sometimes those guys crack me up!
X (Mac OS)
Malcolm X. Terminator X. The X factor. X-Large. XX-Large. X marks the spot. “xxx Love you! xxx”. All of these are famous Xs. But our favourite X has to be Apple’s Mac OS X.
This ‘X’ is often mispronounced as ‘10’ like what the Romans used to do. To Mac fans this act of verbal heresy is akin to child murder.
Back in 1996 Apple had to go back cap (and $400m) in hand to the founder it had sacked a decade earlier to save itself from software putrescence.
It had to buy Steve Jobs’ otherwise not-very-good company NeXT for its NeXTStep software to use as the basis of the new-generation Mac OS with an all-new codebase and file system.
Mac OS X versions were all named after cats that don’t fit through a cat-flap (Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion), apart from year 2000’s Public Beta, which was code-named Kodiak; after the grizzly bear. Now they are named after places in California, which is interesting for everyone, unless they don’t live in California.
Final Cut Pro X
A lot less popular than Mac OS X was the announcement of the new version of Apple’s pro video-editing software Final Cut Pro, which it named Final Cut Pro X. Apple called it “jaw dropping”.
Its jaw-dropped users called it “iMovie Pro” because it had apparently ditched many of their favourite features to make it easier to use.
The Xbox grabs its place in Apple history by a piece of Microsoft skulduggery that enraged Steve Jobs even more than all its other acts of thievery and downright malice.
At a Macworld keynote in 2000 Jobs announced that developer Bungie would launch a Mac-only game called Halo.
Bungie was welcomed on stage to demo the amazing shoot ‘em up, which had the games world dribbling at the mouth in anticipation.
But soon it was Steve Jobs frothing at the mouth when Microsoft popped up, bought Bungie for $30m, canned its Mac-only games and launched Halo on its new Xbox games console instead of anywhere near a Mac.
The Bungie buddies had become baddies.
Apple has a free package of tools for developers to help them create applications for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad – including the Interface Builder design tool. Apple claims it’s the same tools that it used to create Mac OS X and iOS.
Many of the amazing things we now heap praise on Apple for inventing were actually dreamed up by photocopier maker Xerox at its PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), which was stuffed full with the world’s greatest computer engineers and programmers.
The mouse, laser printers, Ethernet, bitmap graphics, WYSIWYG text editing – all were birthed at Xerox PARC, although most of them needed a helping hand to make it in the big, wide world.
Most famous of all its inventions is the Graphical User interface (GUI), which might have come from the brilliant minds at PARC but is known throughout the world as the invention of Apple after Steve Jobs popped in for a look around one day in 1979 and came out with the idea that would make the Macintosh the first properly personal computer.
Jobs was persuaded by Jeff Raskin to visit PARC and see all the goodies therein, and offered Xerox the option to buy 100,000 Apple shares for $1m if he could have a snoop around. Many at PARC were not happy to be giving away their secrets but the Xerox bosses wanted a slice of Apple just before its IPO and invited the fox into the henhouse.
When Steve saw the prototype Xerox Alto computer’s Smalltalk operating environment, three-button mouse and pop-up menus he didn’t even pretend to be polite about the possibilities. He started jumping around the room, shouting ‘Why aren’t you doing anything with this? This is the greatest thing. This is revolutionary!’
Of course, Apple added a hell of a lot to its Lisa and Mac GUIs (pull-down menus, drag-&-drop, the Finder, etc) but even Jobs couldn’t deny that his visit to Xerox PARC was at least ‘influential’.
Jobs said of the deal: “If Xerox had known what it had and had taken advantage of its real opportunities it could have been as big as IBM plus Microsoft plus Xerox combined – and the largest high-technology company in the world.”
Steve Jobs didn’t seem the ostentatious sort. Indeed he lived for a long time in a house with practically no furniture, let alone a gold-lined Jacuzzi. For his last 20 years he lived modestly with his family in a simple country house in Palo Alto. Nicer than your house, of course, but not somewhere Donald Trump would feel at home.
Steve might have been friends with Oracle boss Larry Ellison but he didn’t have a jet-setting luxury life – even if he did have use of Apple’s luxury private jet.
“I have a very simple life. I have my family and I have Apple and Pixar. And I don’t do much else.”
But he did share one billionaire’s dream with Ellison – he was designing himself a yacht. Not a sail boat, dingy or speedboat, but a proper rich man’s yacht.
He worked on the design with French product designer Philippe Stark, who once made a mouse for Microsoft and a toilet brush – pretty much the same thing, I suppose. And as would be expected of a Jobs design it will, when finished, be “sleek and minimalistic” and with glass designed by the chief engineer of Apple’s retail stores. Almost certainly it won’t have an on-off switch.
Apple is very much an American company. Founder Steve Jobs didn’t wear a kilt, plus fours or lederhosen. He wore blue jeans. Apple products might be made in China, but they’re all stamped with the legend “Designed in California”.
UK Mac fans would regularly moan about American-English spellings in their Apple software. Pre-Mac OS X the UK version of the Mac OS deletion folder was called “Wastebasket” but its icon was a picture of a dustbin. In the US it was called “Trash”, which was fine as Americans call a dustbin a trashcan. In the UK it seemed stupid to call a dustbin a wastebasket, as I once informed the Mac OS 9 product manager. Apple duly changed its Trash icon into that of a wastebasket for OS X but renamed it Trash in the UK. So the UK’s trashcan-like icon called Wastebasket was changed to look like a wastebasket but renamed Trash. Only an American company would do that.
While Steve wasn’t an outwardly showy type of guy (although he was for a time partial to the odd bow tie) he certainly held a high opinion of himself. He was super confident that he would be chosen as Time’s Man Of The Year for 1982, after he’d been trailed by Time writer Michael Moritz prior to the issue’s publication.
“They FedExed me the magazine,” Jobs later told biographer Walter Isaacson, “and I remember opening the package, thoroughly expecting to see my mug on the cover, and it was this computer sculpture thing. I thought ‘Huh?’ And then I read the article [about him], and it was so awful that I actually cried.”
Apple has had an on/off love affair with colour. Sometimes it’s the most vibrant tech company in the world. The next day it’s all black and white.
The one colour Apple really doesn’t like is yellow. It made an appearance in the classic rainbow Apple logo (1976-1998) but any rainbow would look rubbish without yellow. Apple’s rainbow was one colour short anyway, missing out Indigo – later compensated by a fine showing in the 2001 iMac line.
But there was no yellow/banana/lemon iMac. And the iPod Socks drawer was similarly empty of yellow footwear. The current iPod nano and shuffle ranges feature a gold model but no classic yellow. Maybe it was just too close to beige for Steve’s liking.
It’s a tough gig being called Del at Apple but Apple’s most famous Del worked at the company before Michael Dell had even started his own.
Del Yocam has been described as the “absolute antithesis” of Steve Jobs but got on well with him enough to be the shoulder Steve cried onto when the Apple board removed his command of the Macintosh Group in April 1985.
Post-Jobs departure Yocam was made Apple’s Head of R&D, factories and distribution, and later Chief Operating Officer. He merged his old Apple II and Steve’s Macintosh divisions, stating “We are switching from being product driven to being market driven” – again, the antithesis of Apple post-Jobs return a decade later.
According to the Jobs biography the most important book in Steve’s life was the Autobiography of a Yogi. It was apparently the only book Steve had on his iPad.
“One book in particular stayed with Jobs his entire life…Autobiography of a Yogi, the guide to meditation and spirituality that he had first read as a teenager, then re-read in India and had read once a year ever since,” wrote Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson.
Named one of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the 20th Century, Paramahansa Yogananda’s remarkable life story takes the reader on an exploration of the world of saints and yogis, science and miracles, death and resurrection.
For a man, fond of sitting cross-legged, who’d once travelled through India, was sainted by Mac fans and after his passing by just about everyone except Steve Ballmer, made his life’s work performing miracles with science and technology, and almost single-handedly resurrected his company from near death, you can see why the book appealed to Steve.
Apple has always been too cool to be wacky or zany. Even dull old Microsoft tries to be zany every now and again, with cringe-worthy results. Steve Jobs appeared the very opposite of zany, although not dull like his successors John Sculley, Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio. Steve was cool, not fool.
But “zany” doesn’t get close to his idea to dress up as Willy Wonka and give a tour of the Apple campus to the buyer of the millionth iMac, which would have had a special Golden Ticket inside its box. Thankfully for his later self-esteem Californian gaming law meant that anyone could enter the running for the prize without having to buy an iMac. And there was no way Steve was dressing up or even smiling at a possible Windows user.
Steve Wozniak, on the other hand, was full of jokes and often unfunny pranks. Just take a look at his jumper, see last picture on this page.
For some reason Apple vs Microsoft, Android, and just about everyone else brings out the worst in otherwise quite boring people. Any argument between an Apple fan boys or anti-Mac nutter is as black and white as the Mac fan’s iPhone. Furious rows erupt over quite trivial details, such as the difference between the OS X Dock and the Windows Taskbar, or the dimensions of a phone’s screen. And who’d have it any other way?
While Apple’s always been cool, it has mostly been a niche player after an initial burst of domination – that is, before less innovative companies copy the hell out of its ideas. But you can’t deny that Apple catches the zeitgeist (“Spirit of the times”) more than most – from the Apple I to the iPad.
Steve Jobs might not have appeared the most peaceful of men, but he was profoundly influenced by Zen Buddhism, which he studied in India after dropping out of college. But Zen is all about contradictions, so let’s ignore ego-less calm and celebrate what Steve got most out of Zen: focus and empathy (for his customers rather than his employees and partners).
“Jobs’ Zen-like ability to focus was accompanied by the related instinct to simplify things by zeroing in on their essence and eliminating unnecessary components. Jobs aimed for the simplicity that comes from conquering, rather than merely ignoring, complexity,” writes Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson.
While every other band in the world got aboard the iTunes boat there were several high-profile digital-download refuseniks. Heavy rock bands seemed particularly put out by iTunes, with AC/DC, Metallica and Led Zeppelin giving Apple the horns.
Metallica was first to concede defeat to Jobs in 2006. Zeppelin‘s 2007 capitulation after four years in the digital wilderness was followed three years later by The Beatles. AC/DC was the last to refuse to sell their music on iTunes, although one of their songs sneaked in via a Beavis and Butthead soundtrack.AC/DC came to iTunes / Apple Music in June 2015.
(Zeppelin is also the name of a rather tasty iPod/iPhone speaker.)
On his return to Apple in 1997 Steve Jobs took a pop at the company’s current roster of “a zillion and one” products, and set about culling cameras, printers and the Newton PDA. From that day onwards at Apple, simplification ruled.
Apple’s QuickTake digital camera looked cool, but the subjects of its pictures often looked small due to its lack of a zoom. Today, the iPhone continues Apple’s obsession with fixed-focus cameras.
Possibly the greatest word in the dictionary, and served up right at the end. In chess parlance a zugzwang is a position in which one player can move only with loss or severe disadvantage. Since Steve’s return in 1997 when Apple looked like it had zugzwanged itself the revitalised company has patiently manoeuvred all its rivals and even partners into such perilous positions – ready to finally take over the world. Mwahahaha!
I’ve been to all the Apple CEO Macworld Expo keynotes (except the ones in Japan) since 1995, except the San Francisco one in January 1997 when my flight from New Zealand (where I’d been for Christmas) was delayed.
Even though I arrived in SF an hour before I’d left NZ I still missed the January 7 keynote by then Apple CEO Gil Amelio. It was a lucky escape.
While I was yawning through cross-international time zone jetlag the attendees at the Amelio keynote – were suffering a different but very real strangulating pain behind their eyes.
Amelio spoke for three hours, without a proper script and in front of a malfunctioning teleprompter. He had some stellar guests but forgot to get waiting Muhammad Ali onto the stage, and blew the appearance of Apple co-founding Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, by coming on after them and being as incoherent as he had before they’d woken everyone up.
(Even Woz’s jumper couldn’t cheer up an audience faced with more Amelio waffle.)
It was a fitting end to the era of a Steve-less Apple. Too long. Dull. An utter failure. Within days Jobs was back in power and everything was all right again. The nightmare was over, and we could all dream again.