back to article MAC TO THE FUTURE: 30 years of hindsight and smart-arsery

Christian schoolchildren who pay attention during Religious Education classes will at some point independently wonder why there are more Commandments than Deadly Sins. Keep your Commandments – why are there only seven naughty things to do in one’s life? Even by the age of 12, most youngsters could invent plenty more juicy sins …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Father Dabbs, praise be the lord for your insights! You should definitely teach religious education (is that a kinkier version of French education?) to the toiling masses of market and strategy consultants for they do wallow in the abject sin of hindsight* and should be shown the path to redemption.

    * Hindsight is not the art of constantly taking selfies of your rear end but is about as productive.

  2. Ketlan
    Devil

    So ghastly...

    "When we saw the first photos of the original iMac, IT journalists agreed it was the most ghastly computer we’d ever seen. Testing it, we found it to be slow and poorly configured and came with a mouse so badly designed that it made you want to go out and kill someone. A mouse that could drive you to murder? Yes, that’s how absolutely fucking dreadful it was."

    Oh God, how much can I possibly agree with this!!!

    And can you imagine the horror when I discovered that my youngest daughter's prospective secondary school had dumped everything else in favour of this rubbish? Needless to say, she chose another, far better, school to go to - one with a less fashion-driven IT teacher at the helm.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: So ghastly...

      Well when Special Reserve got ram raided they left the iMacs, so it has some bonus's.

    2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: So ghastly...

      "my youngest daughter's prospective secondary school had dumped everything else in favour of this rubbish"

      Everything? Textbooks, test tubes, and tennis rackets? I have no idea what the computer technology was at the offspring's secondary school--I assume Windows-based, but never looked,

    3. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: So ghastly...

      Conversely, I found it to be speedy*, neither well nor poorly configured, and with a mouse so badly designed it made me want to go out and kill someone. The machine was all but unusable until third parties finally started making USB mice.

      * in the same way that Pentium IIs felt at the time; not as the advertised massive leap forwards.

    4. JoeLog
      Holmes

      Mac PC and Others Future Forward?

      I seem to remember, when sober, that the Mac although expensive worked well as a desktop machine and proliferated many a magazine and advert. Around this time the IBM / (Alan Sugar's) Amstrad et al were tortoises and relatively expensive ones at that. The highly illuminating docu-film' triumph of the nerds' captured the early cut and thrust of operating systems, coding and the rush to get something workable into the market. It documented lost and found opportunities and some of the key players. Today the Apple dynasty still demands many shekels for its products - so no change there?

      So where to now? - as far as hardware goes its seems Tablets Androids and Clones will be 'on the march' and may format ALL in their way. BTW wonder what the 800,000,000 XP users will be doing mid April 2014 when support is cut? I still use XP - Time to download the final drivers, etc?

  3. mastodon't
    Pint

    I love the smell of Flame Bait on a friday

    I take it you never bought any stock

    Pint icon to go with your (Angostura) bitters

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I love the smell of Flame Bait on a friday

      I wonder why it always comes down to "stock"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I love the smell of Flame Bait on a friday

        Probably has something to do with the bad taste left in a certain Redmond company's mouth by selling $150m AAPL Preference stock in 2001, which would now be worth over $11Bn.

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: I love the smell of Flame Bait on a friday

          quote: "Probably has something to do with the bad taste left in a certain Redmond company's mouth by selling $150m AAPL Preference stock in 2001, which would now be worth over $11Bn."

          In the comments of an article extolling the sin of pretending (or assuming) information only available in hindsight should have been obvious at the time, no less. Is that deliberate irony, I wonder? ;)

          I feel somewhat vindicated that Alastair also appears to have noticed how Apple continually end up late at the parties (MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches) with their "saving grace" being that they've let others make the initial mistakes while rushing to market, and have a more mature market to sound out regarding the killer features that consumers actually want (like more storage aka hard disks, although they weren't even first for that).

          Maybe I should just lighten up and let the revisionists rewrite history to let Apple invent all handheld consumer electronics, but it always feels off when I have owned or used some of the preceeding kit (like some properly dire Win95 tablets, that I'd actually rather forget). Apple do it well, but they rarely do it first...

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: I love the smell of Flame Bait on a friday

            Mind you, while apple were late to MP3 players, tablet computers, smartphones etc., somehow that annoying smug git in the turtleneck turned out to be quite good a haranguing his whole company into building things that sold really well.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I love the smell of Flame Bait on a friday

              somehow that annoying smug git in the turtleneck turned out to be quite good a haranguing his whole company into building things that sold really well.

              That smug git drove one of the key reasons Apple products like iPhone and even the newer Mac OSX versions were welcomed: usability. Sadly, they took their eyes off iTunes, and it shows.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I love the smell of Flame Bait on a friday

        I think the stock thing has to do with all of the fanboys who rant on about how proud of Apple and how much money it has in the bank. It couldn't be that they love the company because it fleeces them out of their money at an alarming rate, could it? They must own stock, right?

  4. Semtex451 Silver badge

    However

    No one needed hindsight to see Microsoft ballsing everything up in the last 6 six years, hell since Vista.

  5. knarf

    Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

    Yip Bill Gates stepped in Gave Apple a big pile of money with very generous terms and saved apple. What did the employees of Apple do, boo him. I've read lots of "Mac / Apple Histories" over the past week and this little fact seems to have been missed, which is a pity, but Apple would have likely folded and we would all have crappy phones.

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

      No. Bill Gates was a part of their success.

      The revenues from the fruity iMacs pulled them out of the financial abyss.

      Bill Gates saved Apple by publicly supporting them at a low ebb [1] and, more importantly, by pledging the continuation of MS Office for the Mac for the next 5 years. I'm not sure how much Apple really needed $150m at the time.

      [1] The adjective for Apple at this time was 'beleaguered'.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

        It's more like BSD Unix saved them, right?

        And then 10'000 USD cannot be found to pay the electricity bills.

        Does anyone even remember Steve's gamble on NeXT that resulted in utter failure, but also utterly cool black boxes sitting on graduate students's desks? Anyone want to write up a "30 years of NeXT" next? It's gonna be soon.

        1. bygjohn

          Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

          Except OSX isn't based on BSD: it's based on Mach with some BSD-alike bits.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

            Except OSX isn't based on BSD: it's based on Mach with some BSD-alike bits.

            I think you mean mostly BSD bits with a smattering of Mach microkernel underneath

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

              1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

                I can't remember ever having written about Samsung, and the only Samsung product I have is a flat panel display. Bad troll, unsuccessful stabs in the dark and lazy writing. 0/10.

                1. larokus

                  Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

                  Destroy all monsters,

                  Please forgive him, he slavishly and blindly copied and pasted that pathetic diatribe from certain legal proceedings that refuse to die

              2. knarf

                Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

                Actually sir,

                I have never owned a samsung phone and likely never will, I have however had x3 iphones, a fair few mac books, ipad, ipod. I'm not a Mac Fan boy but do tend to buy their kit (sometimes).

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "I think you mean mostly BSD bits with a smattering of Mach microkernel underneath"

              Originally, the NeXT developed XNU was a MACH base, with some forked FreeBSD components (networking stack, POSIX API to name some components). I mean, that's the point of the BSD license, isn't it. XNU has evolved considerably beyond that now, but Apple do contribute to the FreeBSD project. But it doesn't really matter. You're obviously trying to be blithely dismissive by over simplifying things.

              1. P. Lee Silver badge

                Re: "I think you mean mostly BSD bits with a smattering of Mach microkernel underneath"

                Apple sell capabilities, not tech. The kernel is one of the more boring and backward bits of OSX. What, still no iscsi drivers? I doubt there's much special about Mach, but being a microkernel it might have helped them port between architectures.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

            Except OSX isn't based on BSD: it's based on Mach with some BSD-alike bits.

            The Mach kernel started life as a fork of the BSD kernel, and those "BSD-alike bits" have various copyrights on them that show they are BSD. NeXTStep was Mach and 4.3BSD, later updated with code from 4.4BSD. OS-X was NeXTStep after a major refresh using code from NetBSD, and more recently FreeBSD.

        2. Volker Hett

          Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

          They use BSD in form of BSDlite and older FreeBSD userland. It was OpenBSD who needed 20.000 for its electricity bill.

          One of the NeXt boxes was at CERN and one Tim Berners-Lee developed something totally irrelevant on it.

    2. Michael Strorm

      Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

      Not speaking as an Apple fan- because believe me, I certainly am not- but Gates' "saving" of Apple wasn't for purely altruistic reasons. Rather, it was for a more self-serving and pragmatic one- it suited Microsoft to have Apple around as a not-too-strong "competitor" they could point to when accusations of them being a monopoly came up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

        ... and the fact that SJ provided absolutely incontrovertible evidence that MS had copied Apple's codec and that MS was looking an unwinnable, very embarrassing court case squarely in the face ... nah, nothing to do with at all.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

        Microsoft was at the time, and probably still is, the largest software company developing products for the Mac. MS also had revenue reasons.

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple @knarf

      By nobody you all include the Reg articles that explicitly mentioned this point?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple @knarf

        By nobody you all include the Reg articles that explicitly mentioned this point?

        Sure sounds like higher-brow readership in here.

    4. Jes.e

      Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

      I heard an interesting theory as to why Microsoft "saved" Apple.

      Wasn't Microsoft under heavy investigation from the government for antitrust reasons at this time?

      if Apple had folded, then the only available PC (that's personal computer) to consumers would have been one with a Microsoft OS on it..

      Hmmmmmmm.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Nobody remembers Bill Gates saved Apple

        Jobs wasn't booed by Apple employees, he was both booed and cheered — the video is easy to find — by a crowd of convention goers. Imagine the reaction Michael Foot would have received from a satellite link-up with Mrs. T at the Labour Party conference, then divide by about a hundred million. Chris Christie got a lot worse than Jobs did for embracing Obama. Though if I have to cite the Republican Party to make something else look reasonable, maybe I've already lost the argument?

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Confused:

    >Worse, Apple opted for hard disk technology while every other manufacturer believed solid-state storage was the ideal portable storage.

    >It duly signed up the only supplier of miniature hard disks that would fit the iPod form-factor and locked them into an exclusivity contract, in return guaranteeing that it would purchase its entire stock regardless.

    That meant no one else could make hard disk MP3 players, even if they had wanted to. Don'tcha just love the free market?

    So on the one hand, you're suggesting that nobody else wanted to make HDD-based players, but also saying that nobody else could make HDD-based players?

    It was very hard to get hold of those little Toshiba HDDs... The only way I could hold of one to fix my iRiver H320 was to dissect an iPod with a broken screen. I chose the iRiver over the iPod because of wider Codec support, drag-n-drop support, USB-host support, line in and microphone recording, and supposed audio quality... oh, and it was slightly cheaper. I later found out that Rockbox let my play Doom on it (a pointless exercise really, but cool) and Gameboy classics.

    It was frustrating a year or two later to be unable to buy a non-iPod HDD player.

    Nor did the iPod introduce the 'scroll wheel' to portable audio- I had one on my Sharp minidisc player/recorder, though it wasn't used for track select - instead it was for jogging through tracks, and for entering text.

    The pre-iPod HDD players were often a bit shit, though. The Creative that looked like a portable CD player was a silly form factor, and the later Creative Nomad was unreliable (the audio-out jack was soldered directly to the PCB, and so was unforgiving of longer audio jacks)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused:

      Very true.

      Also the description of Apple being "late to the MP3 party" and making an "insane gamble on storage capacity"

      is a bit bollocks.

      Another way of describing it, which would be better, was that Apple delayed entering the MP3 market until the technology (tiny HDD drives) existed that would actually make MP3 players worth having, and better than the alternatives.

      I also remember the early solid-state MP3 players. Didn't they come in 64 and 128MB versions?

      I.e. barely enough memory to hold a single album as a very highly compressed, terrible sounding MP3.

      I remember seeing those on sale at the time and thinking I would stick to my mini-disk player, which at least sounded better and had the ability to swap disks if I wanted to listen to more than one album.

  7. Valeyard

    ha

    I like the article. Even without any particular dislike of macs (I accept some people prefer them and don't begrudge them that) rewriting the company's history as some epic journey from the start is just distorting some non-events into turning points that made humanity gasp

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  9. Wemb

    Errr. "Ridley Scott’s dystopian mini-epic featuring the future second Mrs Stallone"??

    That wasn't Brigitte Nielsen, it was an English discus thrower called Anya Major.

  10. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Locked into enforced throw-away

    The problem with Apple products is:

    I've got a decent monitor, but now I have to throw it away and use the crappy one in my new computer.

    I've got a decent computer, but now I have to throw it away and use the crappy one with my new monitor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Locked into enforced throw-away

      Mac Mini?

      Mac Pro?

      Even during the compact run, various PC-like boxes were made, 2s LC 'pizza' boxes, up to the beige G3 which were basically an iMac sans the form factor, colour and USB.

      The G3/4 towers were iMac coloured but a proper tower, then the 'cube'...

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Devil

        Re: Locked into enforced throw-away

        > Mac Mini?

        Overpriced and underpowered crap that will cook itself.

        > Mac Pro?

        Ridiculously overpriced.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Locked into enforced throw-away

          > Mac Mini?

          >Overpriced and underpowered crap that will cook itself.

          Really?

          > Mac Pro?

          >Ridiculously overpriced.

          That's been resoundingly disproved. Ridiculously overkill, maybe.

        2. martin burns
          FAIL

          Re: Locked into enforced throw-away

          >> Mac Mini?

          >Overpriced and underpowered crap that will cook itself.

          When?

          I currently have a 2006 era Mac Mini that's been running 24x7 as a media server (iTunes backend to AppleTVs and Airport Expresses) since 2008, including video transcoding most days.

          I also have a 2007 era Mac Mini that is the wife's main desktop computer. And a 2011ish Mac Mini Server that's running our home network's services plus external email and websites for the family. Not a huge load on it, granted, but like the other two, at no point has it tried to cook itself.

        3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Decade
      Angel

      Re: Locked into enforced throw-away

      "I've got a decent monitor, but now I have to throw it away and use the crappy one in my new computer."

      No, you don't. Most people have pretty crappy monitors, and now Apple refuses to sell an iMac with less than 1080p IPS with anti-reflective coating.

      But if you do have a good monitor, you can connect it to any Mac. The iMac can even drive 2 external monitors using only mini-DisplayPort adapters.

      "I've got a decent computer, but now I have to throw it away and use the crappy one with my new monitor."

      No, you don't. You think you did because it's big and you spent money on it years ago, but even the slowest iMac is faster than most computers I see in people's homes. But nobody is forcing you to buy an iMac. I don't see the point of getting an iMac instead of a nice IPS display if you truly don't want to use the iMac.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't know about all that stuff. The Mac was way too expensive on the Continent. Windows was it's crappy self. So I had a Risc OS machine.

    But nowadays a Mac is quite affordable. And Windows much less crappy than it used to be. Both systems still needs way too much hand holding, diaper changing and lace tying. But still, there is a tiny bit of improvement going on, now computers are finally being made for normal people, instead of systems people looking for easy money.

  12. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    often you don’t remember things in quite the same way as they are being recounted by some smart-arse who’s just snorted a line of hindsight

    One of the bizarre experiences of advancing age is to see your own youth recycled as period drama, and to sit there spotting the anachronisms.

  13. JamesSmith

    Methinks thou doth protest too much. Or why are you such a whiny little bitch?

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      why are you such a whiny little bitch?

      <sigh> It's supposed to give you a gentle titter on a Friday afternoon. I write one of these every week. No big deal really.

      1. getHandle

        Re: why are you such a whiny little bitch?

        Great end to the week - ignore the tight-arses Dabbsy - you keep it up!

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: why are you such a whiny little bitch?

          I hear those sugar-free Haribo Bears are pretty effective at getting the tight-arsed ones' liquids flowing again.

          Those buttons are being pushed. Never fondle people's religions.

  14. Justin Clements

    Strange Article

    Seems to me that at the key points of Apple's history, the author managed to call just about every shot they made wrong, and seem to be a little bitter about it. I'll agree at the time journalists got it wrong, but the consumer - didn't! The consumer bought what they liked and in the quanities liked. Heck remember the IT journo who is still around who reckoned the mouse on the Lisa/Plus would never take off?

    Just because you're a journalist doesn't suddenly make you insightful.

    If you had been insightful, you would have looked at the original iPhone and seen by it's UI that it was so far ahead of everything else on the market it was unbelievable. Which it was. I was a mere mortal, the buying public; I didn't like the iPhone because it was Apple, I liked it because of the sheer presentation of the UI. Compared to Nokia, WM6 or whatever and the rest, it kicked them in the goolies and ran off with their wallets.

    If you didn't see the massive shake up of the market after handling an iPhone (or an iPad for that matter) look no further than your own limited imagination.

    But Apple as a company go much further than that; which you should know. Remember plugging in an ImageWriter into LocalTalk? It was networked straight away. Whilst PC users were looking at an absys of black screens and some ropey old dot matrix connected via some funky Centronic tectonic interface that was near on impossible to share, there was a Mac user doing it with a couple of mouse presses. Look at ADB ports. Again the PC user had this massive AT connector for the keyboard and a 232 port for the mouse (and then drivers etc - which COM is my driver on - WHO FUCKING CARES?), the Mac user had an easy to use bus. Dare I mention disk handling? Plug in SCSI drive and there it was? No, other users of other systems were never exactly blessed with that. I could go on. I will - MULTIPLE SCREENS!! Imagine putting two screens on a PC in 1990? What sort of IRQ hell would you go through?

    Apple and the Mac were more than just a few announcement, shifts in policy, different people joining leaving. There was the whole Macintosh development behind them that continued on and made the Mac such an easy machine to live with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Strange Article

      @Justin - You make exactly the point in the article - Apple revisionism - You seem to "remember" that the original iPhone was amazing, it was very far from that, it missed out major features. There was no app store, there was no mms, there wasn't even cut and paste.

      Yes, with localtalk you may have been able to plug your laser printer straight in, but it only went at 256kb a second (IIRC) it was slower than Econet on a BBC Micro. The protocol was so talkative that the actual resulting bandwidth was piss-poor. The PC may have been a right old pain in the pain to setup the networking, but once you had you could plug in to Ethernet, or Token Ring and actually talk to other open systems.

      Let us not forget that, upon launch, most software companies didn't want to touch the Mac with a bargepole, MS were about the only company other than Apple to actively develop for it.

      This is not to say that I don't like Apple products, I love by MBP (most of the time), but I don't like this revisionist approach where Apple did no wrong. I used to love my Newton, but in another fit of pique the project was canned by Jobs.

      1. Justin Clements

        Re: Strange Article

        @AC, You make exactly the point in the article - Apple revisionism - You seem to "remember" that the original iPhone was amazing,

        The problem is that I do remember it as amazing because we used to discuss it down the pub and were busy fondling a friends new iPhone. I remember having same conversations with friends working at Sun who hated Apple on a point of principle. Anyone who actually played with one and bought one loved it.

        Which is why it succeeded.

        We didn't care about the camera, or the lack of whatever G everyone else was up to, we looked purely at the UI and decided that, yeah, it was amazing.

        Remember the woeful battery on the iPhone - it was an article on El Reg that actually suggested that the battery was so bad because Apple never expected people to engage with the phone as much as they did.

        If journalists had actually bothered to listen to anyone outside their own dark spheres they would have been told "this thing is brilliant". If anyone had told Nokia, Microsoft and RIM how good the iPhone was - they wouldn't all be nursing some broken business plans.

        And here's why I am right - Apple came from nowhere in phones - where are they now? 50m phones per quarter! Apple did not do that by having a bad product. It was good, the buyers told their friends, it expanded real quick.

        Please do not tell me that selling 1m iPhones in the first quarter (or whatever it was) was bad either. Most businesses would kill for such sales.

      2. Justin Clements

        Re: Strange Article

        >Yes, with localtalk you may have been able to plug your laser printer straight in, but it only went at 256kb a second (IIRC) it was slower than Econet on a BBC Micro. The protocol was so talkative that the actual resulting bandwidth was piss-poor. The PC may have been a right old pain in the pain to setup the networking, but once you had you could plug in to Ethernet, or Token Ring and actually talk to other open systems.

        Again, here is the revisionism, you thought it was crap, but it wasn't. IIRC LocalTalk barely got you 8kb per second, I mean, it was slow. No doubt about that.

        But at the time it was reasonably fast because the files were tiny in comparison to today. Just the fact that you could network two machines together so easily is overlooked. Whilst someone on a PC was messing around Novell (?) the Mac did it from out the box with nothing extra, you could talk some secreatary over the phone in a few mouse presses how to share her files to another Mac.

        As I said earlier, so many people overlook what a joy Macs were to use and work on, even back in the 80s and 90s.

        Heck, if you want to see how overengineered a Mac SE was - I replugged a machine once - pulled the power cord out and stuck a new one in. In the second, to maybe second and a half that it was unplugged, it stayed powered! There was enough current in the PSU to keep it running!

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Strange Article

      >Just because you're a journalist doesn't suddenly make you insightful.

      You, sir, have taken my fragile childish illusions and dropped a mountain of despair onto them.

      Woe.

    3. Irony Deficient

      MULTIPLE SCREENS!!

      Justin, my IBM PC XT had two monitors in 1985 (one color for the IBM CGA card, one monochrome for the Hercules Graphic Card). You might be surprised at how little IRQ manipulation was required for that setup.

      1. Justin Clements

        Re: MULTIPLE SCREENS!!

        >Justin, my IBM PC XT had two monitors in 1985 (one color for the IBM CGA card, one monochrome for the Hercules Graphic Card). You might be surprised at how little IRQ manipulation was required for that setup.

        And you could move your mouse seamlessly from one screen to the other? Even repositioning how the two monitors fitted together.... Hmmmmm........

        1. Irony Deficient

          Re: MULTIPLE SCREENS!!

          Justin, different programs ran on the two monitors, and both of them were started from the DOS command line. There was nothing to “fit together” for repositioning. Your point was the IRQ hell of multiple monitors in 1990, and my point was that that hell didn’t exist even in 1985. Would you please tell me how the Macintosh 512K could support multiple monitors in 1985?

          1. Decade
            Trollface

            Re: MULTIPLE SCREENS!!

            My memory of the era is a bit fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure you could extend the display on a 512K Mac by attaching a display adapter to the CPU. As in, open the thing, pull out the motherboard, and clamp an adapter precariously to the pins that attach the 68000 to the motherboard.

            I'm not sure anybody actually built a display adapter that did that, though. I definitely remember some adapter designed to be clamped on like that, but I'm not 100% sure what it was.

      2. FredT

        Re: MULTIPLE SCREENS!!

        and how few apps actually supported multiple monitors on PCs, prior to Windows 9x.

    4. Decade
      Headmaster

      Re: Strange Article

      AppleTalk was great, and I loved how much faster the Chooser was than the Network Neighborhood, but your anecdotes don't seem to jive with reality.

      I don't know where you got your ImageWriter, but I've never seen one with an AppleTalk card installed. From the documentation, and from the drivers that came with the Macintosh OS, I know they existed, but I've never seen one. Likewise, I never bought the software that would let me share my StyleWriter with the other Macs on the network. That was the domain of businesses that actually had enough money to spend. Also, you did have to worry which serial port your printer was attached to, except Apple labeled them Printer and Modem instead of COM1 and COM2.

      Multiple screens were nicer than PC, but rare. If you wanted multiple screens on a Mac, you needed to get an additional NuBus card. Or, later, a PCI card. Powerbooks could run only one screen at a time, at best mirroring.

      SCSI was nice, but that's what you get when you put workstation technology on a PC. Here are some shortcomings:

      1) It was not hot-plug. All my Macs had a copy of SCSIProbe to activate any device that wasn't there when the computer first booted up.

      2) It used manual addresses. 7 and 0 were SCSI controller and internal hard drive, respectively. But what about the rest? In the words of some forum philosopher, "WHO FUCKING CARES?"

      3) It turned users into amateur electricians, because it required terminators to eliminate reflections.

      4) Apple didn't keep up with storage technology. My Quadra 900 had 5 MB/s SCSI in 1991. My Power Mac G3 had 5 MB/s SCSI in 1998. Ultra Wide SCSI (40 MB/s) existed, but was the domain of expensive workstations and servers.

      In one way, PCs were even worse than you describe. IBM introduced the PS/2 mouse and keyboard connectors. Now, instead of 2 different ports for 2 different peripherals, you had 2 same ports that were not interchangeable. Plug the mouse into the keyboard port and vice versa, and you get an error when you boot up. Macs were so much better; you could plug keyboards and mice into the ADB in any combination you wanted. Keyboards even had ADB ports and power buttons, so you needed only one extra-long ADB cable to put the computer somewhere far away and give you some quiet.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regardless of all the geekery, the woman in the '1984' Apple ad wasn't Brigitte Nielsen. That's just, you know, wrong. If you're going to write an article about 'smartarsery' it's probably a good idea to get the basic facts included within it correct.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Regardless of all the geekery, the woman in the '1984' Apple ad wasn't Brigitte Nielsen.

      Ok, so who was it then?

  16. danny_0x98

    Every Plane A Fighter Jet

    Okay. 1984. Who was making personal computers for sale. 2014. Who remains? There is a story in the Apple story and if a particular version could use more acknowledgment of luck, well, that's a fair point in any historical naarative.

    From my personal perspective, in February 1984, my younger brother drove up to an Apple reseller in Solvang, California to get the only one available in three counties. He had access to a clean room and he upgraded it to 256k RAM. For the next few months he also had a business doing the same for the engineers at the place he worked.

    As to businesses and general consumers, interest in the Mac was muted at best, and one can easily work out the reasons.

    But among people who were into computers — it was my major in college the decade before, but I was a radio announcer those days — it was front page news. Within 24 months, I had bought my brother's Mac (and he became a 25 year faithful DOS/Windows person) and I had transitioned into work doing advertisement for a savings and loan. Desktop publishing meant my Mac and I foretold BYOD in the 80s when I brought all the typesetting of ads, annual reports, brochures, and internal forms in-house, using my personal Mac. Used it at home to develop MIDI parts for the record my rock band made.

    So, put me down as among those who think something of note did happen 30 years back. The quality of the telling — as with all things — is the responsibility of the author. Though I left the Mac fold in 1996, I returned in 2001 when OS X delivered Unix without window manager fussery.

    And, Bondi Blue under-powered iMacs? Under-powered for the internet-excited general consumer of 1998? No. And a shape and color that said "no fiddly cables" and "I'm fun for the life outside of work?" Yes. Besides, Rin-Tin-Tin has been billed as the dog that saved Hollywood. Clearly the animal's thespian range was beside the point. The iMac turned around Apple's cratering fortunes and as far as I can recall every other computer maker in similar straits went under with barely a trace.

    1. Robert Sneddon

      Survivors

      "Okay. 1984. Who was making personal computers for sale. 2014. Who remains?"

      HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic among others. There was a company called Apple Computer around back then but it doesn't exist any more since they stopped concentrating on producing computers and became a media distribution hub (iTunes).

  17. MD Rackham

    Mouse Hindsight

    I certainly don't care to defend the original Apple mouse, but another example of revisionism is the idea that "journalists" of the time were aghast at how bad it was. This was 1984. Most "journalists" had never seen a mouse, let alone used enough to be critical of a specific implementation.

    The introduction of the Mac caused everyone else to go out and start building mice, even if you couldn't really do anything with them. Fortunately, those other people learned from Apple's original design mistakes (sharp corners, ouch!).

    Yes, the original MS mouse shipped about 6 months before the Mac 128K--remember that MS had Macs before the public did--but few sold as there wasn't much use for a mouse in command line MS-DOS. And the design was nearly as bad as Apple's.

    (I'd claim that the original iMac "hockey puck" mouse was an even worse design. No sharp corners, but you couldn't figure out which way was "up" so were always mousing at a diagonal.)

  18. FredT

    Good troll . . .

    if one wants to visits the lowlights of the 30 years, not the highlights.

    The 128K was a joke when it came out, but 1986's 1MB Mac Plus was a serious tool for anyone. Add in the Mac's growing base of first-class software -- the recognizable antecedents of all the stuff we use today -- PhotoShop, Excel, Word, PageMaker, HyperCard, PowerPoint, etc and Apple's excellent, shareable LaserWriter series, and you've got productivity streets ahead of MS-DOS and Windows v1~3 (LOL).

    Then the next year Apple dropped the bomb on PCs with the Mac II. This machine was so awesome I actually saved money for 2 years to buy one (as a poor college student), and the IIcx I got in 1989 served me very, very well while Atari, Microsoft, and Amiga bumbled their way through the early 1990s.

    Then came Apple's standout "Powerbook" line, which got incrementally even better right though 2000's Powerbook G4. As is the state today, you couldn't go wrong then buying a high-end Apple laptop vs. the Windows competition, since Windows sucks so. Sucked on laptops then too, of course.

    (While not the sharpest knife in the drawer, Amelio did what had to be done to pull Apple out of its mid-1990s tailspin.)

    Apple wasn't first to the PMP party, just as it wasn't first to the PC, GUI (Xerox Star came out in 1981), office laser printer (HP LaserJet, 1983), tablet, or smartphone markets.

    But prior to the iPod, you could have a pocketable PMP or one that held more than 1 CD of songs, not both. Xerox was making personal workstations not PCs. For the LaserWriter, Apple had the balls and vision to put in a CPU to render PostScript. The LaserJet was just a glorified LPR until the mid-1980s, with piss-poor font options and very limited ability to render in-page graphics, and no LAN ability, all things 1985's LaserWriter had solved out of the gate.

    But it's not that Apple's been so hot these 30 years, for every success they've had a massive fail.

    They were just able to innovate a bit faster than everyone else -- albeit occasionally, but to big effect, given how important information technology is to our daily lives.

  19. sisk Silver badge

    Personally I still think putting a disk in the original iPod was a mistake. Marketing saved the day though. If J. Random Musiclover had known that you can't realistically expect a hard drive to survive for long when it's reading while strapped to the arm of a jogger the things would never have caught on, but Apple managed to keep that fact out of public knowledge somehow.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did not read the article

    Well, not all of it. Sorry Alistair, I just find your prose a bit monotonous and long-winded (it is said in the spirit of constructive criticism, no offence intended).

    However, I can hopefully answer your question about the commandments: In a nutshell, from the point of view of Abrahamic religions, the story is that there is (exactly one) God who told this bloke called Noah to follow seven precepts. Now, because (so the story goes) none of us humans would be here if it wasn't for this Noah lad being quite the craftsman and a passable sailor, this one God considers that the least we could do is obey those same "commandments", and if he catches you being nasty you're toast.

    Some time latter another bloke, this one called Abraham (Bram between mates) ill-advisedly went up a hill one mid-summer afternoon and came back down with a couple of tablets which he either scrawled up himself during a heat-stroke and dehydration induced delirious fit or he got given by (the one) God, depending on whose story you believe. Either way, 70% of the stuff written on those tablets is what had already been said to Noah some years prior, the difference being that anything which hadn't been mentioned before applied only to Bram's own tribe rather than the whole of humanity. Afterwards, other people from the tribe kept adding more and more rules, bit like Wikipedia administrators, to bring the total up to 613 or thereabouts, but most of those are not really so important and can be safely ignored unless you get on the wrong side of an admin. Chances are that the (exactly one) Jimbo is not going to punish you for it though, and even then, he's only going to be bothered if you're a member of the tribe to start with, otherwise he doesn't really care.

    Anyhow, that's more or less how I remember it. I might have got a few details wrong. HTH.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: I did not read the article

      *I'm* long-winded?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I did not read the article

        > *I'm* long-winded?

        Fair enough, and at least you get paid for it. :)

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I did not read the article

      "Some time latter another bloke, this one called Abraham (Bram between mates) ill-advisedly went up a hill one mid-summer afternoon and came back down with a couple of tablets"

      Moses, shirley?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I did not read the article

        > Moses, shirley?

        Could have been Moshe actually. To be honest, I wasn't there, I just heard the story from mates down the pub.

        And please don't call me Surely.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone was a revolution

    I was too young at the time for the Mac to have an impact on my life but it's hard to overstate the significance of the iPhone in my mind.

    Since around ~2004 I was sure that phones would take over music, camera, and web browsing duties and I didn't understand why it wasn't happening faster and better. Phones with 3.5mm audio connectors were like hen's teeth. At one point I ended up importing a ROKR E2, which was a disaster of a phone. Phones that didn't have absolute garbage photo quality were also hard to find. I bent over backwards to get a Sony K750i which was one of the first 2 megapixel phones and was said to take "crystal clear" photos. I have a couple hundred photos that say otherwise. And I also had an HTC Windows Phone at one point (the Faraday?) that was supposed to be able to render "real" web pages but did so to the phone's viewport, which was usually beyond pointless to try to read or operate.

    Then came the iPhone, which with one fell swoop seemed to sort out the whole situation. Standard 3.5mm audio connector with MP3 software that let you quickly browse through gigabytes of music? Check. Best camera available in a phone without having to import a Nokia N95 from Hong Kong or somewhere, plus software that let you quickly browse through hundreds/thousands of photos? Check. Internet browser that rendered webpages to a normal size viewport and let you zoom by pinching? Check.

    Compared to all the phones that came before the iPhone and what abject failures they were at any of these things, the iPhone is nothing short of astonishing and it's a shame that some people might never realize that, or might forget it.

  22. Shugyosha

    Just on the minature HDD thing...

    You might want to take a look at the Nokia N91. I had one of these, it was a great phone with an 8GB HDD in it and fantastic sound quality. So not only were the small form factor HDDs not exclusive to Apple, but there was a company who was also using them in phones. It was not that big a phone, for the time.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Ballmer was right...

    ... and Apple dropped the price of the original iPhone..

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