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.
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 as many 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.
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
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 iPhone 5.
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.
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