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.
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.
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 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.
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