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 Chiat\Day, Steve Jobs’ favourite advertising agency. Run by Lee Clow (see below) Chiat\Day 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 is yet to be released, but will be 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'.
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.
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 Chiat\Day 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 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.
Click on these letters to continue the Apple A-Z.