A-Z of Apple
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 has 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.
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 www.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, 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. (Source: ‘Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders’ by Jim Carlton)
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