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Apple Businesses

Apple History At folklore.org 223

Posted by timothy
from the fun-reading dept.
oaklybonn writes "Andy Hertzfeld seems to be the primary author on this fascinating site, which details many of his experiences in the Macintosh (Bicycle??) development efforts. It includes such choice commentary as: "we were amazed that such a thoroughly bad game could be co-authored by Microsoft's co-founder, and that he would actually want to take credit for it in the comments.", on a page describing a game bundled with the original IBM PC." Reader themexican adds "As a plus, Hertzfeld notes in the faq that the python code running the well-designed and easy to navigate site will be made public in the near future."
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Apple History At folklore.org

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  • by commbat (50622) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:04AM (#8097725) Homepage
    "As a plus, Hertzfeld notes in the faq that the python code running the well-designed and easy to navigate site will be made public in the near future."

    Shows if you want to run a site written with an interpreted language and expect Slashdot level interest, you'd better be running it on one hell of a monster machine.

    Sheesh!

  • I think it boils down to the core concept that "users do not want to use a computer". From this leads designers to think of ways of alleviating redundancies and mundanity and in its place add comfort and features. The Mac UI really was a significant milestone for computers when it was first introduced. The GUI concept was a long time in coming and the Mac was so far ahead of the rest that it is only the lack of business acumen of the folks at Apple that hampered such a revolutionary product.

    Even today the interface is still significantly different and better than the alternatives. The concept of only a single window frame with a single menu bar at the top of the screen is easy for new users to grok. The reduction of mouse buttons to one makes such things as "Press the right-click... nono the button on the right... no, don't double click it, only click it once... no, press Control-Z to undo that... no, just stop touching the computer until I can come over, mom" a thing of the past. Who would have thought that a seemingly backwards step as the single mouse button would be such a revolutionary step forward for computing?

    It's almost like Apple has sucked all the brainpower out of Silicon Valley and packed it all into their Macintosh line. I have never owned a Mac, but I have many friends who do and who constantly rave about how much they love it. And I believe deep down that the reason they love it so much is because fundamentally they hate computers, but their Mac behaves unlike any other computer out there. It does its job and gets out of the way, unlike other operating systems which force you to spend half your time fiddling with screen refresh rates and Config menus just to get down to your real business.
  • by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:24AM (#8097798) Homepage Journal
    Okay I'll bite. Was Donkey.bas the greatest thing in the world? Heck no. But it isn't as bad as this article makes it out to be. Donkey was never meant to be a true game. It was friggin' demo. I remember running and thinking, okay that's nice. What else is there?

    There was plenty. The PC when it was first introduced ran all the Infocom games at the time. It ran Wizardry and all the Epyx games. Sure it wasn't as homey as the Apple II my friend had, but all the business were buying it.

    I'm opening myself up for -1 Trolls and Overrated, but the PC wasn't *that* bad. It's easy to take a swipe at Gates for something thrown together at the last minute. It's not like he was making Choplifter or anything. In the end, the PC's open architecture that led it to be the computer platform of choice. The C64, Amiga, Atari ST were all great gaming platforms but just couldn't keep up with the ever upgrading of the PC. The roots of today's Half-Life 2, Doom 3's and Counter-Strikes all have roots with that first PC so long ago.

  • Amazing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @04:54AM (#8097891)
    I'm boggled about how a comment about Apple's design and history can be off-topic in a story about Apple's design and history.
  • by Riktov (632) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:04AM (#8097908) Journal

    The reduction of mouse buttons to one makes such things as "Press the right-click... " a thing of the past. Who would have thought that a seemingly backwards step as the single mouse button would be such a revolutionary step forward for computing?

    Although for most users at the time, who had never before seen any mouse, let alone a three-button Xerox Alto or two-button Microsoft mouse, the Mac one-button was the first and original. Let's just say it was Microsoft's seemingly revolutionary two-button mouse (or more to the point, windowing environment,) that turned out to be a backwards step.

    Nonetheless, could you live without the scroll-wheel? You must admit that's a worthwhile innovation, and it's astounding that Apple still hasn't appropriated it.

    The concept of only a single window frame with a single menu bar at the top of the screen is easy for new users to grok.

    Sorry, I have always considered this a confusing, bad design. It's a relic of single-tasking from the original Mac OS. The problem is that it's not just a single window frame. In the original Mac with single-tasking, the desktop was monopolized by a single app, even though that app might have multiple windows. But with multitasking, all the windows from different programs are on the desktop, yet there is no visual mapping from the menubar to its associated windows in the foreground program.

    Fitt's law be damned, in a windowing GUI, a window defines the territory of a program, and that's where everything should fit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @05:06AM (#8097912)
    It was copied, that is for sure, but it was far from "open." A plagiarized design doesn't make it "open" in the same fashion that a blown up safe lock box is also an "open" box.


    Um...no, it wasn't plagerized. The people who made the first clone were locked in a room and didn't come out until they finished their clone. All they did was pass the output of their design to people outside of the room who would either say whether the outout of the clone chip was the same as the IBM chip.

    IBM did themselves in by assuming that no one could make a duplicate of their design. Based on this assumption, they didn't bother to copyright/prevent people from making the motherboard EXACTLY like they did.
  • by sapporo (552550) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:07AM (#8098056)
    Sorry, I have always considered this a confusing, bad design.

    IMHO, there's more to that design decision that you think. The fact that the Mac's menu bar is placed at the top of the screen makes it a lot easier to point at with the mouse, because you simply cannot move the mouse pointer too far. This makes it far superior in terms of usability that Windows-style menus at the top of each window.

    For more details, I recommend reading "The Humane Interface" by Jef Raskin. UIs should be based on scientific usability studies, not developers' tastes - that's what Gnome and KDE suffer from.

  • by JumperCable (673155) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:00AM (#8098220)
    Then, one guy had this idea to measure how efficient a human being is on a bicycle. It was awesome, he was drastically more efficient, able to go further and without burning as many calories. It knocked the bird out of first place.

    No surprise they were enamored by the efficiency of a bicycle. After pounding on my old Apple II/e's keyboard through grade school & high school almost anything was bound to be more efficient. Those were keys of lead. Even an old-fashioned manual typewriter was easier on my hands. It definitly kept the phrase "pounding the keyboard" going strong. At least it turned me into a really good typist.

    Although I have to admit I was so fascinated by the thing at the time I really didn't mind. Graphical interface? Mouse? *Phhft* who needs 'em.
  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:01AM (#8098223)
    "Sorry, I have always considered this a confusing, bad design. It's a relic of single-tasking from the original Mac OS. The problem is that it's not just a single window frame. In the original Mac with single-tasking, the desktop was monopolized by a single app, even though that app might have multiple windows. But with multitasking, all the windows from different programs are on the desktop, yet there is no visual mapping from the menubar to its associated windows in the foreground program."

    There is good reason for the way the Mac OS handles itself the way it does. While it would seem like a good idea to contain all parts of a program within a single window, there are several problems with this... many of which become very confusing to the end user.
    • Too many menus!

    • As the user begins opening more and more applications, it takes longer for the user to find the correct menu among several windows. Going by the Human Interface Guidelines, a single menu on the screen reduces the time needed to locate the correct item. The menu also identifies the currently active application by displaying the application name/icon within itself.

    • Where did my menu go?

    • By making the menu part of the window, the menu is forced to travel around the screen with the window, unless the window is maximized to full screen. By locking the menu into a single, isolated place on the screen, it causes the interface to become much more predictable for the user. Predictability equals efficiency.

    • How do I create a new document after closing the last one, without having to relaunch the entire application?

    • With a menu stored entirely within a window, you can't... unless your application displays windows within other windows. Under the Human Interface Guidelines, this isn't an issue. The app continues running until the user decides to kill it himself. As applications get bigger over time, so does their load time. The time wasted per year by creating a new instance of an app each time the user mistaken closes the previous document when he meant to create a new document, could add up to hours or even days worth of time.
    There are other issues, but these are the major ones that tend to cause the most trouble. This is not to say there aren't problems with the Mac OS in it's current form though. For whatever reason, Apple apparently did away with most of the Human Interface Guidelines somewhere between Mac OS 8 and Mac OS X. As a result, things are now much more complicated than they need to be. So, if there is a problem with something in Mac OS 9/Mac OS X, blame Apple... not the Human Interface Guidelines they should have been following.
  • by Pyrometer (106089) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:10AM (#8098252) Homepage
    The concept of only a single window frame with a single menu bar at the top of the screen is easy for new users to grok.

    Sorry, I have always considered this a confusing, bad design. It's a relic of single-tasking from the original Mac OS.

    I always thought this myself comming from the Windows land, however, think of it this way ...

    It is a multi-tasking OS, however, as a user you can only interface with one thing at a time. Hence you can only interfact with a single menu item no matter how many menu items are displayed on the screen. Therefore, the fact that there is only a single menu item is a moot point.

    In regards to the "visual mapping", that is why it is a standard on the Mac to have the application name as the first entry in the menu item. It gives you that visual mapping so to speak ... off course it is generally obvious which application you are working with in any case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:41AM (#8098351)
    Actually, in many ways the PC was open. The schematics were listed in an appendix to the manuals, it used over-the-counter hardware parts, and the operating system and main system software was made by a third party, who had rights to resell it (well, they sold it in a slightly different form). The only part which was closed was the BIOS, which was clean-room reverse engineered.

    By contrast, you couldn't make a Mac clone: the system software was closely guarded by Apple. Cloning MacOS is a much harder task than cloning a simple BIOS. The Amiga was worse: you'd not only need to clone the OS, but the custom chips, too, because Commodore certainly wasn't going to sell them to clone manufacturers. Maybe you could have cloned the ST (I think part of the system software, GEM-DOS, came from DRI and I don't think there was anything spectacular about the hardware). Nonetheless, in this sense (the business aspect of the computer) PC's of today have very little in common with Macs and Amigas.
  • User testing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tgibbs (83782) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:15AM (#8099739)
    The difference is that Apple actually tested out their user-interface features on users, rather relying up some designer's theoretical notions. This led to crucial insights like, "it's much faster to access a menu bar that's always at the top of the screen, rather than one that's at the top of a window." Like many aspects of human engineering, this is the sort of thing that seems counter-intuitive, because at first thought it seems more logical to associate the menu with the thing that it affects.
  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:21AM (#8099830) Journal

    How do I create a new document after closing the last one, without having to relaunch the entire application? With a menu stored entirely within a window, you can't... unless your application displays windows within other windows. Under the Human Interface Guidelines, this isn't an issue. The app continues running until the user decides to kill it himself. As applications get bigger over time, so does their load time.

    Actually this is something that caused me trouble on MacOS - I kept feeling that when I'd closed all the application's windows, and it was no longer visible, that the application should have closed. Instead I had to remember to manually exit them. Maybe waiting a second for an application to load is annoying, but no more so than an application unnecessarily consuming resources, and I find it preferable to not have to make it quit myself, which would usually take more time than reloading the application (and indeed, it seems to go against Apple's philosophy of "doing things for the user whether they ask to or not").

    Alternatively, the method of having a "main" window that remains open when all the document windows have closed works okay, and gives you a clear visual sign that the application is still running.

    Still, I agree that menus at the top of the screen is much better for various reasons (the Amiga did one better on menus, in that you could keep the menu open with the right mouse button whilst you could select - or unselect - multiple items with the left button, instead of having to open the menu several times).

  • Re:Nostalgic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unother (712929) <myself&kreig,me> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:48PM (#8100911) Homepage

    At the risk of sounding like a troll myself, I wish to publish a quick defence of the "hockey-puck" mouse.

    The problem was ergonomics, and the manner in which most people hold mice, which is not ergonomically sound. The mouse is supposed to be held lightly, not tightly, the thumb on the left and third finger on the right (if right-handed), with the first two fingers resting atop it. When held this way, it works fine. You also find yourself much less at risk of getting "mouse-strain".

    Unfortunately, many people hold a mouse in a sort of "death-grip". The end result are those monstrosities that Microsoft comes out with (I like to call them WarMice) which are only comfortable when held in said manner! I believe Apple was trying to gently "re-train" people to hold the mouse in an ergonomically correct fashion. Unfortunately, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks."

    As a point of demonstration, I've never had a problem with those mice--but that's if, and only if, they are held in the manner I just illustrated. Try the "death-grip" approach and, well, you'll find yourself frustrated. [N.B.: Apple included "dimples" on the sides of the mouse as tactile feedback for this, as well.]

  • by This is outrageous! (745631) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:03PM (#8101068)
    Fitt's law be damned, in a windowing GUI, a window defines the territory of a program, and that's where everything should fit.

    That's exactly what the Mac does, once you understand that part of that window (viz. the menu bar) is conveniently placed at the top of the screen. What they did, you see, is go past your preconception that a "window" has to be connected. [wolfram.com]

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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