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Andy Hertzfeld Shares His Thoughts on 25 Years of the Mac 142

Posted by timothy
from the never-forget-your-first-mac dept.
blackbearnh writes "It may make you feel very, very old, but the Macintosh will be turning 25 in January. As we approach this momentous anniversary, O'Reilly News had a talk with Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original Macintosh designers, about the long and storied history of the Mac. Hertzfeld, who tells the story of the Mac in his book A Revolution in the Valley, shares his thoughts about how the Mac has aged over time, how life might have been different if Steve Jobs had stayed on at Apple, and the differences between working for Apple, and for Google (his current employer.)" Read on below for a bit of what Hertzfeld had to say.

"They're very similar in certain ways — essentially both Apple and Google want to rewrite the rulebook; they don't want to do things in conventional ways. They want to come up with a better way — for everything; that's not even just the technology but the work processes, the work environment, everything has to be unique and better, so they're very similar in that way. One of the ways that they're different has to do with essentially trust of employees. Apple is very secretive within the company; people working on Macs don't know anything about the new iPods, et cetera. Google is extremely open within the company; once you're a Google employee you have access to just about every piece of information there is."

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Andy Hertzfeld Shares His Thoughts on 25 Years of the Mac

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  • I'm curious as to why people are still interviewing Mr. Hertzfeld, given that his most recent successful project was the Mac. Even more puzzling is that he continues to be able to raise funds, attract developers, etc., in view of his decades-long track record of failure.

    • I'm curious as to why people are still interviewing Mr. Hertzfeld, given that his most recent successful project was the Mac. Even more puzzling is that he continues to be able to raise funds, attract developers, etc., in view of his decades-long track record of failure.

      I don't know why people give him money, but as for an interview subject, he was a witness to history.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by mpapet (761907)

      Look cowboy, YOU come up with one really great thing that becomes an iconic device/OS/whatever and you too can get interviewed 25 years from now.

      You know, Linux has made it so much easier to do it too. Go ahead. I look forward to seeing it last 25 years.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:43PM (#24770915)

      what are you talking about? The company he co-founded, General Magic, went on to create OnStar. I wouldn't call that a failure.
      Most of his other ventures like Radius and all that weren't failures, but they weren't big-time hits either.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Well he works for Google for one thing.
      And you know that whole Mac thing is a pretty big stuff.

    • by mveloso (325617)

      When you're associated with success, the press just calls you for things..just like sci-fi actors and actresses. Plus, he interviews well.

    • Android will crush you all, it won't have a kill switch. We underestimate the General Magic heritage. It was a pretty cool device, I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who had one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's hard to create a wildly successful product once, let alone twice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      While working at General Magic, I talked to him a few times while he was still working at General Magic and my impression of him is that he is extremely confident and really good at selling himself and his role in the development of the Macintosh. He never struck me as a genius or anything like that. I think he was just the right person in the right place at the right time.

      Unfortunately, he is starting to give off that high school football star 25 years later vibe....

    • by nitroamos (261075)

      I'm curious as to why people are still interviewing Mr. Hertzfeld

      As indicated as your curiosity, even you agree that he has name recognition.

    • by elysiuan (762931)

      He worked at a little company called Eazel don't forget. That company created Nautilus the window manager which replaced sawfish in Gnome and is still used for every default gnome installation out there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Knuckles (8964)

        Nautilus is the Gnome file manager and replaced nothing. You are thinking of Pennington's Metacity which replaced Sawfish. And I thought that Eazel's Nautilus was a tremendous failure, they allegedly burned through $15 million of venture capital and left behind a practically unusable file manager, which took the other contributors years to get into a good state. It's possible that Eazel lost funding too early and that they would have come up with a great tool if just given a year more time, but then I guess

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Knuckles (8964)

          Nautilus is the Gnome file manager and replaced nothing.

          Please quote here the appropriate law about errors in posts that correct errors.

          Nautilus did replace something: Midnight Commander.

          • by Ash-Fox (726320)

            Nautilus did replace something: Midnight Commander.

            Sorry, I'm still using 'mc' and have no interest in nautils as nautils fulfills another completely different function, a graphical file manager for Gnome.

            • by Knuckles (8964)

              The mc that was in Gnome was not the CLI mc. See an early Gnome screenshot here [orbdesigns.com], that's mc's GUI version.

  • More Andy Hertzfeld (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:24PM (#24770727)

    He was the first interview of the very good NerdTV series of 2005.
    http://www.pbs.org/cringely/nerdtv/shows/ [pbs.org]

    Who's got other gems?

  • *makes a-ok sign* It stinks!

    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:28PM (#24770755)

      *makes a-ok sign* It stinks!

      Now begins the moderation war between mac addicts and MST3K fans. *grins evilly, sips iced tea*

      • *makes a-ok sign* It stinks!

        Now begins the moderation war between mac addicts and MST3K fans. *grins evilly, sips iced tea*

        I know! And the hardcore MST3K fans are going to mod him down for not saying: *puts on a white shirt with black font that reads "I'M A VIRGIN" across [youtube.com] the front of it*

        • I know! And the hardcore MST3K fans are going to mod him down for not saying: *puts on a white shirt with black font that reads "I'M A VIRGIN" across the front of it*

          Idiot control now, flying over trout! heh, so many great lines from that episode.
          Huzzah!
          Dark one, supreme being, chief? McLeod!
          Trumpy, you do stupid things!
          It looks just like a potato. What's this, winged potatoes.
          Pod people got no reason to live.

    • by Gizzmonic (412910)

      Trumpy, you can do magic things!

  • Very, very? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ferd_farkle (208662) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:58PM (#24771071)

    "It may make you feel very, very old, but the Macintosh will be turning 25[...]"

    Get the heck off my lawn. And take your fruit machine with you.

    • Man - the mods needs to grow a sense of humor. That was funny.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Daengbo (523424)
      I was just thinking about when my high school computer club went to see the introduction of the Mac and how cool I thought it was (I was mostly using Tandy Model I/III at the time).

      Then I felt very, very old. I think the title is correct.
  • by oldhack (1037484) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:03PM (#24771119)
    Throw us a bone, will ya? Come on, god damn PC history every other day. Give us more of that Netherlands Neanderthal Cow magnet stuff. Those are good.
  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:04PM (#24771123) Homepage Journal
    Apple, Inc is a mature company with products that generate constant profits. Google is new company that has benefited from the fact that few people have more money than they know what to do with, and just need to invest it anything that looks halfway honest, and needs breeds of financial instruments that help hide whether a company is profitable of not. That last statement may sound a bit harsh, but banks, expert in fraudulent financial instruments, were able to create the illusion of profit in what we now know was in fact was not the case.

    We don't know if Google will work in the long run. And in the long run I am thinking AOL. Google's success depends on the advertising market tolerating secretive and random marketize techniques which appear to be abuse of the near monopoly that Google now has in advertising. The success is also dependent on the ability of cheap commodity severs to provide six nines service, externalizing the majority of the cost of content creation to third parties, and externalizing the majority of infrastructure costs to the taxpayer. I am not saying that at some point their house of cards will fall al a AOL, but I am not quite sure how they are going to make money off cloud computing, other than selling personal information collecting from the love letters of their users to third parties.

    All Apple has to do is come up with the next cool thing that people will pay for. This is not a simple thing, but something that Apple has been doing with some success for quite a while. We now see a diversification outside of computers, so, when the Mac OS does become something that is not limited to any machine, and when, by the same rules, MS is not able to limit OEM versions to run only on the machine it was originally shipped with, Apple will be able to enter this brave new work of zero profit computer equipment with new consumer appliances.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by againjj (1132651)

      [Google's] success is also dependent on [...] externalizing the majority of infrastructure costs to the taxpayer.

      Where did that come from? I can not think of anything here that fits. Clearly you are not talking about Google-owned infrastructure like their data centers et.al. Perhaps you mean internet infrastructure, since this was funded in the past by the government. But then, that is true about the electrical/sewer/telephone/etc. infrastructure. At this point, the initial investment has been paid, and none of these are funded by the government. All services are paid for. Google pays well for good Internet co

  • G6 dreams (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gizzmonic (412910) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:08PM (#24771151) Homepage Journal

    So, now that we've got the Cell CPU out the door, do you think we're going to see a G6 soon? The PowerPC line of CPUs has never been so prosperous!

    I doubt that Apple's ditching Intel anytime soon, but since they already have a PPC compatible OS, might they dip their toe back into those waters again?

    • Re:G6 dreams (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ilgaz (86384) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:34PM (#24771579) Homepage

      I don't think so, they have seen their users actually install/run Boot Camp to run Windows on Mac sometimes and believe me, there are lots and lots of people having "Untitled" on their Desktops now :) It is just like you hear how "awful" MS Office is but somehow it always make top Apple software at Amazon. It must be BillG ordering all those copies I guess? ;)

      If Apple was on Cell organisation, you would expect something like Toshiba did. They keep on x86/Windows but they add a Cell processor as a co-processor to do insane things. Also keep in mind there is nothing stopping any company to put a Cell chip to PCI card, contribute to ffmpeg/vlc code and ship a multi platform media accelerator for PCs and Macs.

      It is a sad fact today that x86 stays, at least for Desktop. I can't imagine IBM working with Apple again to provide them POWER6UL (rumoured ultra light). Apple in fact seriously hurt POWER image. They could just say "IBM and Motorola are concentrated on different markets" but they spoke about performance/watt, heat consumption etc. which are ONLY true for PPC line of that huge architecture. They couldn't say "They don't give a heck to our needs" of course :)

      After all of this, it would be really hard to convince developers to re-code for POWER instruction set, Altivec etc. It is a radically different thing. I am speaking about consumer/desktop developers of course, POWER is kinda x86 on enterprise market.

      Can you imagine IBM engineers going mad over "lower than expected fps" on a popular game? That is the issue. Intel and AMD has such people.

      • Re:G6 dreams (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @07:12PM (#24772127) Journal

        OS X currently supports three instruction sets; x86, PowerPC and ARM. Most software can use any with a straight recompile (the decision to use UIKit instead of AppKit on their ARM-based platforms makes porting GUI apps slightly harder, but this is orthogonal to the question of the CPU). Very little code directly depends on things like AltiVec or SSE. Code that does, often uses libraries for common algorithms (FFT, and so on) which just uses the correct code for the current platform. Other code uses generic vector support in GCC and LLVM, which is compiled to whatever instructions the host architecture supports.

        I wouldn't be surprised if PowerPC surfaces again at some point in the future. Freescale, in particular, make some very cheap parts that would make sense in successors to the AppleTV.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ilgaz (86384)

          You know what? If some stuff takes off such as ultra-ultra light devices which can perform as a laptop with comical power needs, they are always powered by FreeScale chips. As Apple policy/ideology is OS X should only run on Apple hardware, what does it mean?

          Perhaps MS keeps their PowerPC Windows maintained just in case? It wouldn't be surprise. If you look at Windows NT history, they had to deal with that horrible Intel RISC chip so they won't accidentally code x86 specific code in any case. MS still keeps

      • You make good points, however one of them really isn't valid (assuming developers are using the tools provided to them by Apple).

        After all of this, it would be really hard to convince developers to re-code for POWER instruction set, Altivec etc. It is a radically different thing

        The reason being that 1) most devs using Cocoa are shipping Universal Binary (ies) already (that's anecdotal based upon what I've seen - I don't have an actual reference for that), and 2) CoreImage and its ilk abstract the GPU and SI

  • by burnitdown (1076427) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:08PM (#24771161) Homepage Journal

    It was probably the decision to openly license it. The Mac--when the Mac came out and for two years thereafter it was at least four or five years ahead of Windows and possibly could have taken the place of Windows if it was openly licensed, but because the Macintosh was restricted to a single member, Apple, it never could become an industry rather than a single platform.

    Highly insightful. The Mac was like the old order, where one company made hardware, OS and software. The PC is part of the new order.

    Maybe this order will change soon with "cloud computing" (sounds like trying to find the diameter of a fart) but I doubt it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Highly insightful. The Mac was like the old order, where one company made hardware, OS and software. The PC is part of the new order.

      Hard to say -- the difference is the Mac competed directly and enthusiastically with the openly licensed ecology. That's a real difference with any "old order" you might be referring to. Also, had they open-licensed they would have probably failed to retain the same polish, and become a pretty footnote like Amiga and Atari.

      And of course this "old order" is what's having a 25th

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        The Mac of 25 years ago is just as much a footnote as the Amiga - the difference is that the Mac trademark is now used to refer to a new different OS X based platform.

        Given that the Amiga and Atari were based on a similar closed "one company makes all" strategy, it's not clear why Apple opening their platform would have made them more like the Amiga and Atari - rather, it would've made them closer to the PC.

        And of course this "old order" is what's having a 25th anniversary here, and doing just fine.

        Althoug

    • by RetiredMidn (441788) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @07:10PM (#24772099) Homepage

      It was probably the decision to openly license it. The Mac--when the Mac came out and for two years thereafter it was at least four or five years ahead of Windows and possibly could have taken the place of Windows if it was openly licensed, but because the Macintosh was restricted to a single member, Apple, it never could become an industry rather than a single platform.

      Highly insightful. The Mac was like the old order, where one company made hardware, OS and software. The PC is part of the new order.

      I disagree with Andy's assessment. The Mac may have been years ahead of Windows, but it's real problem, IMHO, is MS-DOS was already pretty entrenched, and the Mac didn't offer a migration path. I was working for Lotus at the time (working sometimes on the Mac, sometimes on DOS), and we had a pretty large community of 1-2-3 users who would not leave behind their accumulated DOS spreadsheets and what-not for the Mac even if they wanted to.

      • The Mac's real problem was that Apple wasn't IBM. The IBM PC caused a huge increase in desktop computer use, as it legitimized the idea to hordes of business users who thought of computers as "IBM machines". Up until then, corporate use was sparse, often including accountants who bought Apple IIs with their own money to run Visicalc.

        IIRC, the Mac showed up when there were PC clones, but they were thought of as PC clones, not actual PCs in their own right. At one point, I noted that having the blue "IB

  • Jeff Goldblum!

    Man, had to stop reading that interview. Kept hearing Jeff Goldblum answer all the questions, what with the stops and starts.

  • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @07:10PM (#24772103)
    The original Mac team was filed with absolute sheer geniuses. You may not appreciate that fact unless you've read folklore.org or the book form, Revolution in the Valley, since there is the tendency in the popular media not to focus on the technical side of the Mac's creation. The incredible work they did, especially given the paucity of computing resources at their disposal at the time, is truly awe inspiring. And one piece of knowledge you gain through these stories is the fact that the Mac's engineers viewed themselves as far lower in ability as compared to the Woz. If you haven't read these stories yet, you only know a small part of the story of the Mac's creation. This interview should whet your appetite for the rest of the story.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Paradise Pete (33184)

      The original Mac team was filed with absolute sheer geniuses.

      Yes. Things like QuickDraw [wikipedia.org] were amazing. that they managed to accomplish that with such a tiny footprint is just astounding, and is what allowed the Mac to be a Mac while PCs were still running DOS.

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        is what allowed the Mac to be a Mac while PCs were still running DOS.

        Well, note that many computers of the 80s had similar, if not far better graphics systems (e.g., the Amiga) - it was just the PC that stood out as a bad exception, so it's not accurate to say that only QuickDraw could allow a computer to be differentiated from PCs running DOS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sandbags (964742)

      The original Macintosh, as they refer to, I'm assuming was the 128K, released in January 1984, but I (my family) owned a Lisa, which was the same thing, just sideways, in 1983, so I've actually been using macs 25 years already...

      What really makes me feel old is I used to operate an original Apple II, equipped with both processors for compiling, back in 1979. I was but a grade school kid at the time, but we had 11 of them in a manually switched network (litterally, you could turn the dial to select what mac

  • by InterruptDescriptorT (531083) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @08:41PM (#24773277) Homepage
    I just wanted to take a few bytes of badwidth to say that Andy Herzfeld is one of my personal heroes and should be to any creative, true old-school hacker-type programmers/engineers out there. Among other things, he is the father of the desk accessory in the original Mac OS.

    The original Mac had 128K of memory, some 27K of which was used for the screen buffer alone, and although much of the OS was in ROM, it used a significant amount of the available RAM for itself. And this isn't even to mention any currently running application. A Desk Accessory, then, and the ability to invoke it while an application was running (many people forget that the original Mac OS was not multitasking at all), required some pretty incredible feats of programming to make it fit in the tiny amount of memory left. And he found a way to make it work.

    People often speak in awe of how the 512K Amiga did multitasking on its tiny memory budget, and while I also admire that effort (especially having been a Commodore kid from VIC 20 to C64 to Amiga), I still think the original Mac OS represents one of the most incredible feats of software engineering of the early microcomputer era. I get slightly down every so often when I think about how modern developers, including myself, have gigabytes of memory and ultra-fast processors to work with and don't often have to think about the resource consumption of their algorithms/designs. Must have been so cool to work that kind of stuff back there...

    Fawning mode off now...
    • by Weedlekin (836313)

      "People often speak in awe of how the 512K Amiga did multitasking on its tiny memory budget"

      The original Amiga (the 1000) shipped with 256K.

  • 25 years of the Mac (Score:3, Informative)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:02PM (#24773513) Homepage

    "The Mac at 25" makes me think back to when I bought my first mac in 1984. These days I'm on linux. My wife has an aging "iLamp" G4 on her desk, which we're probably going to get rid of soon and switch her to a linux box. But anyway I've continuously had a mac in the house for 24 years now.

    Looking back, I see that time as dividing into three periods:

    1. Early on, it was a revolutionary machine, way ahead of its time. The mouse, the GUI, and desktop publishing were all new. The price was high in 2008 dollars, but so was the price of an MS-DOS machine. It was a fairly open environment; you could buy the manual that described all the APIs ("Inside Mac") very cheaply, in a phone-book format. This was roughly the period of the 68000 cpu.
    2. Then there was a period where it sucked more and more. By the time it got to MacOS 9, I was just finding it to be a completely untenable platform. Cooperative multitasking was a disaster, because it meant that anything that crashed was likely to crash your whole machine -- and the increasing complexity of the system and app software guaranteed that you'd have lots of crashes. There were tons of those little whatchamacallums -- were they called "extensions?" -- the little icons that showed up when you booted the box. The problem was that extensions would conflict or cause crashes. E.g., Adobe PageMaker would crash, and I'd call Adobe and ask if there was any way to avoid the crashes, etc., and they'd blame it on extension conflicts. So then I'd turn off every extension except for the Adobe extensions that were required to run PageMaker, and it would still crash. This was pretty much the PowerPC period. During this time, people would complain that macs were overpriced compared to PCs. That was kind of right and kind of wrong. It was wrong because it was an apples-to-oranges comparison. Macs came with lots of free hardware goodies, like sound I/O, that cheap PCs didn't. On the other hand, it was right, because if you didn't have the money for a Mac, you just didn't have a choice -- you were going to get a low-end PC, which was cheaper.
    3. The third era is MacOS X. The big issue now is that low-end PCs can do everything I need, and low-end PCs are insanely cheap, so why buy a mac? E.g., if you price out a Dell PC with linux preinstalled, and omit the monitor, it's $249 for a dual-core 2 GHz, 2 Gb RAM, 250 Gb hd. The stereotype that was bogus in period #2 -- that macs were for people with too much money on their hands -- is really true now. It also really rankles me, as an early adopted of OS X, to think of how many of those $130 dot-upgrades I paid for, for several machines. One of the reasons we're dumping our last mac is that we stopped paying for the OS upgrades, which means the system is getting too old to get security updates, and new software (e.g., ff3) doesn't run.
    • if you price out a Dell PC with linux preinstalled, and omit the monitor, it's $249 for a dual-core 2 GHz, 2 Gb RAM, 250 Gb hd. The stereotype that was bogus in period #2 -- that macs were for people with too much money on their hands -- is really true now.

      I don't know what you were looking at, but this is the cheapest I could find on dell.com. I think a dual core 2GHz proc is $150 to $200 by itself. :P Also, both have a bunch of USB ports, I just looked for differences,
      Nothing's changed, it's still apples to oranges. Just as you might not have needed built in sound then, you may not need FW, BT, dig audio, wireless net, IR remote, stack of dvds form factor now.

      The third era is MacOS X. The big issue now is that low-end PCs can do everything I need

      If you look at the growth rate of the PC over the last 20 years, this was/is true for the majo

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Nothing's changed, it's still apples to oranges. Just as you might not have needed built in sound then, you may not need FW, BT, dig audio, wireless net, IR remote, stack of dvds form factor now.

        I find Macs more expensive, hell, just look at my current laptop:

        My HP DV6000 widescreen laptop which came with 2GB RAM, built in webcam, nvidia graphics card with 512MB dedicated RAM with all the essentials including wireless, bluetooth. Has HDMI, a built in SD card reader, remote control. It came with Vista, but I

        • The specs of Mac models shift over time, just as they do with PC's.

          Try another retail outlet, some carry older Mac models at much better prices. Same goes for PC vendors that sell direct, retail will often carry older models. Much like car dealers still carry NEW 06's.
          The big difference between Macs and PCs here are the Mac prices hold up a bit longer. Major design changes might skew that a little though.
          Nothing beats the price of a used PC!

          Anyway, that thing doesn't run Mac OS X, and that's really a maj

      • by bcrowell (177657)

        Thanks, that's a very informative post!

        I don't know what you were looking at, but this is the cheapest I could find on dell.com.

        This was last week, with a discount advertised on their web site. Maybe it's not available now.

        Nothing's changed, it's still apples to oranges. Just as you might not have needed built in sound then, you may not need FW, BT, dig audio, wireless net, IR remote, stack of dvds form factor now.

        Sure, that's a valid point. The fact is that I personally don't want or need a single t

      • by ivan256 (17499)

        I'd rather have the mini over the dell just from the difference between the slow-ass Celeron 440 and the Core 2 Duo with twice the cores and 4x the cache...

        Of course, you can probably upgrade the Dell to the better processor for less than the $300 price difference between the two machines. At the end of the day you're paying for the form-factor.

        Which leads me to the question I always end up asking. Why doesn't Apple offer low-end machines, in larger, less-expensive form factors? (They'd get bonus-points if

    • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:51AM (#24777867)

      Early on, it was a revolutionary machine, way ahead of its time. The mouse, the GUI, and desktop publishing were all new. The price was high in 2008 dollars, but so was the price of an MS-DOS machine. It was a fairly open environment; you could buy the manual that described all the APIs ("Inside Mac") very cheaply, in a phone-book format. This was roughly the period of the 68000 cpu.

      Honestly, you compare a Amiga to the Apple systems and Apple really cannot be compared with Amiga systems, at all. I don't think the Apple was way ahead of it's time, the GUI, publishing, while it was all new, it was all done far better by the Amiga.

      I still remember when Apple switched to the Power PC platform and the Amigas were still outdoing the machines in 3d graphics etc. with it's old m68k processor and custom chips.

      I have not been impressed by Apple over the years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oblivionboy (181090)

      The third era is MacOS X. The big issue now is that low-end PCs can do everything I need, and low-end PCs are insanely cheap, so why buy a mac?

      Uuhh...because I want to?

      I've noticed on /. that there are people who like linux, and people who like Mac. And the reasons for this are different and have changed over time. I've used ubuntu, and even found recently the two floppy disks I used to install Linux 0.11 on -- well boot up anyways. In those days getting it to install on a hard drive was a real days work.

      I

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I appreciate that building the Mac was a big thing in Hertzfeld's life. To not mention it in an interview would be like interviewing Churchill and not mentioning the war. But what about the pioneering and extraordinary work at General Magic? Those guys saw the future and tried to create technology to bring it to the public, but somehow they got it completely and entirely wrong. I find it astonishing that most of what General Magic came up with died on the spot, and hasn't trickled through to modern devices,

  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:02AM (#24778757)
    The key player that "saved the Mac" was Steve hiring Tevanian from CMU who understood modern software technology and software engineering (originally for NeXT). Andy's group did a great job for its time. And the Xerox PARC crowd, while making brilliant inventions, did not how to engineer something durable for the market (all PARC commercial software failed). But the early Mac code was pretty "cowboy" and brittle. Apple was desperately shopping for a "workstation generation" operating system in the late 1990s, considering where to go with Sun, BeOS or NeXT. All three would have been good choices from a technology point of view, but they got Steve back with #3.
    • by gwait (179005)

      The Xerox people were forced by management to let Apple, Sun, Microsoft etc come in and see full demos without any non disclosures, probably little or no patent protection.
      In short Xerox management gave away the farm.

      Xerox could easily have been the Microsoft success story but stayed firmly entrenched in the expensive printer/copier business.

      Probably not fair to blame the engineers who invented mice/windowing/network printing/fileshareing etc. for the complete lack of brains in Xerox management.

    • by DECS (891519) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:01PM (#24782327) Homepage Journal

      Tevanian and the rest of NeXT's engineers did fantastic technical work, but NeXT didn't go anywhere until it was grafted on top of Apple in 1997.

      Apple desperately needed a technology infusion, but NeXT's technology wasn't ready for deployment at Apple in a way the market could embrace until 2002.

      It was Jobs who turned Apple and the Mac around in the interim, from 1997 to 2002, by taking Apple's System 7 and turning it into a product people would buy: the iMac, new Powerbooks, flashy new Macs with a strong brand rather than a confusing array of white boxes with Sony-like model numbers.

      It's a disappointing reality that technology, like art, can't sustain itself. It needs marketing and merchandizing. Without Jobs, Apple would have quickly become another dead technology portfolio just like Amiga, OS/2, Taligent, etc. If technology itself sold products, Linux on the desktop would be whipping Windows and the Newton would have taken off. Technology needs to be made accessible, and Jobs has has a spectacular career at doing just that, despite lacking, as Hertzfeld notes in the interview, the technical expertise of his engineers.

      If Apple had instead bought Be or teamed up with Sun, it would have been as successful as Be was at Palm or as OpenStep had been in Sun. That is: zero. A phenomenal amount of technical work performed for nothing because nobody there knew how to productize it.

      The Inside Deets on iPhone 2.0.2 and Dropped Calls [roughlydrafted.com]

  • by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @01:10PM (#24781487)

    Apple is very secretive within the company; people working on Macs don't know anything about the new iPods, et cetera. Google is extremely open within the company; once you're a Google employee you have access to just about every piece of information there is.

    Well, Google is, after all, the company that wants to make all information transparent and available to everyone. Apple, on the other hand, is an often-imitated company that must get its product to market before someone else gets a mimicked product out there. Once its on the market, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if something like that shows up earlier, it pisses Apple off.

  • by dougsha (247714)
    Twenty-five years, dang. That went fast. I wrote my first commercial game on the Mac in '84 - ChipWits - and remember the feeling of being dazzled again and again by all the neat goodies in the Mac OS. Especially resources - when I discovered how to store bitmaps as resources I thought I'd gone to developer heaven. Developing on the Mac that first year was like a treasure hunt because the doc was poor and communicating with other developers was difficult. Most Mac developers wrote their software on a Lisa

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