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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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  • 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?

  • 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 Chris Parrinello (1505) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:58PM (#24771063)

    Ummm... no. OnStar existed before General Magic added speech recognition services to it and Hertzfeld was gone before General Magic started getting into speech recognition applications.

  • Re:25 years of... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:08PM (#24771159)

    Hi AsperFarts

    Apple is one of GCC's biggest contributors. Or maybe you're thinking of WebKit. It's such a significant improvement over khtml that Trolltech will be including it as part of QT and KDE will be using it as well. Too bad more people don't "rip off" FOS

    OS X has a larger marketshare on the desktop (you know, their target audience). But speaking of market cap, VA Linux went from 22 billion to 44 million.

    Your other point is just plain stupid.

  • Re:25 years of... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:14PM (#24771217) Journal
    You miss a couple important factors. While market share is important, also important is the forecast for the market, and the margins on the product sold in the market.

    In terms of expected profits (and hence, expected share value or dividends), who cares if market share is dropping a couple percent a year if the market is growing, say, five percent a year? Or if the margin is increasing likewise?

    Of course, you might be making a valid point, I haven't crunched the numbers on MSFT. But, AFAICT from a quick googling, long-term projections for MS are still very good.
  • by jeblucas (560748) <jeblucas@gmaCOFFEEil.com minus caffeine> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:25PM (#24771423) Homepage Journal
    I had a story posted here [slashdot.org] years ago when the book came out.

    It includes a link to the awesome notebook page [macdevcenter.com] and it's timeless classic, "Memory layout is a bitch."

  • by noidentity (188756) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:30PM (#24771523)
    Folklore.org [folklore.org] is full of great stuff.
  • Re:25 years of... (Score:2, Informative)

    by konohitowa (220547) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:55PM (#24771865) Journal

    If you had invested in MSFT you'd know that their stock has been essentially flat since 2000. Certainly if you were vested back then, selling off during the periodic spikes would help, but ultimately it has been a non-performer for nearly a decade now.

  • 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.
  • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @12:35PM (#24780937) Journal

    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.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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