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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:03PM (#24771117)

    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....

  • 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.

  • 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:Very, very? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @11:36PM (#24774751) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Re:G6 dreams (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @12:13AM (#24774989) Homepage

    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)

    In contrast, it seems game developers have been using Cider [transgaming.com] quite a bit lately. This makes porting from Windows much easier, but the games will be Intel-only.

  • by jhrizz (756221) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @01:00AM (#24775281) Homepage
    There is quite a lot of him in the documentary I am working on called Welcome to Macintosh - http://www.welcometomacintosh.com/ [welcometomacintosh.com] He spoke with us for a couple of hours about the personal computer revolution, his time at Apple, open source, all kinds of things my girlfriend finds much less interesting than I do. Luckily we are going to put most of his interview on the DVD as extras. Once you start listening to him tell a story it's hard to stop.
  • by Douglas Goodall (992917) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @01:04AM (#24775317) Homepage
    He is the one who cost me $35000 when he witheld the LISA Development system to keep me from porting a popular app. He is a creepy guy with an ego bigger than the universe. The last thing he did that I know of was working on copy protection for Apple ][ floppies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:08AM (#24775609)

    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, yet the world they envisioned is here right now.

    And then there's Eazel. Hertzfeld was one of those who invented Nautilus. It's changed beyond all recognition since then. How does Hertzfeld feel about it? He obviously had faith in open source. Why?

    These are the things I want to hear the great man talking about!

  • by Knuckles (8964) <`gro.naitnad' `ta' `selkcunk'> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:53AM (#24776729)

    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 they should have used the 15 million better than they apparently did.

  • by Douglas Goodall (992917) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @12:17PM (#24780639) Homepage
    I was mad at the time because it would have been a six month project, and meant a lot to me. It was my first experience with a computer manufacturer deciding what third party software would be allowed on their system. The software being ported was John Draper's Easywriter and Andy was pissed at John about something, and I was collateral damage.
  • 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 Sandbags (964742) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:26PM (#24782699) Journal

    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 machine accessed the drive, it clicked automatically a few times a second if it didn't detect a token) connected to a single drive, which I think was an 800K hard disk if I remember...

    We've owned a IIc, IIGS, lisa, 128K, 512ke, Classic, SE/30, SE/40, Quadra 610 and 630, LCII (added the 2nd processor to that one for virtualizing i386), MacII SE, Mac II CX, Quadra 9500, a power computing clone, G3 toewr, G4 tower, original 233 iMac and a 333 model, a cube, an iMac G4, G5, Intel iMac, a white iBook, a G4 powerbook, a MacBook Pro 15", a mini, and an appleTV. Just waiting for the new line to come out and I'll grab a new notebook and desktop. That will put our family over 30 Apple machines in less than 30 years.. Wow!

    In the same time, I've had an IBM PS/2 (8088?), a Tandy1000, a DX4/100 clone (overclocked to 133 beating the pentiums at the time for less money), a PIII333, AMD700, AMD64/2800, and now a CoreII Duo 6500, or and an older Thinkpad, early pentium, was mized in there somewhere...

    Sad, since I lived within 20 miuntes of IBM's HQ in Armonk, NY for most of that last 30 years... PCs are necessary for my line of work, but I've allways loved and allways will have an Apple.

  • by dougsha (247714) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:00PM (#24783167) Homepage
    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 but I was too poor for that so I used the native MacFORTH. Andy H was one of the stars of the Mac world. His Switcher, which allowed multiple programs to run (sort of), was a neat hack.

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