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History Repeats Itself — Mac & the iPad 514

Keith found an interesting story telling a bit about how Steve Jobs operates. It involves small teams of young engineers willing to work 90-hour weeks in total secrecy, and a complete willingness to throw away bad ideas without flowery language. The iPad is surprisingly similar to the Mac."
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History Repeats Itself — Mac & the iPad

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  • First Post? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ornlu ( 1706502 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:36AM (#31909110)
    Does that mean it's about as useful as a BOAT ANCHOR!?
    • Re:First Post? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:38AM (#31909130) Homepage

      The iPad definitely has its's just a really pointless place, in my opinion.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:55AM (#31909350)

      A giant customized Starbucks in Cupertino California where lattes and no soy skim macchiatos are given out free to all employees. The background music involves a playlist of Nora Jones, David Matthews, John Mayer, and Bono on loop from an Ipod docked somewhere in the Apple/Starbucks facility. Hours are long but morale is surprising high as developers, hardware and software, are given 30 minute breaks to masturbate to the new itunes interface.

      All developers sit at cafe type tables with a Mac Book Pro while their lord and master Steve Jobs stands deskless in his predictable attire of a turtleneck and jeans. In fact, this is the preferred (mandatory) dress code at Apple. Jobs walks around to each and every department, separated by latte and vegan preferences, and checks on the performance and efficiency of his developers. At any given point in the day one may see Mr Jobs yelling at a programmer for not implementing a button in the perfect shade of corn flower blue (#6495ED) and immediately sends him to the apple punitive chamber, consisting of a HP Compaq running Vista Basic.

      There are 2 software development departments and 2 hardware development sections in Apple. For software there is the Apple core team, Apple Open Source team. In hardware there is the Apple systems and management team and the iDevice team. Since the OSX kernel consists of a BSD darwin kernel there is no real need for low level programmers and as such the entirety of the Apple core team consists of UI designers and photoshop junkies. All software churned out from the core team is designed in a program strikingly similar to Visual Studio's form designer but with Cocoa Objective C generated instead. The 16 hour day (Jobs demands 16 hour days since he himself never sleeps) of a core dev involves lining up the right shade of chrome with the latest photoshopped graphite button and maintaining the correct color scheme, not an easy job at all.

      The Apple open source team involves a little bit more coding, which is mandated to be done in TextEdit or the option of a $80 third party mac text editor. The Apple open source team doesn't actually create much code but searches the internet for interesting BSD licensed software and modifies it as it's own through obfuscation and conversion to objective C. Many of the items a mac user sees comes from the open source world stamped by apple such as the ability to play music taken from 67 different originally linux based players, CD burning, and the overall ability to click a mouse. Apple's legal department has no qualms about this practice and has assured many that since most of the code is BSD and if any is GPLed many Linux hippies should be grateful that Apple fostered WebKit by using KHTML and adding some Gecko bloat. Perhaps one of the most important items that the open source team has done to date is use parts of the FreeBSD to keep the kernel up to date.

      There's not much to say about the Apple systems and management team. I suppose they can be classified in to desktop and laptop systems. Because hardware work is beneath Apple in general and thought of being only worthy of Windows Users and as such can be found working on these beauties in the starbucks bathroom. Desktops are currently made by buying dell machines and putting them in Lian Li cases, where the majority of the costs goes to buying titanium Apple emblems to paste on the sides. Laptops consists of the rebranding of only the most silver and black Sony Viaos but talk has been going around about rebranding Asus EeePCs for a new Apple netbook but you didn't hear that from me, for fear of my life.

      The iDevice team's job is to develop for the ipod, iphone, itouch, and many other portable electronics apple may release in the future. Their jobs are very interconnected with the open source team as well as the core dev team. Using firmware from random samsung devices and giving it an OSX skin the ipod stands as a shining example that infringement only applies to greasy file sharers and that the music player remains the best in market

    • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:51AM (#31910202)
      For anyone who doesn't know what is meant by a boat anchor then watch Hunter Cressell's highly amusing (and still the best) Mac parody: []

      A lot of it is outdated, but stuff like the filesystem stuff is still true. That always makes me laugh as I had to do it many years ago: "You run to the store to buy the Mac version of Norton Utilities, you run back only for Norton to go 'You idiot! You own a Macintosh! The file is fucking gone!'"
  • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:37AM (#31909114) Homepage Journal

    I think Grossman gets it right in the last paragraph of his Time article [].

    • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:46AM (#31909222)
      The iPad has everything that any other computer who is to say that it is not a computer? Apple can market it as a "media device" all they want, but if people want to use their iPads in other ways, they should be allowed to do so. Nobody, not Apple, and certainly not Steve Jobs, should be dictating what people are allowed to use their iPads for (except perhaps as a deadly weapon).

      The iPad does not need to "mute" anyone, as the Time article puts it. Apple is dictating that it should, because of their desire to do business with book publishers.
      • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:52AM (#31909306)

        Is Apple supposed to make it easy for you to do anything you want with the device?

        If you really want to run any program, just "jailbreak" it or sign up as a developer and you can install whatever app you please.

        • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:59AM (#31909428)
          "Is Apple supposed to make it easy for you to do anything you want with the device?"

          If the definition of "making it easy" is "not imposing deliberate technical limitations that have no purpose other than restricting the user," then yes, Apple should be "making it easy." I am not saying that Apple needs to post guides or do anything to promote the use of the device in a manner that they do not "approve" of, but it is wrong for them to actively work to prevent people from using the iPad in "unapproved" ways.
        • by mrsteveman1 ( 1010381 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:09AM (#31909574)

          If you really want to run any program, just "jailbreak" it or sign up as a developer and you can install whatever app you please.

          I have a dev cert and so far as i can tell you can only run apps as the OS intends them to be run, you can't actually alter anything else on the OS without jailbreaking. Many people don't want to run apps that Apple won't allow, they want to FIX the operating system in ways Apple refuses to do, for instance the pathetic Mail sound no one can actually hear, jailbreakers replace that with something louder quite often.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:53AM (#31909320)

        The iPad has everything that any other computer has...

        You mean like USB ports, the ability to create and run your own software, the ability to chose your own OS, the freedom to download software from anywhere you chose, Flash support, the ability to export and import files at will, etc.?

        • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:41AM (#31910064)

          I think its funny when Flash is used as some kind of example of freedom/openness in a platform. AFAICT, Flash is used solely to create hard-to-navigate web sites, annoying banner ads and obfuscating video to make it hard/impossible to download. Where's the freedom in that?

          It reminds me of a person complaining that because they can't sign away their rights they're not free.

          I'll grant you the lack of USB ports but only as a means of accessing external storage. As a portable device, it'd be nice to see the iPad support removable storage, even if that removable storage was restricted to some kind of iPad-only blob format you could only create in iTunes.

          64 gigs of flash memory is nothing if you want any kind of video and audio storage.

    • by Interoperable ( 1651953 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:01AM (#31909468)

      I agree with that, but I think that the negative spin, saying that the iPad robs the user of the ability to crate content, is unjustified. The iPad is built to be a device to access content on the move. The iMac and MacBooks are strongly oriented towards content creation. Why bother complaining when a device does exactly what it is intended to do and does it well? (I choose to complain about the price and lack of flexibility that surrounds The Church of Jobs instead.)

    • by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:15AM (#31909666)

      If I have a beef with the iPad, it's that while it's a lovely device for consuming content, it doesn't do much to facilitate its creation.

      Yes, Grossman does get it right. That is my disappointment too. The iPad is all about consuming content, being a consumer. It is unlike a PC which can be used to create content. The iPad is a passive device.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:38AM (#31909124)

    "a tiny group of intensely-focussed young people working in extreme secrecy . . . sets them to work for '90 hours a week and loving it.'"

    You mean like a cult?

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:50AM (#31909264) Journal
      When burned out all they get a non-compete clause and a life of poverty.
      With a cult you get the reality of a UFO, a real boarding pass and the applesauce works for everybody.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:08AM (#31909566)

        I dunno about the burnout part. You're assuming (at least I think you are) that the 90 hour weeks continue on in perpetuity. At my current job, we moved locations. Built everything and I do mean everything from the ground up. (I'm a network/security/voip guy by trade) Our data center had nothing in it. ACs, UPS, all the racks, the frigging floor needed paint, everything was done by 3 of us. Towards the end of the move, we worked in excess of 200 hours over the final 2 week period, and for several months leading up to that point we were averaging 12-14 hours days 6 days a week. After the move was completed and everything was running ok, we rotated off the clock for some well earned rest (paid comp time) for several weeks, and a very nice maxed out MacBook Pro for our efforts.

        A death march? Nah. Just the type of thing you do when you work for a small company and enjoy what you're doing.

        So I would take the other stance, but that's because I'm naive, as I'm sure someone will point out. During the cycle for this product, they work a butt-ton (not quite a metric ass-ton) of hours, but then receive some sort of compensation be it monetary or time off for their efforts. If they don't, then they have every right to sue the company since they're more than likely in Cupertino and California tends to frown on things like that.

    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:05AM (#31909526) Homepage

      "a tiny group of intensely-focussed young people working in extreme secrecy . . . sets them to work for '90 hours a week and loving it.'"

      You mean like a cult?

      "like" seems somewhat redundant.

    • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:05AM (#31909530)
      Exactly, just like Google.
    • by bsandersen ( 835481 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:58AM (#31910298) Homepage
      "You mean like a cult?" No. Like a start-up. There are engineers who thirst to make a very cool thing, something they can look back upon with pride and the knowledge that "I did that." It isn't about the money (though thinking about the potentially big payday helps keep you going when things get tough or weird); it is about the chance for that sense of accomplishment. I never had an opportunity to work on something as cool as the iPad. I wish I had. Most of us will work 40+ years and never have the sense of triumph that the iPad team now enjoys.
  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:40AM (#31909154)

    Small teams of young engineers willing to work 90 hour weeks in total secrecy, and a complete willingness to throw away bad ideas without flowery language.

    How small? How young?

    I'm sure a nice chunk of R+D projects fall under a pattern defined by:

    "Some engineers willing to work a lot, secretly, with a boss."

  • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:41AM (#31909162)
    That the state of consumer technology has caught up to Steve's ambition. Could it be that we are on now finally able to realize the 'magical' devices that Steve has had knocking around in his head these past few decades? Perhaps. Or maybe Steve is just a really lucky guy. ---or he is just a genius.
  • flame suit on... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:42AM (#31909170)
    From TFA: "It was Steve's vision that if you made every single computer with the same exact OS and the same amount of memory, developers would always have a fixed platform for which to develop, making their jobs easier."

    I've always been of the opinion that this is one the 'advantages' of the dominance of Windows. If you're a small development house cranking out applications, you only need to make a Windows version and you've got a big chunk of the market - The dominance of windows makes "the job easier."
    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:31AM (#31909928) Homepage Journal

      If you're a small development house cranking out applications, you only need to make a Windows version and you've got a big chunk of the market

      Until you run into hardware issues. Hardware issues for Windows and Linux applications fall into at least two categories:

      • Driver issues. Your application may exercise parts of a hardware driver that have been implemented defectively (causing crashes and data loss) or far less inefficiently than on your development machine (causing poor response times). This happens especially often to programs that use Direct3D or OpenGL.
      • System requirements issues. Your application may require a faster CPU, larger memory, or faster GPU than your end users already own, and your end users don't understand A. how to upgrade without buying , or B. how to buy the right hardware for your application.

      Apple hardware tends to have fewer driver issues because the hardware is fairly consistent even across the Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook lines. You also know what minimum level of CPU, GPU, and RAM to expect from a "2007 Mac" and an end user can understand this.

  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:42AM (#31909172)

    Let's conveniently leave out any mention of OS 9, NeXT Step, and the fact that for a while it looked like Apple was going the way of the Dodo.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:58AM (#31909402)
      And, of course, let's not forget the greatest example of Jobs' clever vision, the Apple Lisa []. And, lest we forget, more modern successes like the revolutionary AppleTV []. I don't begrudge the author his respect for Jobs and his successes, but you're right, this guy seriously whitewashes over the many times where Jobs' smug "vision" has failed miserably.
      • by iroll ( 717924 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:31AM (#31909918) Homepage

        ...except that Jobs was forced out of the Lisa project long before it was finished, which resulted in his takeover of the Macintosh as his personal fief. So no, Lisa isn't a good example at all.

        I can't say anything about the Apple TV, but there's plenty of history about the Lisa and Macintosh available online. You should consider reading some of it; it's an interesting story.

      • by StuartHankins ( 1020819 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:33AM (#31910956)
        To have success requires failure at some point -- you must have that experience or your success isn't complete. As a company, Apple picked themselves up and regrouped from failures, eventually releasing some stellar hits such as OS X, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and now the iPad. Don't forget along the way they picked up and helped a lot of other projects including CUPS.

        In many of these cases -- the Newton for example -- Apple was simply too far ahead of its time. It took decades for customers to understand why these products were needed and to be sophisticated enough to want them.

        There are other companies whose stock has been in doldrums for years, who haven't yet figured out that their business model can't continue forever and rely on upgrades instead of innovation for the majority of their income. Those other companies will be in for a rude surprise by the time the dust settles because they DON'T realize they're in trouble -- they believe they're succeeding so they can't fix the problem.
      • by zioncat ( 632849 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:11PM (#31912524)
        Why do people keep citing Apple TV as an example of failed Apple product? I know it hasn't been a runaway success like iPod and iPhone but Apple TV is estimated to have sold 8 million units [] since its launch in March 2007. Compare that to a "successful" product like Kindle which have sold an estimated 3 million units [] since its launch in November 2007. What am I missing?
    • by cabjf ( 710106 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:17AM (#31909698)
      I'm not sure you're making the argument you think you are. OS 9 was an unavoidable step on the way to creating OS X; Apple had to release something while all that work was going on behind the scenes. NeXT was formed with a small group of hand picked individuals that Steve put together. Steve had nothing to do with what Apple did from the mid 80s to the mid 90s. So we have one thing that was probably not a high priority project for Steve, another that actually supports the premise of the article, and a situation that had nothing to do with Steve.
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:44AM (#31909198)

    Those guys started a religion.

    Hey, come to think of it, so did Jobs...

  • The Mac? (Score:4, Funny)

    by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:51AM (#31909278)

    No, no, no...

    You went one generation too far.

    The iPad is surprisingly similar to the Lisa.

  • by derinax ( 93566 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:51AM (#31909282)

    The fact that Company X makes a closed system is nothing new, nor is it noteworthy. Closed systems are a dime a dozen.

    What the blogs are on fire about, and what we ALL should be worried about, is a closed developer ecosystem. It's Apple's new focus, and if it's allowed to propagate to the open platform we're all screwed.

    • Closed systems are a dime a dozen.

      While I dislike Apple as a company, let's be fair. Not only are their products quite good (from both a technical and aesthetic standpoint), but they're able to continually change their game. Of the big companies out there, they're the only ones doing truly "different" things during the depression.

      Oh, as for "dime a dozen"... seriously? There are how many open systems out there? Debian, Fedora, RedHat, CentOS, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, OpenSolaris - and all their derivatives. Maybe if you were talking hardware, I'd understand, but c'mon: that, if anything, differentiates Apple from the pack.

      - Caimlas (I would never buy their products)

      • by derinax ( 93566 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:13AM (#31909648)

        The end does not justify the means. Anything that restricts developer and user freedom in a mass-market channel should be argued against.

        And anything NOT open source can be considered a "closed system". Windows is a closed system. What Apple did was to extend the closure to the developer channel, such that it provides a single, monolithic, commercial gateway to the system, which has been very rare in the industry. Not even Microsoft at their most abusive would have attempted that kind of developer lockout.

  • by WillAdams ( 45638 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:57AM (#31909374) Homepage

    For content creation:

      - an ePub authoring program (given v1's execrable html export I'd like to see someone other than Apple create this)

      - AppleScript Studio --- let's take HyperCard to the next level and let's use computers as more than glorified memory typewriters

      - both of the above could be merged into a tool to create iTunes LP format files for eBooks w/ interactivity

      - ArtRage / Autodesk Sketchbook / Corel Painter (and a stylus)

      - FutureWave SmartSketch (the program now known as Flash was originally a vector drawing program written for Go Corporation's PenPoint) or some other vector drawing program suited for use w/ just a stylus

      - Infty Reader or some other sort of handwriting recognition software which encompasses not just multiple languages but also mathematical equations (naturally this too needs a stylus)

      - a free-form database / spreadsheet which can be queried in a graphical fashion and have formulas calculated from it, where they formulas are natural expressions --- something like Lotus Improv plus sBook5

    But above all, the option of a stylus --- we're no longer Pythagoras reduced to drawing figures in the sand w/ our fingers --- people are the tool using animal, let's provide the most natural possible tool for drawing, writing and calculating.


  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @08:57AM (#31909382) Journal

    Anyone who thinks the lost 4G iPhone was an accident is fooling themselves. Talk about a free marketing windfall.

  • For those that didn't RTFA, this paragraph, on the small team approach, is golden:

    It is this small-team approach that, of necessity, results in important capabilities being left out of the first release. The payoff, though, is that Steve ends up with a central core of perfectly-integrated functionality instead of a rambling labyrinth of disjointed “features.” This design framework is so well conceived that it can be built upon for years, even decades, without being stripped out and restarted. Compare that with the history of Windows, with false start after false start, resulting in their repeatedly beginning design anew.

  • by sammyF70 ( 1154563 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:01AM (#31909464) Homepage Journal
    ... that Apple released a tablet called the iPad, which is white, has mutitouch and runs iPhoneOS, and just move on? In the meantime, Endgadget received a JooJoo board [] and made a quick video preview of it, there were news about the Notion Ink Adams [] (along with a nice video too), the HP Slate [], the Gemini [], and probably a slew of other tablets nobody even heard of, because they were drowned by the Big Apple Marketing Monster.
  • by rwade ( 131726 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:10AM (#31909602)

    From the article:

    Word on the street is that Google has already powered up its copiers, and will be chunking out an iPad clone.

    This characterization of google as "chunking out" clones is unfair. Google is going to enter the pad computer market with its own line of products; if anyone that enters a device market is cloning, the 99% of the tech business is engaged in "cloning."

  • They were willing to throw away bad ideas, but kept the name iPad? What names did they throw away that were worse? iColonoscopyBag?

  • by Jeff1946 ( 944062 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:13AM (#31909640) Journal

    Read Soul of a New Machine about a team at Data General developing a computer to compete with the brand new VAX computer. Similar stategy of getting group of young engineers to work long hours on a project. Personally I think Job's genius is producing a product when the technology is ready that really appeals to people. He also has the dictatorial power to push back the release date if he feels that some aspect of the product is unacceptable to him and must be changed.

    Finally one quirk of his design for the Mac that I dislike is the one button mouse. I much prefer the way the two button mouse use has evolved for most Windows stuff namely right button=show options and left button=perform something.

  • iPad has it's niche (Score:4, Interesting)

    by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:20AM (#31909756) Journal

    You can knock it all you want, but there's a niche for the iPad. It's ideal for people like my wife. She likes knitting in her recliner while watching TV. Every once in a while, she will need to look up a certain stitch that she's not familiar with. So she has to put up knitting out of reach of the dogs (they like yarn too), leave the room and look it up on the computer. That means if I'm using the computer, I need to get up so she can poke around for a few minutes trying to find a good illustration or video demonstrating the stitch. In most instances not a big deal since I can usually stop what I'm working on, be it coding, editing video or paying bills & balancing the checkbook. Every once in a while it will be when I'm playing WoW and I'll be in a group, so it can be a pain in the neck because it inconveniences more than just me.

    In our situation, the iPad would be perfect for her. If she needs to look up a stitch, she could just set her yarn & needles in her lap and look the stitch up on the iPad. If there's something on the news and she wants to look it up, check the weather, check her mail, check her Facebook, etc., she doesn't need to go through the whole rigamarole of stowing her knitting and then switching user accounts on the computer, etc. It's not that she can't do these things on the computer in the other room, but it would be so much more convenient for her to be able to check it from where she's sitting.

  • by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:26AM (#31910814)

    Uh, you guys do know who Bruce Tognazzini is, right? Oh I forgot, your average Slashdot poster living in his mother's basement had more insight into this than the guy responsible for the original Macintosh user interface guidelines.

We cannot command nature except by obeying her. -- Sir Francis Bacon