Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

On January 22, 1984, the famous “1984” television commercial introducing the Macintosh personal computer ran during the third quarter of the Super Bowl.  Many people think that this is the only time it ever ran.  But, it was also run by the Chiat/Day, the ad agency that created it, on December 31, 1983 right before the 12:00 midnight sign-off on KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho, so that it could qualify for the 1983 advertising awards. The ad was so successful, that it never really needed to be run again as the media coverage it got generated a lot of free airtime.  And, people are still talking about it 30 years later.

The ad is based on the book, “1984” by George Orwell which introduced the concept of “Big Brother”.  The ad refers to IBM as “Big Brother” and the Apple Macintosh computer as the individual challenging a society of people who don’t behave as individuals.  Interestingly, the estate of George Orwell and the television rights holder to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four considered the commercial to be a copyright infringement and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple and Chiat/Day after the ad ran which generated even more publicity.



Here’s Director Ridley Scott discussing the making of the famous 1984 Macintosh commercial.  [This is excerpted from an Apple promotional video.]



The “1984” ad was shown at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Macintosh in 2004  There was also an updated version of it created for the iPod launch.  Was it one of the best ads ever?  That’s up for debate.  But, as a marketer, I’d give it an award for one of the top 10 product launches ever.

— Carole Gunst

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Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Regarded by many as one of the greatest commencement addresses in U.S. history, by someone who admittedly never graduated from college himself. At just over 15 minutes in length, Steve Jobs neatly, yet forcefully encapsulates his family history, professional history, and general philosophy of life. It could easily be boiled down to a mere two word phrase: “Don’t settle.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life … remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose … there is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Farewell, Steve Jobs. One of history’s giants who made this world dramatically better because he had lived.

-Chris Hartman

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On October 12, 1988, Steve Jobs unveiled the NeXT Computer at Symphony Hall in San Francisco. A day or two later, I was among a standing-room only crowd at Boston’s Symphony Hall admiring the all-black, beautifully-designed “workstation” with a brand-new optical drive (no hard disk drive in the computer of the future according to Jobs) that played a duet with a human violinist.

That night I sent a gushing memo to my colleagues at DEC, telling them that the future has arrived and that Jobs education-sector-first marketing strategy was brilliant. Indeed, CERN was one of the early adopters and Tim Berners-Lee developed the first WWW browser/editor on the NeXT workstation. But NeXT Computer, Inc. went on to sell only 50,000 beautifully-designed “cubes,” getting out of the hardware business altogether in 1993.

For many years, I have kept in my office the “Computing advances to the NeXT level” poster I got that night as a reminder that forecasting the next big (or small) thing in technology is tough, even impossible. And yet, many people believe that technology marches according to some “laws” or pre-defined trajectory and that all we have to do is decipher the “evolutionary” path technology (or the economy or society) is destined to follow.

Jobs went on to introduce the iPod and  the iPad, industry-changing devices whose invention was made possible, among other things, by a tiny disk drive. The possibility of a significant boost to the simultaneous shrinking (of size) and enlarging (of capacity) of disk drives was known since the discovery of the giant magnetoresistance effect in the very same year the NeXT Computer was introduced, 1988. Still, no one predicted the iPod.  Similarly, in 1990 no one predicted how the Web will change our lives or in 2000, how virtualization will change the lives of IT managers, although both technologies existed at the time.

To quote Ebenezer Scrooge,who had the opportunity to meet his future, “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if preserved in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” We cannot predict our future. But, like Steve Jobs, we can create it.

–Gil Press

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Steve Jobs and Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel co-founder Robert Noyce, 1975. Noyce was both friend and mentor to Jobs. Courtesy, startup-book.com.

Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs said yesterday in a letter released by Apple Inc. that he was no longer able to meet his duties as CEO of the company and was resigning, effective immediately. Tim Cook, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, becomes its new CEO. Jobs now becomes Apple’s chairman, a position that did not exist previously.

Jobs is the subject of a forthcoming authorized biography by noted biographer and historian Walter Isaacson, which reportedly is on schedule to meet its original release date of November 21. The book promises to be an unusually open and revealing portrait of Jobs, including not only the results of hours of interviews Isaacson conducted with him, but also the perspectives of his ex-girlfriends, former (and fired) employees, foes, friends and family, as well as details of the resignation itself.

Isaacson is presently completing the last chapter of the book, and in somewhat surprising fashion, the famously secluded Jobs has reportedly kept the project at arms length, giving Isaacson room for largely unfettered research. It already promises to be one of the most talked about and in-demand biographies to come out in recent years and can be pre-ordered through Amazon.com.

Click here for a slideshow of “The greatest victories of Steve Jobs’ career” courtesy of PCmag.com

-Chris Hartman

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Malcolm Gladwell writes in the May 16 issue of The New Yorker magazine about how the very inexact science of innovation occurs. From the late 1960s when Cal Berkeley-trained engineer Douglas Englebart first developed the computer “mouse,” to how colleagues of his at Xerox PARC passed on their knowledge to Apple Inc.’s Steve Jobs (in exchange for some very valuable Apple stock) in the late 1970s, it’s a fascinating study of the evolution of technology and how it is developed over time. The link above is to an abstract of the more detailed article, which is available both in hard copy and via its iPad application. The issue is definitely worth picking up.

-Chris Hartman

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Thirty-five years ago today, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne signed a partnership agreement that established the company that will become Apple Computer, Inc. on January 3, 1977. (Wayne left the company eleven days later, relinquishing his ten percent share for US$2300). Steve Jobs told Stephen Segaller in Nerds 2.0.1:  (more…)

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On August 31, 2010, Autodesk announced AutoCAD for the Mac.  This version of AutoCAD, runs natively on Mac OS X. The company also announced AutoCAD WS mobile application, a new app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch that will allow users to edit and share their AutoCAD designs in the field.

The New York Times quoted Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Autodesk Platform Solutions and Emerging Business as saying “Autodesk could no longer ignore Mac’s comeback.”   The New York Times article also said that “The Mac was once a popular platform for AutoCAD. But Apple’s share of the personal computer market dwindled in the early 1990s, so Autodesk made its last version of AutoCAD for the Mac in 1992, and stopped supporting it in 1994. The company continued to make other products for the Mac, including software used in the entertainment industry.”

The Mac’s comeback is hard to ignore.  In May 2010, Apple passed Microsoft in market cap.  Earlier this month, Fortune reported that over the last five years, “Apple has switched places with Dell as the laptop of choice.”  The New York Times article says “The Mac accounted for nearly 10 percent of all PCs sold around the world in the first quarter, according to Gartner, or more than double its share just a few years ago. In the most recent quarter, Apple sold nearly 3.5 million Mac computers, a 33 percent increase from the same quarter a year earlier. That rate of growth far exceeded the overall PC market.”

AutoCAD for Mac Built for Mac OS X

According to the Autodesk press release, AutoCAD for Mac makes available many of the powerful AutoCAD features and functionality. The software takes full advantage of Mac OS X, and it offers easy collaboration with suppliers, customers, clients and partners regardless of platform. Files created in previous versions of AutoCAD will open  in AutoCAD for Mac.

AutoCAD Extended to iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

Autodesk also announced the AutoCAD WS mobile application that will extend AutoCAD to Apple’s iOS. The AutoCAD WS app lets AutoCAD users edit and share AutoCAD files on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

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With the advent of Apple computer’s latest tablet, called the iPad, it’s useful to recall that in the early 1980s, a San Francisco industrial design firm called Frog Design helped create some early prototypes of tablets for Apple Computer’s young Steve Jobs. Now we learn that Frog Design has discovered some extraordinary photos from its archives that show what the tablet might have looked like more than twenty-five years ago. 

With Apple expected to unveil its long-awaited tablet device today, Wednesday, Jan. 27th, it somehow seems appropriate that we revisit history. Some of these photos are shown below, courtesy of “This Old Mac.” The sheer number of these various prototypes shows how much Apple’s founders apparently thought about bringing a tablet to market.

In 1983, Frog Design created the “Bashfuls” in reference to the dwarf in the fairy tale Snow White. Bashful was created alongside the Apple IIe as an extension of the Snow White industrial-design language used by Apple during 1984-1990, and which continued with several Macintosh models. The firm later designed Sun’s SPARCstations in 1986 and the famous NeXT Computer in 1987. Frog Design also helped create the Apple IIc, the fourth in its very successful Apple II line of personal computers.

Apple Tablet prototype from around 1983, which looks similar to the Apple IIc.

As you can see, there are none of the sleek contours that characterize Apple’s products today. But you can still see the emphasis on ease-of-use and a (relatively) slim profile.

Variations of the Bashful tablet included one with an attached keyboard and one with a floppy-disk drive and a handle for portability. Some of the tablet prototypes included a stylus. And one concept even had an attached phone. Having been developed as a prototype in 1993, this was a PowerBook Duo Tablet Computer codenamed PenLite.

Codenamed "PenLite," Apple developed its prototype of the PowerBook Duo Tablet Computer in 1993.

According to This Old Mac:

“The Macintosh PowerBook Duo Tablet computer was a combination of a PowerBook Duo computer and a Tablet PC. It had a stylus pen, backlit display, vertically built-in floppy drive and ran standard MacOS software. The PowerBook Duo Tablet could also be connected to the Duo Docks and accessories. The project was canceled in 1994 before the introduction of Newton Message Pad 100. Apple felt that it would be too confusing to have different pen-driven tablet computers.”

This reminds me so very well of the Digital PDP-1 computer, which also used a stylus. It would appear that Apple considered this technology readily adaptable to the prototypical tablet.

One of the very formative designs stated “Graphics Tablet” on its margin, and has a memory card dated 1979.

The 1983 Apple IIe "Graphics Tablet." The interface card is dated 1979, making it in many ways the earliest Apple tablet prototype.

For a variety of reasons, the “Bashfuls” never made it to market, and one can only guess as to their whereabouts today. In all likelihood, both Frog Design and Apple (both still extant), have them squirreled away somewhere.

A summary of the initial decision to postpone marketing tablets, and why their re-appearance should make life easier for the average consumer:

Apple has always been keen on developing tablet technology, and their original research into the subject was prescient; but in the end, they decided on smaller, handheld devices as in the Newton – a forerunner of the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) – instead of full blown Tablets.

First, Apple did not have an operating system that was touch friendly. At the time, the Classic OS was still developing, and the Newton [message pad] project had its own problems (for one, its size was comparable to a brick). The Newton also had several cumbersome accessories, as shown below:

Three Newton MessagePad devices with keyboard and LinearFlash PCMCIA memory card accessories. (image courtesy Magnus Manske).

However, it would seem that with the arrival and extraordinary popularity of the iPhone, this hurdle has been cleared,

As for additional theories, from This Old Mac:

“In order for the Tablet to be marketable, they probably thought that they would have to make their own custom OS for it, like they did with the Newton: not an easy task, and something that would take years to develop. But human resources at Apple were limited, since the Classic OS was in desperate need of a refresh, since Microsoft won the Windows copyright/patent battle with Apple and launched their own full-blown Windows OS in 1993: their efforts were focused on just keeping their home computer market alive.

“Second, a bad economy… Apple was already into the Newton project for many millions, and taking another substantive risk with a new breed of computers was likely not something the Board would have entertained.

“Third, the public was likely not ready to accept Tablet computers. Of course, all was not lost, as the research and development from these Tablet projects surely contributed to the Newton’s evolution, and set a foundation at Apple for future projects of similar kind.”

It would appear then that Apple’s current tablet is just the next step in the evolution of the laptop. It has been widely suggested that the tablet’s mobility is a chief reason for its appeal. It can be transported places where a laptop would be both cumbersome and impractical, and its touch technology could offer a facility of use that is pleasant and easy – Kindle or eRead devices come to mind – not to mention GPS devices such as the Garmin. However, it will certainly have Apple’s classic attention to visual appeal. It will likely be a shiny, industrial grade of aluminum, perhaps with the glowing Apple logo on the back, and both thin and light – permitting ease of transport. Think of a portable office. Yet another way in which the history of high tech is influencing the future.

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“Welcome to MacIntosh” is a new independent documentary highlighting Apple Inc’s history and fan following.  “The goal was to make a film that you can show to anyone, even someone that has never used a computer, and have them understand why so many people love Macintosh,” says Josh Rizzo, Co-Director. “We have received a lot of support from members of the Mac Community. We could not have done this without them.”

In the spring of 2009 the filmmakers held a screening in San Francisco during the week of Macworld Conference and Expo during which Apple Co-founder and entrepreneur Steve Wozniak comment that “Welcome to Macintosh” was “So much on the mark… I’ve been involved with some other independent films and this is by far the best one I’ve seen.”

Welcome to Macintosh has been presented in over fifty Macintosh User Groups around the world as well as an official selection in seven international film festivals including the 10th Annual Wisconsin Film Festival, the 4th Globians World and Culture Documentary Film Festival, the 1st Ann. Naperville Independent Film Fest, the Texandance International Film Festival as well as the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival.

The documentary premiers at 9:30 p.m. (e.s.t.) on CNBC on January 4, 2010.  You can also pre-order it through the official movie site.

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The New York Times reported yesterday (Dec. 7th) that there was a reunion last month of colleagues who pioneered the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. They met over two days at the William Gates Computer Center on the Stanford campus.

According to the article’s author, John Markoff, there were other pioneering labs at Stanford, but the A.I. lab received less recognition than its peers:

“One laboratory, Douglas Engelbart’s Augmentation Research Center, became known for the mouse; a second, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, developed the Alto, the first modern personal computer. But the third, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, or SAIL, run by the computer scientist John McCarthy, gained less recognition.”

SAIL was begun by Dr. John McCarthy (who coined the term “artificial intelligence”) in 1963. Les Earnest was its deputy director. During that time, McCarthy’s initial proposal, to the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Pentagon, envisioned that building a thinking machine would take about a decade. In 1966, the laboratory took up residence in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains behind Stanford in an unfinished corporate research facility that had been intended for a telecommunications firm.

Markoff continues, “SAIL researchers embarked on an extraordinarily rich set of technical and scientific challenges that are still on the frontiers of computer science, including machine vision and robotic manipulation, as well as language and navigation.”

This group of alumni distinguished themselves in other innovative and distinctive ways – with artificial intelligence at the heart of their experimentation. As Markoff notes, “… Raj Reddy and Hans Moravec  went on to pioneer speech recognition and robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Alan Kay brought his Dynabook portable computer concept first to Xerox PARC and later to Apple. Larry Tesler  developed the philosophy of simplicity in computer interfaces that would come to define the look and functioning of the screens of modern Apple computers — what is called the graphical user interface, or G.U.I.”

John Chowning, a musicologist, referred to SAIL as a ‘Socratean abode.’ He was invited to use the mainframe computer at the laboratory late at night when the demand was light, and his group went on to pioneer FM synthesis, a technique for creating sounds that transforms the quality, or timbre, of a simple waveform into a more complex sound. (The technique was discovered by Dr. Chowning at Stanford in 1973 and later licensed to Yamaha.)”

As has been noted previously in “High Tech History,” Spacewar was, in essence the first video game which was programmed with a Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-1 computer. At Stanford, Joel Pitts, a protege of SAIL’s Don Knuth (who wrote definitive texts on computer programming),  “… took a version of the Spacewar computer game and turned it into the first coin-operated video game — which was installed in the university’s student coffee house — months before Nolan Bushnell did the same with Atari.”

In 1980, the lab merged with Stanford’s computer science department, reopened in 2004, and is now enjoying something of a rebirth. Markoff concludes,

“The reunion also gave a hint of what is to come. During an afternoon symposium at the reunion, several of the current SAIL researchers showed a startling video called “Chaos” taken from the Stanford Autonomous Helicopter project. An exercise in machine learning, the video shows a model helicopter making a remarkable series of maneuvers that would not be possible by a human pilot. The demonstration is particular striking because the pilot system first learned from a human pilot and then was able to extend those skills.

But an artificial intelligence? It is still an open question. In 1978, Dr. McCarthy wrote, “human-level A.I. might require 1.7 Einsteins, 2 Maxwells, 5 Faradays and .3 Manhattan Projects.”

Reunion of the S.A.I.L. Laboratory at Stanford University last month

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