Apple's History Being Rewritten

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Has anyone else from Apple Old Guard (eg the 90s) noticed a massive rewriting of Apple's history in recent weeks? Especially by people (journalists more than ever) who never knew Apple in the late 80s and 90s?



I am not anti Steve Jobs, far from it. I think recent history has shown that he was brilliant, with excellent timing, and the whole 9 yards. Even going back as far as NeXT (who Apple to this day have to thank) with NeXTstep etc.



But there seems to be this annoying trend right now to say that everything Apple did whilst Steve was away was crap. And it's not!



The machines of the late 80s and early to mid 90s were brilliant. From a technical point of view they were far ahead of the competition (remember the Gates comment about 640k for instance), but even lowly things like ADB, network LocalTalk ImageWriters (dot matrix printers for the younger Apple owners), even the 3.5" drive when the whole industry was settled around 5.25" drives. (Floppies here - not hds).



But then there are other major things Apple did that was far ahead of the competition - like networking. Did anyone ever set up a LocalTalk network back in the early 90s? It was a joy - things just worked. Printers could be selected so easily. File shares were mounted in a couple of clicks. And the concept of a print server was quite alien in a Mac shop because every printer was it's own print server.



Then in the early 90s we had the transition between 68k to PPC - and anyone around at the time would remember that it was almost seamless. For the less enlightened, lets not forget how good Apple engineers were at making that a success and what they achieved. It was simply breathtaking that a company could re-engineer their whole system from CISC to RISC.



Rumour had it that even Microsoft at the time were impressed at how well Apple had done in such a move.



Admittedly the rot set in when the Performa range became an unimaginable tangle of machines that was hard to keep up with, or the Mac clones that ran so badly - they were fast machines - fast until they crashed. Continually. Or the fact that Apple could just not complete the new OS - hence buying NeXT.



But is it just me that feels a whole segment of Apple history is being relegated to "junk", when it wasn't?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    is it just me that feels a whole segment of Apple history is being relegated to "junk", when it wasn't?



    You're probably not alone in thinking this but my experience after the nicely designed computers and OS X came along was a million times better than it was before.



    OS 9 was a junk OS and not stable at all vs unix systems. The interoperability with other machines and systems was poor. Software support was non-existant and relying on 3rd party Codewarrior for the most part. As good as any of the individual developments may have been, they were mostly technical and/or proprietary without any major benefit.



    Developments like AppleTalk all too often left you without a backup despite the simplicity. Basically if it doesn't show up in the Chooser, you're on your own. With unix systems, you at least have terminal access and a vast amount of resources for troubleshooting problems but OS X still sufficiently masks the complexity.



    When the Mac OS went unix, almost overnight there was a wealth of software that came along with it. System stability even in the early days of OS X was so much better than OS 9. The system layout was much better, the fully repainting, double-buffered, drag and drop UI that was in Next OS was just stunning. More stunning really to think the functionality in OS 10.0 was available a decade earlier.



    CRTs were bad, proprietary interconnects were bad, cables were chunky, hard drives were slow and had low capacity, keyboards were noisy, networking was slow, software was scarce and unstable, parts were expensive, the plastic was dull and beige, the system fonts weren't anti-aliased, 3D graphics was largely non-existant, printers could only do boring text (no artwork), were noisy and slow, floppy disks were unreliable and almost useless.



    No matter how many incremental improvements were made during that era, anything less than a revolution simply wasn't good enough. Not good enough doesn't have to mean bad but I personally see it as bad. If you can see a right way of doing something and you compromise on it for profit, dogmatism or laziness then that's wrong. If you can't see the right way of doing something at all then you're not passionate enough about what you do and that's wrong too.



    Had it not been for the modern computer designs and Mac OS X, I would today be running a crummy Windows 7, piece of plastic crap and I am grateful every day for the post-2000 era of Apple that is not the case.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    Hold up a moment there big horse!



    The mid to late 90s were a disaster for Apple. Their OS replacements were running behind schedule and failing to materialise, hence System 7 being tweaked more and more to cope with timescales, and making it more unstable. Remember, System 7 was not unstable. System 9 was not stable.



    (Ironically, if Apple's alternatives had worked, then we wouldn't have OSX as we have today, and it's questionable that Steve Jobs would have returned to Apple in the first place).



    Not sure what you mean by AppleTalk not having a backup. I never saw a multihomed Apple system in all my years as an Apple tech. If AppleTalk didn't work - something wasn't plugged in somewhere and it was usually very easy to find (figure out which machine works and it's the cable between that one and the dead one).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin


    CRTs were bad, proprietary interconnects were bad, cables were chunky, hard drives were slow and had low capacity, keyboards were noisy, networking was slow, software was scarce and unstable, parts were expensive, the plastic was dull and beige, the system fonts weren't anti-aliased, 3D graphics was largely non-existant, printers could only do boring text (no artwork), were noisy and slow, floppy disks were unreliable and almost useless.



    I'm struggling with this comment of yours.



    CRTs? In 1995 you had a choice of cheap CRTs (crap) or decent CRTs (expensive). There were no LCD choices. Apple's decent CRTs were some of the best around (because they were Sony Trinitrons).



    Keyboards were noisy??



    Cables were chunky??



    Hard drives were slow and low capacity? It was mid 90s, they were all slow and low capacity.



    Printers could only do boring text? ImageWriter was perfectly capable of doing graphics and that was mid 80s, let alone the LaserWriters. And I'm sure they were outputting graphics to Linotypes in the mid 80s....



    Have you got Apple confused with Windows and PCs?
  • Reply 3 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    But is it just me that feels a whole segment of Apple history is being relegated to "junk", when it wasn't?



    You and I are clearly reading different things. I haven't seen anyone saying that the whole era was junk; you'd have to link to the articles you've read for me to believe otherwise. Apple did some great things and some godawful things in Jobs' absence but it's indisputable that in the few years prior to his return Apple had severely drifted off course.
  • Reply 4 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    if Apple's alternatives had worked, then we wouldn't have OSX as we have today, and it's questionable that Steve Jobs would have returned to Apple in the first place



    I don't believe the alternatives could have ever worked. OS 9 wasn't a disaster compared to system 7 etc, it was less stable but the major flaws were common to all pre-OS X systems. I still see the largest shortcoming as a lack of a solid developer kit.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    CRTs? In 1995 you had a choice of cheap CRTs (crap) or decent CRTs (expensive). There were no LCD choices. Apple's decent CRTs were some of the best around (because they were Sony Trinitrons).



    Keyboards were noisy??



    Cables were chunky??



    Hard drives were slow and low capacity? It was mid 90s, they were all slow and low capacity.



    The technology of that time was all bad and like I say, any improvements were like polishing a turd. No matter how hard you rub, you've still got a turd.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    Printers could only do boring text? ImageWriter was perfectly capable of doing graphics and that was mid 80s, let alone the LaserWriters. And I'm sure they were outputting graphics to Linotypes in the mid 80s....



    Dot Matrix printer output wasn't good enough to use for proper imagery. Low quality graphics that you see in the following video sure:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yntf_DpCmxg



    but realistically, only suitable for text output. Insanely slow and sounded like cheese grater running over a robotic wasp:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRoD_TM0VQ4



    Peeling the strips off the sides of the paper brings back memories - but not good ones.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    Sorry Marvin, you're a bit of a troll. I never loaded continuous stationary into an ImageWriter, so I can only assume you're Apple history involves looking at YouTube movies. Let alone specifically avoiding my reference to Linotype which is one of the biggest things in early Macintosh history.
  • Reply 6 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    Sorry Marvin, you're a bit of a troll. I never loaded continuous stationary into an ImageWriter, so I can only assume you're Apple history involves looking at YouTube movies. Let alone specifically avoiding my reference to Linotype which is one of the biggest things in early Macintosh history.



    Just because your experience differs from others doesn't make other people trolls. Also, what difference does it make what kind of paper was used? The print output wasn't good and it was far too slow.



    Yeah Apple made big changes in DTP but Apple was about personal computing and Linotypes have nothing to do with this. Technology that is worth talking about has a future and print has no future. OS 7-9 had no future by design.



    When you compare the developments made in the 85-97 era to where we headed, it's mostly irrelevant.



    Apple did a handful of things that certainly made an impact like introducing the Powerbook (still miss that name a bit), built the Newton and hired Jonathan Ive but they still went very wrong and the market reflected that, bringing them within months of bankruptcy.



    Contrast that with the NextStep OS and the introduction of the iMac and even the best of that era looks weak. If people have respect for what they achieved during that time, that's fine but I was constantly frustrated and underwhelmed by the technology of that era and that changed during the following era. Some of that can be put down to the natural progression of technology but there was a lot more than that.



    They seemed to follow a different set of principles or possibly stick to ones they always had. I didn't regard the 97-2001 era as all that spectacular either. It was only the 2001+ era with OS X that the revolution came.



    You're right that people who paint the post-Jobs era as good and pre-Jobs era as bad would be glossing over some of the good stuff but you only need to ask people the associations they make with the Apple brand and I would bet money they won't use the words Linotype, Imagewriter, AppleTalk, Mac OS 7-9. Again, that doesn't make it inherently bad, just not important and that is a bad thing.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    Sorry Marvin, you're a bit of a troll.



    Oh, gosh. Calling a moderator a troll.



    Now I've seen it all.



    My stars?



  • Reply 8 of 19
    tinman0tinman0 Posts: 168member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    When you compare the developments made in the 85-97 era to where we headed, it's mostly irrelevant.



    It's not irrelevant, that's the whole point of my post. Apple were innovative in the period that people happily dismiss. People are more than happy to believe that Apple were rudderless during the period that Jobs didn't work there, when Apple were far from rudderless.



    I wouldn't say the list of their achievements was endless, but it was certainly a long list.



    And please don't diss System 7 as being somehow old hat. Course it's old hat today, but in it's day it was class leading (not that System 6 was exactly letting the side down either).
  • Reply 9 of 19
    tinman0tinman0 Posts: 168member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Oh, gosh. Calling a moderator a troll.



    Now I've seen it all.



    My stars?







    Anyone who can dismiss an ImageWriter that runs it's own print server as "old hat" and "irrelevant" deserves the contempt that was thrown at them.



    Apple has an incredible non Steve Jobs history, and it has an even more incredible Steve Jobs modern history. But to dismiss the early history of the Macintosh is just pain daft.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    One of my favorite Macs ever was the PowerBook 100. And I had a Centris 610 as my main machine for a disturbingly long period of time.



    Mostly though Apple did not innovate much after Jobs left, they coasted on the high margin desktop publishing stuff, and when Windows caught up to them they didn't have a unique selling point to justify the high price or the non-compatibility.



    That, more than crap products per se, was the problem.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    bsenkabsenka Posts: 799member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tullius View Post


    Mostly though Apple did not innovate much after Jobs left.



    This is exactly the kind of revisionist history that the OP is referring to.



    Jobs left in 1985. Apple evolved tremendously from 1985 to 1997, and was always years ahead of the competition. The entire time Jobs was gone, they were still the R&D department for the entire tech industry.



    Where they had a problem was marketing. They didn't have a charismatic guy like Jobs to convince the media and the public that they had what people wanted, and their advertising was mostly weak and scattershot.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    It's not irrelevant, that's the whole point of my post. Apple were innovative in the period that people happily dismiss. People are more than happy to believe that Apple were rudderless during the period that Jobs didn't work there, when Apple were far from rudderless.



    I would still call them rudderless. Some of the talent was there but didn't have the right focus. That was one of the key points of Steve Jobs' return was that he cut out the printers, cameras, PDAs etc and all the other stuff that their competition were doing better - not necessarily better from a technological point of view but from a business point of view.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    I wouldn't say the list of their achievements was endless, but it was certainly a long list.



    I wouldn't say the list was very long if you mean successful developments.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    And please don't diss System 7 as being somehow old hat. Course it's old hat today, but in it's day it was class leading (not that System 6 was exactly letting the side down either).



    Of course compared to Windows 3.1 and Solaris, it was better than what was available to the mass market but not better than NextStep by any stretch of the imagination:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j02b8Fuz73A



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0


    Anyone who can dismiss an ImageWriter that runs it's own print server as "old hat" and "irrelevant" deserves the contempt that was thrown at them.



    If you feel it was revolutionary and it made a huge impact that affected you then you have every right to criticise my opinion but contempt is unnecessary. Also Steve Jobs was still at the company when those were introduced and Apple didn't even make them entirely, they were based off C. Itoh printers, hence why they have compatible parts:



    http://www.docgrahams.com/Ribbons+an...+II+++++++++++



    The Imagewriter had a nicer case of course:



    http://lh4.ggpht.com/-JRRAB4Dm2Ho/TR...k/Printers.JPG



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tullius


    they didn't have a unique selling point to justify the high price or the non-compatibility



    I'd say that's a pretty accurate statement.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsenka


    Where they had a problem was marketing.



    I don't think so. When you are trying to compete in a booming industry against 10 different companies, you need to be compatible or cheap and Apple was neither. The UNIX system instantly made them compatible. The Intel switch made the next jump and right now we find ourselves in a very nice position.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    Seriously Marvin, you gave me an "infraction" point because I called you a troll?



    Heaven forbid I really offend you.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    Seriously Marvin, you gave me an "infraction" point because I called you a troll?



    Heaven forbid I really offend you.



    The forum rules include no ad hom comments. It's ok to say something like 'you're just trolling' or 'you're being argumentative' but as soon as the comment is directed at the poster, it becomes an ad hom. So, 'you're argument is stupid' is ok but 'you are stupid' gets an infraction. It's a subtle distinction at times but it's one to bear in mind as it helps stop the discussion descending to an unproductive level.



    These infractions are issued regardless of who they are directed at and normally I let them slide if they are directed at me in a discussion but I didn't think it was warranted on this occasion.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    But it makes Mr. Jobs look magical.



    Reading the bio of Steve, people give him WAAAAAY too much credit. He wasn't God.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    The forum rules include no ad hom comments. It's ok to say something like 'you're just trolling' or 'you're being argumentative' but as soon as the comment is directed at the poster, it becomes an ad hom. So, 'you're argument is stupid' is ok but 'you are stupid' gets an infraction. It's a subtle distinction at times but it's one to bear in mind as it helps stop the discussion descending to an unproductive level.



    These infractions are issued regardless of who they are directed at and normally I let them slide if they are directed at me in a discussion but I didn't think it was warranted on this occasion.



    Marvin, you are being childish. You behaved like a troll and you deserved to be called a troll. You pull up some rules because you are unable to take a bit of criticism and because you are a moderator. Apparently power has corrupted you.



    No one else on the board has been pulled up for calling each other trolls (and there are enough of them), so why now?



    If you are unable to see the achievements of Apple during the non Jobs era, then that is your problem.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    Marvin, you are being childish. You behaved like a troll and you deserved to be called a troll. You pull up some rules because you are unable to take a bit of criticism and because you are a moderator. Apparently power has corrupted you.No one else on the board has been pulled up for calling each other trolls (and there are enough of them), so why now?



    If you are unable to see the achievements of Apple during the non Jobs era, then that is your problem.



    Lolz. I actually got banned from a few forums for calling out the mods.



    I do find it unfair you can't voice your opinion without being afraid fo being infracted. Especially since the rule doesn't seem universal.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    Marvin, you are being childish. You behaved like a troll and you deserved to be called a troll. You pull up some rules because you are unable to take a bit of criticism and because you are a moderator. Apparently power has corrupted you.



    My post was in no way inflammatory, it just wasn't in agreement with you. You are free to criticise me as much as you like, just avoid the personal insults like the one you just used.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    No one else on the board has been pulled up for calling each other trolls (and there are enough of them), so why now?



    Other posters have been issued infractions for it.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post


    If you are unable to see the achievements of Apple during the non Jobs era, then that is your problem.



    I agree there were some but not enough to describe the era as a successful one.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsenka View Post


    This is exactly the kind of revisionist history that the OP is referring to.



    Jobs left in 1985. Apple evolved tremendously from 1985 to 1997, and was always years ahead of the competition. The entire time Jobs was gone, they were still the R&D department for the entire tech industry.



    Where they had a problem was marketing. They didn't have a charismatic guy like Jobs to convince the media and the public that they had what people wanted, and their advertising was mostly weak and scattershot.



    1985 to 1997 was not absolutely horrible for Apple. They did alright. But they were clearly struggling by the mid-90's after Windows 95 kicked in and PCs became yet more powerful and affordable. In the early 90's the Mac still had a huge role in education and was the go-to computer in the "creative industries". The 2nd half of the 90's was when Apple got hammered.



    So sans Steve the Apple boat was still floating but by the time he came back it was taking on water fast. The iMac and OSX was a powerful bilge pump that got it chugging along again.
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