Larry Tesler on PARC and Apple

Filed under: People

On the 9th of November 2011 a group of engineers and other notable people who worked with Steve Jobs talked publicly about the Apple and Pixar founder during an evening organized by The Churchill Club, a Silicon Valley non-profit business and technology forum.

2011-churchillclub-stevejobs

Among them was Larry Tesler, who started as an engineer at Xerox’s famed PARC center, where (among other things) he invented the technique we now use to copy and paste on a computer and then worked for 17 years at Apple as VP of Advanced Tech and Chief Scientist.

I’ve taken the liberty to transcribe (and edit a bit) the very interesting six minutes of the video recording (start at 30:45, or see a clip) where Tesler tells about Apple’s involvement with PARC, its technologies and people.

“Xerox was facing a lot of competition from Asian companies in copiers when their patents expired and one thing they found was that they had a very high manufacturing cost and they were really having trouble competing with these new forces in the market.
At the same time they had Xerox PARC, developing very exciting technologies including the Ethernet, GUIs with windows and improved mice from what existed before. (more…)

Tuesday 08 November 2016, 2:00 pm
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Fringe and the wrong Macintosh

Filed under: Did you know that...

Science fiction TV series Fringe featured quite a few Macs during its five seasons.

Fringe - Astrid with an iMac

Its characters have used desktop Macs, iMacs and a lot MacBook Pros. But while matching models to recent events is pretty easy, things get a bit trickier when you try to go back in time… (more…)

Tuesday 07 June 2016, 3:00 pm
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The Mac IIfx: Apple enters the workstation market

Developed to quickly process data heavy tasks, run UNIX and… to satisfy a government contract.

Released in March 1990, the Mac IIfx at the time was the fastest and most responsive Mac ever built. While Apple dubbed it “Wicked fast”, users interpreted the “fx” as an acronym for “Fucking eXpensive”, since the computer cost an enormous amount of money: 10000 to 12000 USD, depending on configuration..
The IIfx was Apple’s first real workstation and was supposed to rival offerings by brands such as Sun, Hewlett Packard and Apollo.

Illustrazione Mac IIWhile externally identical to a Mac II, internally the IIfx was quite different. It was powered by a Motorola 68030 CPU running at 40 MHz (almost twice the clock of the fastest Mac previously available, the IIci) and its 32 KB Level 2 Cache wasn’t optional but built in.
(more…)

Tuesday 16 February 2016, 12:00 pm
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Screw Bjarne

In the world of programming languages, Danish computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup is a very well-known and respected name. Stroustrup has not only been the head of AT&T Bell Labs’ “Large-scale Programming Research” department for many years but he is also the father of the widely used object-oriented C++ programming language, that he officially released in 1983.

At the end of the Eighties Apple developers decided to start supporting the new language in the Mac Programmer’s Workshop (MPW), at the time the official IDE to create Macintosh software.

Screw BjarneThe effort wasn’t without hitches and C++’s logic caused bouts of frustration, vented in some funny ways. Among them was a “Talking Bjarne” application and most of all the production a of a geeky t-shirt featuring a picture of Stroustrup’s head pierced by a giant screw.

According to Landon Dyer, who made the t-shirt, the image was meant to be an irreverent statement around the fact that he thought that C++ was really “screwed up”, although the message which actually came through was a more direct, and liberating, “Screw Bjarne”.

When Stroustrup came to Apple to give a lecture, Dyer gave him one of the t-shirts and apparently the father of C++ wasn’t angry and seemed delighted to have made such a strong impression on Infinite Loop’s developers.

The image is taken from geekt.org/geekt/comment.cgi?newsid=1195

Tuesday 09 February 2016, 12:29 pm
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The Apple III, Steve Jobs and Jerry Manock

Filed under: Hardware,People

Apple’s first computer designed for the enterprise market, the first not engineered by Steve Wozniak. And Infinite Loop’s first major failure

The Apple III went down as a costly and embarrassing failure. It tarnished Apple’s image and contributed to lose a good chunk of the precious market lead the Cupertino company had conquered with the Apple II.

Announced in May 1980, but made available only several months later, the Apple III was sold at prices ranging from 4000 to 7000 USD, depending on the configuration. It was a professional machine partially compatible with the Apple II, an 8 bit computer also powered by the same 6502 CPU, but with a higher clock. It also had more RAM, a higher screen resolution, built-in disk drives and a keyboard featuring upper and lowercase keys and a numeric keypad.

The often quoted story about the Apple III goes that it was a failure because of Steve Jobs’ unreasonable demands, most of all his dislike for fans, whose addition he forbade. This design choice supposedly caused such overheating and malfunctions that Apple was forced to replace 14000 units, even after having users perform odd procedures to try and fix the computer.

It’s undeniable that the Apple III hardware had some kind of serious problem, but in 2007 the original case co-designer, Jerry Manock, refuted the case design flaw charges and set the record straight, partially absolving Steve Jobs. (more…)

Tuesday 02 February 2016, 1:00 pm
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