Jaguar Vs Cognac

The two projects, which aimed to bring RISC technology to the Macintosh, had totally different approaches and resources. Here are some of the main points which put them at the antipodes.

Jaguar had dozens of engineers from the start and was a very ambitious project.
Cognac, at least initially, had a much smaller team. Work started as a stopgap solution to bridge 68k and RISC, later evolved into a “plan B” and then became the only way forward for the Macintosh.

Since the 88k architecture wasn’t compatible with the 68k one, Jaguar engineers chose to start with a clean slate, even tough this meant that there would be the need to recompile all previous software for the Macintosh. This was similar to the IA-64 debacle of Intel’s Itanium , which was humiliated by AMD’s evolutionary way to add 64-bit computing capabilities to the existing x86 architecture.
The Cognac team was much more pragmatic. (more…)

Wednesday 23 August 2017, 10:04 am
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The Jonathan Computer

Filed under: Design,Hardware

In late 1984 the Macintosh’sApple’s market share was just 15% and Steve Jobs, John Sculley and their staff were running various scenarios to gain sales without losing the much needed profit to fund R&D and advertising.
According to designer Tony Guido the question at Apple was:

“What would it take to put the Mac on as many desktops as possible, without licensing, in a way that would convince DOS users to migrate toward the Mac?”

At the same time hardware engineer John Fitch, having just completed work on the IIgs, was worried by the lack of follow-up product for the Apple II. Fitch wanted to design a computer around a new chip, the Motorola 68030, which would be powerful enough for business and high end applications, but could also be offered to home users.

Inspired by the Apple II “open” architecture mindset, Fitch proposed a modular approach.
He designed a simple hardware “backbone” carrying basic operations and I/O on which the user could add a series of “book” modules, carrying hardware for running Apple II, Mac, UNIX and DOS software, plus other modules with disk drives or networking capabilities.

frogdesignprototypes-jonathan-blackmodules

Thus beginners, mid-level and high-end customers could all use the same basic hardware but could configure and enhance their systems over time. (more…)

Wednesday 03 June 2015, 3:00 pm
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Two great Apple-retro-styled items: the Disk II SD Card Reader and the Classic Macintosh iPod Nano Dock

Filed under: Design,Hardware,News

The world of retrocomputing (or computing history, if you wish) and modern tech products seldom meet.

I have been asked a few times to haw^^advertise new products for sale but have always refused since I never found new stuff which had something in common with the old technology I write about on Stories of Apple and its italian version. That was until a couple of days ago, when I found, on Etsy, two very nice Apple-retro-styled items made by RetroConnector.

The Disk II styled USB SD Card Reader is an external reader of SD memory cards, which has been styled after the iconic Apple II floppy disk drive from 1978. It’s available in beige, mimicking the color of the original disk drive, or in an unpainted in white and black which were the colors of a rare Bell & Howell edition of the Apple II.

Here it is, in a view embedded from the Etsy listing.

Disk II styled USB SD Card Reader

The other item is a Classic Macintosh iPod Nano Dock, a dock for 6th generation iPod nano. It resembles a Macintosh from the late Eighties, in a painted “platinum” beige to match the color chosen for the Mac Plus by frogdesign. Also: when inserted, the iPod nano acts as a screen for this tiny tiny computer for the rest of us.
Here it is.

Classic Macintosh iPod Nano Dock

Both items are quite costly ($50.00 USD for the card reader and 60 for the dock) and are obviously absolutely unofficial products, not licensed by Apple.
On the other hand they succeed in recreating the look and the memory of the original items, which are now over 30 years old, while also being useful accessories for modern Apple products, which is quite a feat.

Well done, RetroConnector!

p.s. There is no referral in the links and I do not get any percentage or kickback from the sale.

Thursday 17 April 2014, 6:59 pm
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The Performas

Filed under: Design,Hardware

On the 14th of September, 1992 Apple Computer introduced a new family of Macintosh computers targeting the consumer marketplace. Initially available only in the U.S., the new series of computers were “designed to reach first-time buyers and new users in the home, offering specific solutions for families with school-age children”. Every Macintosh Performa included “enhanced system software, pre-loaded applications [such as ClarisWorks], one year of service and support”, and were to be “distributed in nearly 2,000 consumer retail outlets nationwide”. It was a bold but ultimately unsuccesful move to expand market share by offering an affordable entry into the Macintosh world, rebranding older and low power systems with a new name. The Performas were based on preexisting Macintoshes, although not all of them were exact copies and some even had their own code names.

Macintosh Performa 200 - Photo by Maja VervoortThe initial 1992 Performa family consisted of three models: the Macintosh Performa 200, Macintosh Performa 400 and the Macintosh Performa 600/600 CD. All of them were shipped installed with an optimized version of System 7 called System 7.1P, “designed to make using the Macintosh even easier for first-time computer buyers”.

The Performa 200, code named “Lady Kenmore”, was basically a Macintosh Classic II, released one year after the original and bundled with a 2400/9600 baud fax/modem and extra software. It was discontinued in April 1993, one month after Apple introduced its successor, the Performa 250, which was based on the Macintosh Color Classic.

The Performa 400 was a lowly Macintosh LC II, originally released six months before, in March. Bundled with several different hard drives and software, and rereleased in four variants as the Performa 400, 405, 410, and 430, it unfortunately had the same shortcomings of the LC II, i.e. the LC’s 16-bit data path, which crippled the speed of the relatively fast 16 MHz 68030 processor.

The Performas 600 and 600CD had the look and were based on the motherboard of the Macintosh IIvi but were released a bit later in the consumer market, and sported the IIvx’s 68030 32 MHz processor. The Performa 600 CD were among the first Macintoshes with an internal CD-ROM drive which could read data, play audio discs and also supported Kodak’s Photo CD technology.

The last batch of Performas was introduced in 1996 and discontinued during 1997 and early 1998. Among the last ones was also the first and only original model ever released, the Performa 6400, which had a new tower case design. It was Apple’s first consumer-aimed mid-range computer and had optional A/V capabilities: its innards were also used for the Performa 6360.

The Performa 200 picture is © Maja Vervoort, which has kindly authorized the reproduction alongside this text.

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Sunday 16 September 2012, 12:18 pm
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Here comes the eMac

In April 2002, Apple renewed its attention to the educational market with a new, exclusive Macintosh model. eMacBuilding upon the success of the iMac, engineers and designers in Infinite Loop created the eMac, a new desktop all-in-one Macintosh with a 17-inch flat CRT monitor and a PowerPC G4 processor housed in a compact and curved white case.

The move followed Apple’s decision to radically change the look of the iMac, which in January 2002 not only abandoned the G3 CPU but acquired a flat panel screen perched on a white matte half-dome, with the effect of looking like a lamp (or a sunflower, according to Apple’s designer, Jonathan Ive). The previous iMac line was discontinued except for some lower spec models which were kept available until March 2003. (more…)

Tuesday 03 April 2012, 9:15 pm
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