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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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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Must-have apps: TenFourFox

Filed under: Software

If you have an old Macintosh with a PowerPC CPU and you want to browse the modern world wide web, you have only one reasonable choice: 10.4Fx, better known as TenFourFox.

TenFourFox: A fork of Mozilla Firefox ESR 38 for the Power Macintosh and Mac OS X Tiger PowerPC

It’s an acclaimed and heroic port of Firefox written by Power Mac users and maintained by Power Mac users, “still out there keeping your Power Mac relevant in an Intel world”.
As I write this text the current version of TenFourFox incorporates “the latest bug fixes and security improvements plus all the powerful technology underlying Mozilla Firefox 38 ESR“.

But let’s take a step back. (more…)

Wednesday 11 November 2015, 2:00 pm
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Must-have apps: Mactracker

Filed under: Software

mactracker iconAre you looking for the best resource for technical data on both historic and new Apple products? The free Mactracker software for Mac and iOS is the answer to your needs.

Sure, you could peruse the Apple Support section of Apple.com and/or other unofficial but very useful websites, but none of them present the information as well as the slick portable database included (and constantly updated) in Mactracker.

Thanks to a compact and easily browsable interface, in just a few clicks (or taps) you can find exactly what kind of RAM memory the latest MacBook uses, what version of USB is present, which are the differences between the various Airport stations or how many Newton models did Apple make (seven; eight if you count the eMate).

Mactracker for Mac

Developed and curated since May 14, 2001 by Ian Page, Mactracker provides detailed information on [almost] every Apple product ever made. It doesn’t stop at Macintosh systems, but includes peripherals (even obscure ones, like the Apple IIc Flat Panel Display) and Mac/iOS operating systems.

Aggiornamenti disponibili - MactrackerIt is an incredibly useful tool for historians, collectors, hobbbyists, resellers, service providers, IT support professionals and just plain users.

It is not a fixed archive and does not grow in just one direction. (more…)

Wednesday 15 April 2015, 2:00 pm

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The first fonts of the Macintosh

Filed under: People,Software

During the summer of 1983, after spending more than six months creating symbols and icons for Macintosh files and menus, designer Susan Kare‘s attention turned to an issue she very much cared about: fonts.

Apple Macintosh Commercial - Susan Kare

At the time, on most personal computers, each letter was allotted the same space regardless of its shape. Thanks to its bitmap high resolution display (and Steve Jobs’ obsession with calligraphy) the Macintosh was capable of rendering proportional fonts, “leaving behind the tyranny of monospace alphabets with their narrow m’s and wide i’s” as Kare recalls.

The tireless engineer Bill Atkinson had already given two fonts to the Macintosh, a calligraphic one and a placeholder one, the latter converted from Xerox’s Smalltalk systems that inspired Apple.

xeroxfonts-byte081981pag120

Free from the requirement of making digital versions of print, scalable or already existing fonts, Kare focused on optimizing screen readability creating new bitmap fonts in specific sizes, controlling every single pixel as she was wont to do. (more…)

Tuesday 24 February 2015, 2:30 pm
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