In June 2004 Grady Booch interviewed Bill Atkinson and Andy Hertzfeld for the Computer History Museum. His last question for the creators of the Macintosh was about how we will use computers in the future:
Booch: [...] Predicting the future has always been impossible, but what’s your hope, and vision for what computers- and what’s it like at 20?
Atkinson: The first thing is, get rid of the keyboard and the mouse, and replace them with a smooth plate called a touch plate; it’s responsive to gentle, stroking touch. We can enter characters by touching on a character and stroking through others around it, and we can enter whole- instead of typing i-n-g, we’re typing “ing” – we’re entering text at a higher level. Shift key and the whole thing becomes a touching-pointing device. Forget this teeny little scratch pad on your portable. So, one is the touch plate. Another avenue is that as computers get smaller and ubiquitous, working with computers has to enter into a dialogue, not this thing where you’re commanding the computer, but where actually you’re having a conversation. The computers have to get to where they actually understand the flow of a conversation. It’s not just a speechrecognition thing. It’s a language understanding problem. And when it does, we can have, like in the Ender series, a little crystal in our ear that’s listening to everything we’re listening to and whispering little things in our ear, and it’s connected into the wireless net.
Booch: You’re referring to Ender’s Game?
Atkinson: Yes, Ender’s Game and the whole series of Orson Scott Card books. I think the smaller we go, the more we need to rely on audible interfaces. And I think that programming needs to be a conversation of what it is you’re looking for. You say, well I want to do this, and then that’s ambiguous, but whatever you’re talking about, this other entity is asking you some questions about it, and you refine it.
Booch: Very cool. Andy, what are your thoughts?
Hertzfeld: Oh, a lot of what Bill said. I think that clearly the next really big frontier in user interface is going to be the language understanding. That really is as much of a leap as the graphic user interface was. There are lots of problems to be solved but it’s pretty fair, as Bill said, for the mobile application, the keyboard. I’ve been experimenting with little ideas in that space myself. The voice recognition software is really good today, but it doesn’t make sense to use it at your desktop because you can still do it better with the keyboard and the mouse. But suddenly, when you’re standing up, the keyboard and mouse are useless. Of course, computers are going to be everywhere. You’re going to need to have the computer on your person. So, the speech recognition I think is important. But I would say the next really important thing is getting the software industry on a level playing field, a place that’s really open to innovation. I think the way that’s going to happen is if the shared infrastructure becomes available and is owned by the community of its users and developers instead of a psychotically driven business force. And that’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen over the next year. So, it’s not the far years. I think once we have a level playing field open to innovation, we can start to really explore the possibilities better. And then I’ve been thinking about agent-type user interfaces. Bill’s into that too. But the graphic user interface, there’s always direct manipulation. If you’re steering it at the steering wheel, you can only do things while you’re at the steering wheel. Eventually we’re going to want to set up policies where the tireless computer can execute our policies for us, continuously, especially with the network.
Atkinson: Yes, drive me to work and let me know when we get there.
Hertzfeld: I think there’s a very fertile area right now in exploring and getting it right – like Apple more or less got right with the Mac – getting the agency-user interfaces right. Things that can happen while you’re not directly controlling it will be a frontier in the next few years.
In July 2010 Apple introduced, as a standard accessory, the Magic Trackpad, “the first Multi-Touch trackpad designed to work with your Mac desktop computer [which] uses the same Multi-Touch technology you love on the MacBook Pro [and] supports a full set of gestures, giving you a whole new way to control and interact with what’s on your screen”.
Also in 2010 Apple bought Siri, Inc. and in the October of 2011 integrated into the iPhone its product, the intelligent voice assistant, called Siri, which “lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more” without looking on the screen. Thanks to the “Eyes free” feature, Siri can also be used in a car, activated through a voice command button on the steering wheel, making users able to ask questions without taking their eyes off the road.
In 2012 Siri was also made available on other iOS devices such as recent iPod touch and iPad models.
It’s also worth mentioning that at least since October 2010 Google (for which Hertzfeld now works) has being testing the Google Driverless Car and as of September 2012 three U.S. states, Nevada, Florida and California, have passed laws permitting driverless cars.
Note: all pictures are “Courtesy of Apple”.
Introduced on the stage by Steve Jobs during the May 1999 WWDC Keynote, the “Mac OS Anthology” was a collection of many Mac OS operating systems to aid (registered) third party developers in testing their software for compatibility.
It was presented originally in the form of a boxset of 4 DVDs which included all of the releases of the Macintosh operating systems since System 7 ’til the current one which at the time was Mac OS 8.5.
The DVDs were chosen for their archival capacity and featured all of the international localizations of the systems, up to 25 languages.
According to Applefritter the back of the first four DVDs reads:
Worldwide System Software for Developers
From System 7 to Mac OS 8.5 and beyond
This DVD-ROM set is the first DVD offering from the Apple Developer Connection. The DVD format was selected because it delivers so much useful data on one convenient and easy-to-use medium. This collection is designed to assist you in extending your product’s reach into international markets and environments.
From an archived copy of the Apple website we also know the sale price: 199 USD, and just 149 for those ADC members who ordered a copy before May 14. In 2000 the price was discounted to just 99 dollars.
Volumes 5 and 6 were devoted to Mac OS 8.6, just introduced at the aforementioned 1999 WWDC so the contents of the DVDs, which by the way are not bootable, at the end of the year became as follows:
Disc 1: 7.0, 7.0.1, 7.1, 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 7.5, 7.5.3, 7.5.5 Update, 7.6.1, OS 8.0
– Disc 2: OS 8 (continued), OS 8.1
– Disc 3: OS 8.1 (continued)
– Disc 4: OS 8.1 (continued), OS 8.5, OS 8.5.1
– Disc 5: OS 8.6
– Disc 6: OS 8.6 (continued)
Later, in February of 2000 Apple offered to ADC developers two more volumes for Mac OS 9 (in 15 languages) collecting the other four in a new, second boxset labeled “2000 edition”.
After that, in 2001, the Mac OS Anthology again grew to include two more DVDs. These were to be the last additions, featuring Mac OS 9.0.4, 9.1 and the first Mac OS X and brought the grand total to 10 discs.
Bill Fernandez describes himself as an “User Interface Architect” but he is much, much more. Being one of the first employees he has contributed immensely to Apple’s growth and development in various areas and has helped in the development of the Apple I, II and of course of the Macintosh.
We contacted him and he graciously and provided us with answers to our questions, covering in the process quite a big chunk of Apple’s history and also revealing interesting tidbits about his contribution to some well-known products, for which we thank him.
Stories of Apple: At Apple you worked as a hardware engineer, software developer, interface designer, project manager. Would you tell us more in detail a bit about all of your various roles?
Bill Fernandez: Shortly after Woz and Jobs incorporated Apple as a formal company they hired me as an Electronic Technician. Initially I worked in the garage of the Jobs family home where Steve’s dad had set up some workbenches for us. Later we moved into our first office on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, CA, and then to our first Apple building on Bandley Drive, also in Cupertino. Over that time period I did a wide variety of technical tasks to assist and augment the efforts of the engineers and managers we werer rapidly hiring. For example:
- I ran a lot of errands.
- I built a burn-in box for the Apple I circuit boards (we’d put a dozen computer boards in a box that kept them hot while running so as to force any that were likely to fail early in their lives to fail in the first couple of days so we could fix them and insure that they’d be reliable once we shipped them).
- I drew the first complete schematic of the Apple II on drafting vellum so that we could make blueprint copies for everyone that needed them.
- When we received the first printed circuit boards for the Apple II, I assembled the first one.
- I built a burn-in box for the Apple II circuit boards.
- I modified a TV set to accept direct input from an Apple II.
- I taught Jobs how to use super glue to attach a speaker to the Apple II base plate (the secret is to use an extremely thin coating of the glue).
- And lots of other things.
After about a year and a half I left Apple, then returned in October of 1981 to become about the fifteenth member of the Macintosh development team, and stayed at Apple for the next twelve years.
Happily, I was given my old employee number (number 4), and my new title was “Member of Technical Staff”. Again I was a general technical resource and jack-of-all-trades, but this time at a higher level.
My role shifted as the needs of the group evolved. I laid out the floorplan for the first dedicated Macintosh building and coordinated our move into it. I kept the engineering lab stocked with tools, parts, and equipment. I managed a technician.
When we needed someone to oversee the development of the first external disk drive I became the project manager for that product, managing all the engineering work, travelling to Japan to work with Sony, working with the plastic molding company and so forth.
Legendary developer, hacker, but also talented storyteller, Andy Hertzfeld was a key member of the Macintosh team throughout the 80s.
Together with Bill Atkinson he created the software core around which the computer “for the rest of us” revolved. Also very important was his enthusiasm in involving other creative people (among them, Susan Kare) to the team and last but not least his tireless chronicling -even when working for other businesses- of the folklore(s) of Apple and The Macintosh.
Since the Macintosh is now 25 we got in touch with Andy, who immediately agreed to answer to our questions on his role and involvement in Apple and other projects throughout the years, for which we thank him immensely.
Stories of Apple: What are your fondest memories of the work you did on the Macintosh?
Andy Hertzfeld: My fondest memory is probably the day of the introduction, which was the culmination of three years of hard work, and the day it finally hit the streets, becoming real to the world at large. But there are plenty of other fond memories, many of which I wrote about in my book (see the story “You Guys Are in Big Trouble” for example).
SoA: Do you feel the original Mac’s legacy is still present in the current Mac lineup?
AH: Sure, I think the unique spirit of the original Macintosh lives on in the current machines. One obvious reason is Steve Jobs – his strong values imbue the original Macintosh as well as the current ones. But even in the mid-nineties, before Steve returned to Apple, the Macs of the time still had much of the playful, rebellious character of the original.
Caroline Rose joined the Mac Team at Apple in June 1982.
Although she didn’t appear in any official pictures, interviews or promotional material of the time, her pivotal role in the developing of Mac software is undisputable and has been honoured more than once by her colleagues.
Caroline was the technical writer of Mac development team, producing most of the first three volumes of “Inside Macintosh“, the official guide for third party software developers. Her systematic approach to clarity also helped internal Apple developers who, thanks to Caroline remarks, sometimes rewrote their software improving it substantially.
Caroline left Apple in 1986 but later returned to Infinite Loop becoming the editor of a journal for Mac developers: in the meantime she kept herself busy managing the publications group at another important (and Apple-related) computer venture, NeXT. After that, in the last 12 years she has worked as an independent technical writer and editor.
We got in touch with Caroline and she graciously agreed to answer some questions about her work at Apple and most of all about the early days of the Macintosh, which this year has turned 25 years old.
Stories of Apple: Can you tell us how did you end up working for Apple?
Caroline Rose: I was working at Tymshare, down the block from Apple, when they called me. They had been having difficulties with a writer who wasn’t technical enough, whereas I had not only writing experience but also programming experience. Someone I used to work with at Tymshare who had left for Apple highly recommended me. I breezed through the interview (and the rest is history ;-).