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.
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Tuesday 16 February 2016, 12:00 pm
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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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