ARMageddon and ARMistice

Filed under: Hardware

Twenty five years ago, in May 1992, at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Chicago, Apple CEO John Sculley previewed Newton, a groundbreaking pen-based “personal digital assistant” technology. Manager and Newton champion Michael Tchao declared it “so easy to use that it actually assists the user”.

But the black, videocassette-sized device, with a 3-by-5-inch screen shown to the CES attendees wasn’t really working. (more…)

Sunday 01 October 2017, 11:49 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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Newton: the right idea at the wrong time?

Filed under: Hardware,People,Software

NewtonApple considered it to be its biggest opportunity since the introduction of the Macintosh and a chance to reinvent itself. But after ten years of development, spending more than 100 USD Million and five years on the market selling just 300000 units, it was clear that the Newton was not a new device “for the rest of us” and definitely not Infinite Loop’s future.

The project, started in 1987 as a pen computing platform and focused on a smaller size and scope after 1991 pitch by Product Marketing Manager Michael Tchao to Apple’s CEO John Sculley, was launched in 1993 and was killed in 1998 by the new interim CEO, Steve Jobs, who discontinued the last products to use Newton technology, the MessagePad 2100 and the eMate 300. [For the record, five months before Jobs had stated in an email that the eMate had a “bright future”, and it looked like both the State of Texas and Australia were planning of adopting the device to replace students textbooks and aging PC computers, respectively.]

The Newton had failed on the market and Apple was betting all of its resources and money in the evolution of the Macintosh and a new NeXT-based operating system. Tchao had already left Apple, in 1994, as had the Newton’s main developers, Steve Capps and Walter Smith, who in 1996 seeked refuge at Microsoft. (more…)

Tuesday 03 September 2013, 7:08 am
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A chat with Jay Elliot

Filed under: Books,People

Jay Elliot has been part of Apple during its first incredible growth, in the early Eighties. He met Steve Jobs in a restaurant and was offered a job, where he became a Senior Vice President
The rest, as they say, is history, and Elliot has chronicled those years and his thoughts about Steve Jobs and Product Marketing in “The Steve Jobs Way”, a book he cowrote with William L. Simon.

Jay Elliot in BolognaI had the chance to speak a bit with him during his promotional tour for the italian edition, which was published by Hoepli.

Stories of Apple: How long were you at Apple?
Jay Elliot: I was at Apple from 1980 to 1986. Late part of 1980 to the late part of 1986.

(more…)

Thursday 08 December 2011, 3:00 pm
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