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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The Lisa/Macintosh XL, one of the “most unforgettable old Macs”

Filed under: Hardware

This summer I noticed a question on Quora, asking “What are the most unforgettable old Mac computers?”

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While most of the answers (predictably) waxed poetic about mainstays such as original or the G4 iMac, the TAM (Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh), the Portable or some odd but cool looking model such as the Macintosh TV, I chose to go against the grain and listed the following choices:

-) Macintosh XL: Lisa born again as a Macintosh and a indespensable development tool in the early years
 
-) Macintosh SE/30: fast and powerful, but still compact as the first one
 
-) Macintosh Quadra 900/950: the biggest, heaviest, baddest Mac ever
 
-) PowerBook Duos: coupled with the DuoDock they were a groundbreaking concept
 
-) white iBooks/PowerBooks with IBM G3 processors: insanely great battery life for the time
 

Shrine Of Apple: Lisa Pascal Workshop 3.0

While the speed and power of the SE/30 or Quadras are a well-known fact and many have lauded the virtues of old PowerBooks (I am among those) I think I should expand a bit and offer more context on the first item, i.e. the importance of Lisa/Mac XL during the early years of the Macintosh’s life.

When in January 23 1985 Apple renamed the Lisa 2/10 to Macintosh XL, thanks to the addition of MacWorks XL, a Lisa program that allowed 64K Macintosh ROM emulation, it stressed the Lisa/XL had way more memory and storage space than the early 128K/512K Macs. (more…)

Tuesday 27 October 2015, 4:22 pm
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Mister Macintosh

Mister MacintoshIn the Eighties a stylized little man with an overcoat and hat was etched on some early Macintosh motherboards and also appeared on some rare merchandising items.

Known as “Mr. Macintosh” or “Macintosh Man”, the character was concocted by Steve Jobs who in 1982 became of the opinion that the upcoming “computer for the rest of us” needed a mascot.

When Mac developer Andy Hertzfeld enquired about Mister Macintosh, Jobs told him he was

“a mysterious little man who lives inside each Macintosh. He pops up every once in a while, when you least expect it, and then winks at you and disappears again.”

Jobs also added that the appearance should

“be so quick that you won’t be sure if you saw him or not. We’ll plant references in the manuals to the legend of Mr. Macintosh, and no one will know if he’s real or not.”

folon_mrmacThe idea was eventually abandoned but Mr. Macintosh lived on, at least for a while, both in hardware and in software.

Jobs had already commissioned a little drawing to belgian artist Folon, who drew a mysterious character in a “Macintosh” overcoat and hat. This drawing was used on some early hardware boards and promotional material.

Andy Hertzfeld couldn’t fit an image in the very small ROM of the Mac, but he modifified the system software that showed the menus of the Mac. In this way a developer could eventually make Mr. Macintosh appear on screen by calling a special memory location called… MrMacHook.
Hertzfeld doesn’t know if anybody ever actually implemented Mr. Macintosh or used the “MrMacHook” location for something worthwhile.

The image of Mr. Macintosh/Macintosh man is from bitsavers.vt100.net, while the pin is taken from folklore.org

Friday 13 March 2015, 5:53 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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The Macs of “Death Note”

Filed under: Did you know that...

Published by Shueisha in Japan (and by Viz Media in the US) “Death Note” is a thriller manga about a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook granting the ability to kill anyone, knowing his/her name and face.

deathnote-logo

Written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, “Death Note” was first serialized in Shueisha’s japanese manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 2003 to May 2006 and then the 108 chapters were collected into 12 tankōbon volumes between May 2004 and October 2006.

deathnote-chapter1-appledisplay

Why are you reading about a manga on Stories of Apple? Because the illustrator, Obata, has chosen to prominently feature a number of Apple products throughout the [comic] book. Many of the characters, among which are the genius detectives known as “L” and “N”, use Macintosh computers* in their research, monitoring and communication work.

Here’s a list of Apple products appearing in “Death Note”, chapter by chapter, with technical notes and (edited and enhanced) pictures.

Chapter 1: Boredom

At the end of chapter 1 we see “L” for the first time. He is sitting on the floor of an unfurnished room, in front of a Power Macintosh G4 and a matching Apple Studio/Cinema Display, probably a 20″ or 23″, plus one of the Harman/Kardon-designed round external Apple Pro Speakers.

deathnote-chapter1-powermacg4wdisplayandprospeaker
(more…)

Wednesday 21 January 2015, 3:00 pm
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