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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Mac OS 9: still alive and kicking after 15 years

Filed under: Did you know that...

Apple introduced Mac OS 9, the last edition of the “classic” Mac OS line, in 1999 and buried it less than three years after in May 2002, at its WWDC (WorldWide Developer Conference).

During the WWDC keynote, Steve Jobs officiated a mock ceremony where he actually buried a giant box of Mac OS 9 in a coffin after a humorous and a bit irriverent funeral oration, complete with organ accompaniment.

And yet, despite its official sendoff, the “old” OS has refused to rest “in the great bit bucket in the sky” where the iCEO so hastily put it.

Mac OS 9 has not only been the main OS for quite a few years during the early and immature phase of Mac OS X’ existence, but there are users stubbornly and happily using it right now, in 2014. They are still making the most of it on supported Macs and some have even successfully hacked unsupported models harnessing all of the power of the PowerPC chips.

You see, at the time of Mac OS 9’s “death” Apple not only put all of its resources behind the newer OS, but also made it impossible to natively run the OS on its new Macintoshes, relegating it to the emulated Classic environment. Starting from 2003 Apple introduced new Mac which could only boot in Mac OS X. In 2004 this forced “transition” was a reality, also thanks to the fourth major release of OS X, Panther, which cut support for older Macs such as beige G3s and the “Wall Street” PowerBook G3s. (more…)

Thursday 15 January 2015, 4:00 pm
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One More Thing

The G4 Cube, Airport technology, the iMac G4, the 12″ PowerBook, iTunes for Windows, the G5, the iPod mini, Safari for Windows, the first MacBook Pro, the iPod touch: these are very different products belonging to different product lines and different strategies. But they do have one thing in common. All of them have been introduced as… One More Thing.

For more than a decade Steve Jobs has topped off his already impressive presentations with a final jolt, using a technique made famous by actor Peter Falk in his Columbo role: employing a carefully staged offhand remark at the end of the show he revved up again the audience’s attention and ended the presentation with a bang.
Not all of Jobs presentations included a “One More Thing” or used these exact words, but many did and the technique proved very popular and iconic and the phrase was used – in 2005 – as the motto for one of Apple’s Special Events.

Jobs first used this technique in January 1998, at the MacWorld San Francisco. (more…)

Friday 04 October 2013, 3:00 pm
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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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