The ultimatum and the storm in the Apple

In the late 80s in one of the groups of Apple Computer had a riot. He ended by storm and led to major changes in company policy.

In 1997, without the dedicated intervention of Steve jobs, Apple Computer would cease to exist. The autopsy revealed multiple pathology, mistakes the company has made very many, but the immediate cause of the end would be obvious: in the late 90s the company was not a “modern” operating system, no hope of any quickly such a system to get hold of.

About 10 years before the company, if not in the hands, at arm’s length, such a system has been. The goal was formulated, the real, and this was the “next great thing”, which he dreamed all Apple engineers.

The background

If you do not spend time figuring out the causes of the incident, the participants of those events seem to us abnormal eccentric people suffering from mental disorders of varying severity. It would be funny, curious and would love to – but it would not be true.

From 1984 to 1988 in the operating system Mac and have invested hundreds of thousands of man-hours of skilled labor, taught her to work with different processors, peripherals, third-party added dozens of witty inventions, but in fact it was the same OS the first Mac.

Instead of breakthroughs and innovations change the world and the “next great thing” engineers were engaged in routine and not very exciting work. And Apple engineers are a special caste. To work in the company dreamed of many, competition was very tough selection. People (talented and ambitious) sought here to participate in something great.

Move on to other projects (the company has never suffered from a lack of exciting, unusual designs) agreed unit wishing to open own project was even less – people just started to leave. Mostly the best.

Leaving signed NDA (nondisclosure agreement), and promise not to work in competing companies within six months, or year, for which they paid monetary compensation. Office Macintosh System Software has evolved into the Institute of training and self-evaluation.

But not only unsatisfied ambitions and boredom was the cause of fermentation in the team, in 1988, the operating system Macs are already behind Unices, and OS/2 on the most important parameters, but from friends, gone in the NeXT, people were informed about the “next great thing”.

It was urgent, literally “yesterday” to create a new operating system, but at the very top of the company where decisions were made and resources are allocated, humble babble engineers and middle managers is not taken seriously.

Not to say that thought about it. Jean Louis Gasse was painted by a strategy to create a new computer platform, to replace Mac am was supposed to come the Jaguars, two compatible hardware and software, but different purpose breeds, for professionals and for the masses, in price ranges from 999 to 9999 dollars.

Mac did the trick, Mac must go. On the top of the company, rampant violent fantasies, the proximity to the stars bothered to soberly assess the situation. No one knew exactly how to manage large companies in the young computer industry, so that neither Scully or Jean-Louis… innocent. This is the fate.

In 1988, when development of System 6 has been completed, and here was to go to the arena, to the applause and hooting of the audience, this story happened.

Rebellion and the “gang of five”

Owen, Linzmayer mentions in Apple Confidential 2.0 about this story, not too detailed, but tell them the date (March 1987) refuted by the testimony of its members and, even more important, the time out System 6. The best and most advanced operating system Macs of the early classical period.

Performing their duty, five outstanding engineers of the Macintosh System Software presented with the company’s management an ultimatum, which was presented for transfer up to the head of the branch of the Gifford Calende and his Deputy Sheila Brady. They never asked, they threatened and put a condition: either they leave the company or the company carries out strategy of creation of development of the operating system and begins to work on her.

Gifford and Sheila assessed the rebels very highly and believed that their departure will cause Apple trudnoperevarimoy damage. And informing Scully and Jean Louis (head all projects in the company, his immediate superior), promised to solve the problem.

If you have ever watched TV (or video), you know how management of large corporations “solve” the issues. About the way it was.

And evidence of the specific circumstances of the assault I have no more. 10-15 years ago, the Network has been the memories of its participants with the details and parts today there is only evidence that he had indeed taken place. And a little information about the nature of the event.

First, the most senior of the rebels (Erich Ringewald) was invited to Jean Louis, “on the carpet”. While talking to him he looked Scully. And…


Jean Louis Gasse was organized for managers and leading engineers of the Macintosh System Software, as well as their families away on the Pacific coast, was removed (entirely) to the hotel and in the evening, in one of the meeting rooms was held to brainstorm. The classic method of finding solutions to complex problems, with the end of the 30-ies of the last century, when this method was invented by one of the founders of BBD&O, Alex Osborn, each year, these storms are thousands and thousands of times, but this storm left a mark in history.

The role of the Commission in the analysis and the evaluation of proposals was performed by Jean-Louis Gasse, Gifford calenda and Sheila Brady. The stormtroopers were given a stack of standard hotel cards small size and three colors (all colors that were in Vogue in the hotel) – blue, pink and red.

The blue was asked to write suggestions for the next version of the operating system, rose to offer the functionality to its immediate future, red could Express their wildest dreams.

In short, all the first soaked. With families and children. On the beach, for a day at the company’s expense. Then, by the fireplace and a good glass of wine, came up with the strategy.

In the blue system (Blue) has been proposed to implement virtual memory, multitasking (co-operative), vector fonts (at least PostScript, but better than your own), communication between different applications (Publish and Subscribe, if anyone remembers them), the 32-bit addressing, and many other interesting things. According to the participants and the Commission to develop the blue project required two years. In other words, 1990.

In the pink system (Pink) was supposed to already preemptive multitasking, microkernel, support light threads (threads) at the level of the kernel, virtual memory, protected memory, graphics libraries of the new generation, and much more. The system had to be object oriented (as NeXTSTEP and all operating systems today). Its development was to be completed by market launch of the new system (System 8) in 1992 or 1993.

In the red system was embedded speech recognition and handwritten text, machine intelligence, and many, many more. As the saying goes, fantasy in the next room.

Summing up the results of brainstorming and drinking a toast to the success of hopeless cases, participants and the Commission joined his half in the ballroom of the hotel.

At the end of this event in the Macintosh System Software came from Blue (few hundred people) and Pink (20 people, the most advanced and enthusiastic), and the work began.

System 7 (Blue)

The blue team had a dozen brainstorming sessions with the project system (which is called the Big Bang – the big Bang, which started the history of the universe) was an ambitious and realistic.

All the wishes of the historic assault by the fireplace and a glass of wine was included in the project and implemented in the first version. From the use of the assembler decided to give up. Already in those Macs that are sold, the size was not so important as in 1984, functionality was much more important.

The system was so much more demanding of the RAM size, but this circumstance was considered acceptable. Moreover, the progress does not stand still, and the full 32-bit addressing, one of the features of the Big Bang could have almost limitless amounts – up to 4 gigabytes. In 1988, it was fantastic. It seemed that this will not happen ever.

Aliases (aliases), basic support for networking and file-sharing were added in the process of implementation.

At WWDC 1989 the new system was presented to the public, but became the news number one in native Mac and anti-Mac-native press. The conference showed the current early version of System 7, the impression of these demonstrations was amazing.

Scully promised that the system will hit the market in the first quarter of 1990 for a person from the East coast, brought up in the strict traditions of doing business, it was natural. In 1988, the leaders of the Macintosh System Software has promised to release the system in 1990, then it should be.

In 1991 a new system (or rather, its early beta version, in which not all the innovations worked) was forcibly installed on all Macs in the company (and its subsidiaries Claris). People suffered from its instability, identified bugs in the most unexpected places, showed a lack of restraint (I was told the victims of this sadistic experiment), and in 1992, tired of the moans and complaints, the company allowed everyone, except those who worked in the Macintosh System Software, to return to the good old “six”…

With very few exceptions all were in System 7. All the more so with each passing month she became more reliable, and the real fighting the engineers who performed the role of technical support, used on demand and cope with the most difficult problems. A complaint was even taped.

It seems that in 1991, when Microsoft responded to the announcement System 7 the promise of the new operating system, code name Chicago, System 7 has another code name – Capone. In honor of al Capone, the famous gangster who kept at Bay the entire city of Chicago.

The system has released 13 may 1993. It was distributed on CD ROM or on 15 floppy disks with a capacity of 1.44 M. She was destined to be the main operating system of Macs prior to the beginning of our century.

Mac OS 8 was the same System 7, renamed it for purely political reasons – to cut off from her clones, the license of which was in black and white stated that they are allowed to clone Mac OS 7.x.

Mac OS 9 also was System 7, this time renamed to beauty, and MacOS X (that’s “ten” not “x”!) look the next version.

System 8 (Pink)

But with the System 8 from the beginning that something had gone wrong. Because of the paranoid secrecy about what is happening in other companies, developers groups were better informed than other projects at Apple.

Object-oriented operating system developed in teams Newton and PocketCrystal, over the next generation graphics (the QuickDraw GX and QuickDraw 3D) also has worked, all problems and difficulties had to solve themselves – and until 1990, almost nothing was achieved.

Three of the former gang of five soon left the company.

And senior management of the company, having learned that the operating system is important and very prestigious, and deciding that operating systems from Apple must conquer all the world’s platform, began to realize their Napoleonic plans.

In 1990, the team was joined by hundreds of people, and after two years early, but very good, its beta version has already made an impression. It showed IBM engineers, she worked on a computer with an Intel processor – and began another story.

Together with Novell has been developed yet another operating system based on Pink, StarTrek.

All of this was fascinating to read the news “from the field” was exciting, but no one had thought to think through your plans at least two steps ahead. What it all could lead, analysts wrote in the beginning. But…

As a result, the work of hundreds of people were scattered to the wind. Apple has lost all their achievements under the new system, and in 1995 he had to start all over again. Mozart (7.5), Copland (8.0) and Gershwin (9.0).

But that’s another story.

0 Comments on “The ultimatum and the storm in the Apple”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *