This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 1991-04-29 at 12:00 p.m.
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Open Letter To Apple

by Adam C. Engst

Editor's Note: Below is the final draft of the letter I will be sending to Apple and many of the Macintosh publications. If you support the letter as it stands and desire to be included as a signatory, please send me an email message stating that you support the letter and wish to be included as a signatory. Please include your full name and snail/email addresses - I want this to be as official as possible. If you do not wish to use your work address, fine by me - I don't want to get anyone in trouble.

Many thanks to all of you who have already sent email supporting the letter, and I wish to thank Jim Gaynor especially for doing most of the work. I am merely picking up where he was forced to leave off, and I hope I will be able to produce as fine a finished product as he would have.

Sincerely, Adam C. Engst, TidBITS Editor and pseudo-chair of the NewROMs group.

An Open Letter to Apple Computer, Inc.

With the advent of System 7.0, 32-bit Addressing, and the new low-cost Macintoshes, Apple Computer has shown that it remains committed to enhancing the capabilities of the Macintosh line of computers without abandoning its users. However, in that effort to advance technology, past technologies should not be abandoned haphazardly, nor should unfulfilled potentials be left unrealized.

Apple advertised and documented the Macintosh II, IIx, IIcx, and SE/30 as having the capability to address as much as 128 MB of memory, an amount that should be sufficient for most users years into the future. In addition, Apple had the foresight to manufacture the Macintosh IIx, IIcx, and SE/30 with their System ROMs on SIMMs. This feature, touted by Apple as a selling point, was to allow these machines to easily upgrade their System ROMs at such time as that became necessary. That time rapidly approaches.

Users discovered that the current System ROMs for these Macintoshes are not "32-bit Clean." Thus, rather than having 128 MB of memory space available as they believed, users of these Macintoshes are limited to 16 MB - even less after the addition of expansion cards. Businesses, educational institutions, and individuals have invested in these Macintoshes, and although 16 MB may be adequate for many users, many others already find that limit restrictive. As Apple continues to move towards full 32-bit Cleanliness in its software and hardware, more users will encounter this 16 MB barrier, and find their otherwise capable Macintoshes hamstrung by "dirty" ROMs.

Users and administrators have looked to Apple for an initiative, for some plan of upgrading the ROMs of these Macintoshes, but none has come forth. Apple designed the Macintosh II, IIx, IIcx, and SE/30 to be easily upgraded but has neither utilized the upgrade potential of these systems nor announced an intent to do so.

We, the users, owners, and administrators of these Macintosh computers, would like to see Apple make a public statement regarding its plans to make a ROM upgrade available. We would hope that this upgrade be made available within a reasonable time frame, and at a reasonable cost to businesses, educational institutions, and individuals alike. We understand that Apple may wish to implement a strict return policy on the old ROMs to prevent unauthorized Macintosh clones. We also understand that Apple may wish to add additional features to such an upgrade, and that those features may add to the time required. A quality product is worth the wait required for its production, as is shown by the eagerly-anticipated System 7.0. Still, we hope that Apple Computer will recognize the unfulfilled potential of those Macintoshes with "dirty" ROMs and provide them with the means to realize their full 32-bit potential.

We thank you for your commitment to the Macintosh User Community.