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TidBITS#320/25-Mar-96

So you think you know how the Macintosh came into existence? Pioneer Mac developer Bruce Horn sheds some light on the Mac's early development. Also, check out the latest news on PageMill and SiteMill updates, details on the new version of APS PowerTools, and last week's lost Newton MailBIT. Finally, we round out the issue with another installment of InterviewBITS, this time with Darryl Peck, founder of Inline Software and Cyberian Outpost

Topics:

Copyright 1996 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <info@tidbits.com> Comments: <editors@tidbits.com>


This issue of TidBITS sponsored in part by:


MailBITS/25-Mar-96

If you're interested in reading a short interview I did recently and learning more about the computer book industry, check out: [ACE]

<http://www.studiob.com/cafe.html>

EarthLink Network Sponsoring TidBITS -- We're pleased to welcome our latest sponsor, the national Internet provider EarthLink Network. EarthLink is best known for expanding from being a Los Angeles-area provider to offering flat-rate nationwide dialup service in 210 cities and also an inexpensive (as it goes) 800 number for dialup access. EarthLink offers true Internet connections, and their TotalAccess package provides an automated signup process via a customized version of MacPPP, and installs licensed copies of Netscape and Eudora Light.

I've followed EarthLink Network from its beginnings, because in a small way I'm responsible for their existence. Way back in late 1993 or early 1994, EarthLink founder Sky Dayton bought my book, Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, and - after reading it - sent me mail asking what I thought about creating an integrated Internet program. He was ready to find funding and hire programmers, but I talked him out of it over the course of a few messages. Then, in June of 1994, I got mail from Sky again, saying he'd put the integrated Internet program project on the back burner and was starting an Internet service provider in LA. At the time, there were hardly any providers in LA, and none, if I remember right, who knew much about the Mac and PPP connections.

I remember thinking then, as I do now, that being an Internet service provider isn't a job I'd like to have, but Sky and the folks he hired to work with him at EarthLink have done an incredible job of growing the company, so much so that at times they've had troubling training people quickly enough. When I stopped by the EarthLink booth at Macworld SF this year and asked for Sky, the woman I spoke with had only been working with EarthLink for a few days and didn't even realize who Sky was. Such are the problems with growth, and going national opened the floodgates. Once you're caught up in the floodwaters, though, it's best to go all out, and I wish them luck. [ACE]

Newtons in the Dark -- Apple recently announced the Newton MessagePad 130, which resembles its predecessor, the MessagePad 120, but adds several key features, including a user-controllable backlit screen, a new writing surface that's more durable and less prone to glare, and 512K of additional system memory. The 130 has 8 MB of ROM and 2.5 MB of RAM, resulting in 1,361K of RAM available to the user. Apple expects the 130 to be available beginning in April for $799. Apple's propaganda didn't mention any upgrade programs from previous models. [ACE]

As the Update Mill Turns -- In the wake of its withdrawal of PageMill 1.0.1, Adobe has quickly released PageMill 1.0.2. PageMill devotees will recall that 1.0.1 brought PageMill up to the level of the PageMill portion of Adobe's recently released SiteMill 1.0 (see TidBITS-317). But, both PageMill 1.0.1 and SiteMill 1.0 have a problem which manifested itself by damaging graphics. The PageMill 1.0 to 1.0.2 and 1.0.1 to 1.0.2 updaters fix the problem, as does the SiteMill 1.0 to SiteMill 1.0.2 updater.

You can download updaters for PageMill 1.0, PageMill 1.0.1, and SiteMill from Adobe's Web site. Adobe's FTP site currently offers a PageMill 1.0 to 1.0.2 updater and a SiteMill updater, but no PageMill 1.0.1 to 1.0.2 updater. Adobe has also posted updated PageMill documentation, which now includes an index. [TJE]

<http://www.adobe.com/Software.html>
<ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/Applications/PageMill/>


New Version of APS PowerTools

by Florin Neumann <florin@quartz.geology.utoronto.ca>

APS Technologies, a leading vendor of data storage devices for the Mac [and a sponsor of TidBITS -Adam] has recently released version 4.0 of its disk management utility, APS PowerTools, which is bundled with every APS drive.

<http://www.apstech.com/>

ProSoft Engineering wrote version 3 of APS PowerTools for APS, but after the release of version 3.6 the contract with ProSoft was discontinued, and APS licensed PowerTools 4.0.x from CharisMac Engineering. Version 3.6 has several small bugs, which ProSoft - though no longer bound by contract to support it - fixed in version 3.8. APS, though it no longer supports PowerTools 3, has placed upgrades to version 3.8 on its FTP site. These actions are both remarkable and commendable.

PowerTools 4 -- With version 4.0, PowerTools now supports a wide range of disk drives, including IDE drives and the new low-cost removable Zip drive. In other respects, though, version 4 offers the same capabilities as version 3, albeit with a different interface. I'm not as fond of version 4's interface; it feels more sluggish than 3.8 on my LC 475 and Power Mac 7100/80, and there are a few confusing items. For instance, in version 4, SCSI ID 7 (which 3.8 doesn't show because it's always assigned to the Mac CPU) is identified only as "INITIATOR" - a term familiar to SCSI propeller-heads that may confuse users unfamiliar with SCSI terminology. (There's no entry in the manual index for initiator.) One good thing about version 4.0, though, is the Help menu, which concisely describes every command.

The Drive Controls control panel from version 3 has been replaced by the APT Extension/APT Mounter application tandem. The APT Extension loads device drivers at startup and displays a SCSI bus status window, showing the SCSI devices as they mount; the APT Mounter is used to configure the extension and to mount devices after startup. An optional performance-enhancing utility that lets users change internal drive settings, APS PowerControl, comes with PowerTools as the APS PowerTools Professional Package.

APS PowerTools 3 and 4 are intended to support only APS drives and although APS PowerTools 4's end-user license is for APS drives only, it supports a wider range of drives than version 3, many of which were never sold by APS.

Should you upgrade to APS PowerTools 4? If you're happy with version 3, sticking with or upgrading to version 3.8 may be your easiest option. If you have drives from other manufacturers - especially something like a Zip drive - and you don't mind the backup/reformat/restore process involved, you can't beat the cost of upgrading.

Upgrades -- If you already have PowerTools 4, note that the program is currently at version 4.0.4. Version 4.0.4 contains numerous bug fixes and enhancements (check the PowerTools Updates directory on the APS FTP site for a complete list of changes). Updates from older versions of PowerTools 3.x to version 3.8 are also available.

<ftp://ftp.apstech.com/PowerTools_Updates/> (use with Anarchie or Fetch)
<ftp://ftp.apstech.com/Pub/PowerTools_Updates/> (use with Web browsers)

Users of PowerTools version 3 who wish to upgrade to version 4 should contact APS Technologies Sales at 800/233-7550 or <sales@apstech.com>. The update costs $4.95 and is delivered by regular mail. If you decide to upgrade, note that - as is usual when switching from one disk formatting package to another - installing a new driver requires reinitializing (and thus a full backup and restore) the disk, because partition maps are different.

APS also has a separate CD-ROM support package called APS CD Autocache 1.1.2. It too is available as an inexpensive update for APS PowerTools 3 users, and updates from previous versions are available at the URLs below.

<ftp://ftp.apstech.com/APS_CD-Autocache/> (use with Anarchie or Fetch)
<ftp://ftp.apstech.com/Pub/APS_CD-Autocache/> (use with Web browsers)


On Xerox, Apple, and Progress

by Bruce Horn <bruce.horn@alumni.cs.cmu.edu>

[Any number of people will try to tell you about the origins of the Macintosh, but Bruce Horn was one of the people who made it happen. From 1973 to 1981, Bruce was a student in the Learning Research Group at Xerox, where Smalltalk, an interactive, object-oriented programming language, was developed. While there, he worked on various projects including the NoteTaker, a portable Smalltalk machine, and wrote the initial Dorado Smalltalk microcode for Smalltalk-76. At the Central Institute for Industrial Research in Oslo, Norway, in 1980, he ported Smalltalk-78 to an 8086 machine, the Mycron-2000.

At Apple (1981-1984), Bruce's contributions included the design and implementation of the Resource Manager, the Dialog Manager and the Finder (with implementation help from Steve Capps). He was also responsible for the type framework for documents, applications, and clipboard data, and a number of system-level design decisions. Since then, Bruce consulted on a variety of projects in the late 1980's at Apple and received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1993. He continues to work as a computer science consultant with Apple and other companies.]

Where It All Began -- For more than a decade now, I've listened to the debate about where the Macintosh user interface came from. Most people assume it came directly from Xerox, after Steve Jobs went to visit Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). This "fact" is reported over and over, by people who don't know better (and also by people who should!). Unfortunately, it just isn't true - there are some similarities between the Apple interface and the various interfaces on Xerox systems, but the differences are substantial.

Steve did see Smalltalk when he visited PARC. He saw the Smalltalk integrated programming environment, with the mouse selecting text, pop-up menus, windows, and so on. The Lisa group at Apple built a system based on their own ideas combined with what they could remember from the Smalltalk demo, and the Mac folks built yet another system. There is a significant difference between using the Mac and Smalltalk.

Smalltalk has no Finder, and no need for one, really. Drag-and-drop file manipulation came from the Mac group, along with many other unique concepts: resources and dual-fork files for storing layout and international information apart from code; definition procedures; drag-and-drop system extension and configuration; types and creators for files; direct manipulation editing of document, disk, and application names; redundant typed data for the clipboard; multiple views of the file system; desk accessories; and control panels, among others. The Lisa group invented some fundamental concepts as well: pull down menus, the imaging and windowing models based on QuickDraw, the clipboard, and cleanly internationalizable software.

Smalltalk had a three-button mouse and pop-up menus, in contrast to the Mac's menu bar and one-button mouse. Smalltalk didn't even have self-repairing windows - you had to click in them to get them to repaint, and programs couldn't draw into partially obscured windows. Bill Atkinson did not know this, so he invented regions as the basis of QuickDraw and the Window Manager so that he could quickly draw in covered windows and repaint portions of windows brought to the front. One Macintosh feature identical to a Smalltalk feature is selection-based modeless text editing with cut and paste, which was created by Larry Tesler for his Gypsy editor at PARC.

As you may be gathering, the difference between the Xerox system architectures and Macintosh architecture is huge; much bigger than the difference between the Mac and Windows. It's not surprising, since Microsoft saw quite a bit of the Macintosh design (API's, sample code, etc.) during the Mac's development from 1981 to 1984; the intention was to help them write applications for the Mac, and it also gave their system designers a template from which to design Windows. In contrast, the Mac and Lisa designers had to invent their own architectures. Of course, there were some ex-Xerox people in the Lisa and Mac groups, but the design point for these machines was so different that we didn't leverage our knowledge of the Xerox systems as much as some people think.

The hardware itself was an amazing step forward as well. It offered an all-in-one design, four-voice sound, small footprint, clock, auto-eject floppies, serial ports, and so on. The small, portable, appealing case was a serious departure from the ugly-box-on-an-ugly-box PC world, thanks to Jerry Manock and his crew. Even the packaging showed amazing creativity and passion - do any of you remember unpacking an original 128K Mac? The Mac, the unpacking instructions, the profusely-illustrated and beautifully-written manuals, and the animated practice program with audio cassette were tastefully packaged in a cardboard box with Picasso-style graphics on the side.

Looking Back -- In my opinion, the software architectures developed at Xerox for Smalltalk and the Xerox Star were significantly more advanced than either the Mac or Windows. The Star was a tremendous accomplishment, with features that current systems haven't even started to implement, though I see OpenDoc as a strong advance past the Xerox systems. I have great respect for the amazing computer scientists at Xerox PARC, who led the way with innovations we all take for granted now, and from whom I learned a tremendous amount about software design.

Apple could have developed a more complex, sophisticated system rivaling the Xerox architectures. But the Mac had to ship, and it had to be relatively inexpensive - we couldn't afford the time or expense of the "best possible" design. As a "little brother" to the Lisa, the Macintosh didn't have multitasking or protection - we didn't have space for the extra code or stack required. The original Macintosh had extremely tight memory and disk constraints; for example, the Resource Manager took up less than 3,000 bytes of code in the ROM, and the Finder was only 46K on disk. We made many design decisions that we regretted to some extent - even at the time some of us felt disappointed at the compromises we had to make - but if we had done it differently, would we have shipped at all?

The Past and Future -- In many ways, the computing world has made remarkably small advances since 1976, and we continually reinvent the wheel. Smalltalk had a nice bytecoded multi-platform virtual machine long before Java. Object oriented programming is the hot thing now, and it's almost 30 years old (see the Simula-67 language). Environments have not progressed much either: I feel the Smalltalk environments from the late 1970's are the most pleasant, cleanest, fastest, and smoothest programming environments I have ever used. Although CodeWarrior is reasonably good for C++ development, I haven't seen anything that compares favorably to the Smalltalk systems I used almost 20 years ago. The Smalltalk systems of today aren't as clean, easy to use, or well-designed as the originals, in my opinion.

We are not even close to the ultimate computing-information-communication device. We have much more work to do on system architectures and user interfaces. In particular, user interface design must be driven by deep architectural issues and not just new graphical appearances; interfaces are structure, not image. Neither Copland nor Windows 95 (nor NT, for that matter) represent the last word on operating systems. Unfortunately, market forces are slowing the development of the next revolution. Still, I think you can count on Apple being the company bringing these improvements to next generation systems.

I'm sure some things I remember as having originated at Apple were independently developed elsewhere. But the Mac brought them to the world.

[This article originally appeared in Guy Kawasaki's Evangelist - for more information send email to <evangelist@macway.com>.]


InterviewBITS with Darryl Peck, Part 1 of 2

by Adam C. Engst <ace@tidbits.com>

Welcome to the second installment of InterviewBITS. This interview is with Darryl Peck <dpeck@cybout.com> whose name is less familiar than that of our previous interviewee, Peter N Lewis. Nonetheless, Darryl has been a major participant in the world of the Macintosh for years, and most recently, has expanded his horizons to the Internet. Darryl was president of the New York Mac Users' Group (NYMUG) for a year after being the group's sysop. Darryl then started Inline Software, a small Macintosh publishing firm known for some innovative utilities and about a dozen games, including the relatively recent PopupFolder and the Eddy Award-winning 3 in Three. After running Inline Software for six years, Darryl sold the company to Focus Enhancements, which has done little with the Inline products. Next, in mid-1995, Darryl founded Cyberian Outpost, a retailer of hardware and software on the Web. Cyberian Outpost is unusual in the Internet retailing market for being run primarily on Macs and catering more to the Macintosh world than many other Internet retailers.

<http://www.cybout.com>

[Darryl] It's a funny story. Inline was started purely by accident. An old friend and I had started a company called Inline Design that was meant to be a furniture and yacht design firm. While we were trying to pull that together, I went to northern California for a few months to write articles for magazines, mostly automotive-related (when I am not in front of my computer I am probably watching a race with my three-year-old daughter), and finally bought myself a Mac instead of writing on legal pads. I bought a Mac Plus, a $750 20 MB hard disk, an ImageWriter II, and a 1200 baud modem.

However my writing productivity went directly into the toilet as I discovered the world of BBSs and CompuServe. I slept an average of two hours a night for the first six weeks I had the Mac and actually wrote a few freeware HyperCard stacks that found their way around the planet. I think I downloaded every file on every Mac BBS in northern California within a few weeks. I couldn't get enough of it. I was seriously hooked on my Mac and thought of pitching a tent in Cupertino just to hang around Apple.

In any case, I returned to my native New York City, got heavily involved with NYMUG, and found out that the friend I started Inline with had actually been accepted as an Apple Developer. He did it just so he could buy a Mac II for half price, but for me, it was a gold mine of information and tons of cool stuff with Apple logos. I loved it! However, Apple called one day to ask what we had developed since that was a requirement to stay in the program. The thought of losing my flow of Apple stuff was so horrifying that I decided to find a way to stay in the program.

It turned out that my friend had a friend who was heavily into gaming and was just finishing a HyperCard-based game called Bomber, which he intended to post as shareware. I convinced him to let me publish it by saying that if we sold 5,000 copies we would have about $100,000 in return. He bought the proposal and off we went. Rather than start another company, I used the Inline Design name we had already registered. Since I did not anticipate this being much more than a way to stay in the developer's program, I didn't want to spend an extra dime. I was still working in the film business as a gaffer so I had to run Inline on my days off and at nights.

[Darryl] A gaffer does the lighting for film and television, although I lit mostly television commercials. I had been working as a gaffer for about 10 years when we started the design firm. Since the design firm never really got going, I continued to earn a living making commercials for Federal Express (the funny ones), McDonalds, Nissan, Miller Lite, etc.

And, if you want a great piece of trivia, the term gaffer comes from the old days in England when a gentleman went around lighting the gas lights each day at dusk. The tool he used to reach up to light the torch was called a gaffe. Now your readers know a top trade secret.

[Darryl] Meanwhile, back at Inline Design, in short time we had sold over 10,000 copies [of Bomber] and I made a decision to resign from the film craftsman union and devote myself to Inline. I didn't have much choice since I was running the company out of my studio apartment on the Upper West Side and manufacturing the product on the bed. I would shrink wrap boxes until four or five in the morning each night. Since we included a free pair of headphones in every box, and I had to buy them in bulk, I had cartons piled to the ceiling in every square inch of the tiny apartment. The neighbors thought something strange was going on, but then again, we had the police running through the building on a regular basis with their guns out looking for burglars, so it was easy to overlook the shrink wrap fumes.

Eventually I got married and moved to the woods in Sharon, Connecticut. My wife helped me run the company out of a spare room, and we got a company to manufacture the product. We came out with Darwin's Dilemma in 1990 and in 1991 released Swamp Gas Visits the USA, 3 in Three, and Mutant Beach. 3 in Three won the Eddy Award that year for best game. Swamp Gas was nominated as well, but lost out to Kid Pix. And, we finally hired our first employee.

As sales grew we decided to leave the house for a real office. So, we packed everything up and moved to a gorgeous 7,700 square foot, 150-year-old Victorian house that had been converted into corporate offices. We added more employees and released several more titles, including the Microseeds line of utilities that added considerably to our product line. New titles and re-released titles included Firefall Arcade, Swamp Gas Europe, INITPicker, Redux Deluxe, HAM, Icon 7, and PopupFolder.

[Darryl] There was no question that the rapid consolidation in the software industry was beginning to hurt us. It was difficult to compete with companies that could afford to lose $50 million in one year (Spectrum Holobyte). Then Microsoft entered the consumer market and hired a small crew of 500 people to make it happen. The writing was on the wall. It was time to get out.

We looked at many alternatives and felt pressure to move quickly. In hindsight, we made the wrong choice in a big way. It's no secret Focus has done nothing with the line and has lost a few of the titles completely due to lack of effort. As much as I would love to say more on this issue, I am contractually bound not to tell the real story. Too bad too, it's a good one...

[Darryl] Frankly, I needed a job. When I returned from my seven months of exile in Woburn, Massachusetts trying to run Inline for a company that didn't have a clue about software, I spent my first unemployed time in 23 years thinking about what to do. I had a few offers from software companies to run them, but I felt strongly that the time had passed for small, ill-funded software companies. So, I went to San Francisco for Macworld Expo, which I hadn't missed in nine years, and did some consulting there. The other thing I did there was buy your book, Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.

[Darryl] Although I had been an online junkie since I bought a Mac, I had never explored the Internet. I had spent thousands of hours on CompuServe, a few hours on AOL (never my favorite place), used CONNECT (how many of you remember that dismal affair?), tried Prodigy (for about 10 minutes), and ran a BBS for NYMUG. But on the plane home from San Francisco, I read Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh cover to cover and decided to become an Internet junkie.

I got home at around 2 AM, did some research on Internet service providers (ISPs), and was happily surfing the net by noon. The guys at Connix (my ISP) still think I'm a bit nuts. I told them I had to have an account right away and could not wait. Basically, I told them it was a matter of life or death. Dramatic, eh?

So, I fired up MacWeb (thanks for the disk in the book!) and saw the Web for the first time. Within a few minutes I knew I had found my place in life. I saw instantly that the Web would change everything. Global boundaries disintegrated. Computer platforms would become irrelevant. Retail would never be the same. OK, so maybe some of these ideas took a few weeks to put together, but I spent 12 to 16 hours a day on the Web and visited thousands of sites during that time.

Eventually, the idea of conducting computer retail on the Web began to form. I felt the Web provided huge benefits over paper-based catalogs and retail stores, and that by using the technology to its fullest, a virtual store could grab market share from the established players. Hundreds of hours went into the business plan and research. And since most of the research took place on the Web itself, it was a real pleasure putting in the time.

[Darryl] Yes. We are probably one of the very few making money. We are not making much, as we prefer to re-invest nearly all our earnings in growing the company, but there is no question that we have done extremely well.

[Tune in next week for the second part of this interview, in which Darryl talks about his experiences with Cyberian Outpost. -Adam]


Reviews/25-Mar-96


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