Some time ago, I was telling my grandfather about TidBITS and my books and all the stuff I do on the nets, and he asked, "So is Apple paying you for this?" I admit, I was a bit taken aback. No, they don’t pay me, they’ve never sponsored TidBITS, and there’s been little acknowledgment that the work I and every other Macintosh fan does is in any way appreciated, or even noticed. Despite Apple’s general ingratitude, many of us continue to support the Macintosh merely because we believe it’s the right thing to do.
Thus, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that Apple has recognized some outstanding members of the Macintosh community. On 03-Sep-94, Apple’s Advanced Technology Group (the group chartered with driving long-term technology research and development) announced eleven "Cool Tools" awards. Rick LeFaivre, vice president of the Advanced Technology Group, said, "Through the creation of these ‘Cool Tools’ awards, our goal was to recognize the work of some of these unsung heroes who have made very significant contributions in making it easier to navigate the Internet."
Lest this seem like mere public relations posturing, each undoubtedly snazzy certificate comes with a Power Mac 7100 attached. And, according to John Norstad, it’s a loaded 7100 as well, with 16 MB RAM, 500 MB hard drive, Apple Adjustable Keyboard, and 14-inch color monitor, not to mention System 7.5 and SoftWindows.
Without further ado, congratulations are in order for:
- The Internet Society, Reston, Virginia, for its efforts to foster a global environment conducive to the easy exchange of information and the rapid development of standards and new software.
- Steve Dorner of QUALCOMM Incorporated, San Diego, California, for Eudora, an electronic mail client for Internet users.
- Chuck Shotton, Houston, Texas, for MacHTTP, a World Wide Web server for the Macintosh.
- Peter Lewis, Perth, Western Australia, for FTPd – an anonymous file transfer server, and Anarchie – an FTP client to search for and retrieve public files on the Internet.
- University of Michigan – Weather Underground, University of Michigan, for Blue-Skies, a Gopher client for browsing, viewing and reporting real time weather and environmental information in an interactive graphic and text format. Key contributors include students Alan Steremberg, Derek Price, Chris Schwerzler, and Michael Kamprath. The Weather Underground is directed by Prof. Perry Samson with technical direction from Jeff Ferguson.
- John Hardin of EINet, Austin, Texas, for MacWeb, a hypermedia World-Wide Web client for the Macintosh. [And let’s not forget MacWAIS]
- National Center for Supercomputer Applications in Urbana, Illinois, for Mosaic for the Macintosh, the crossover application that has helped to spur interest in the Internet for many commercial and non-commercial users.
- Aaron Giles of Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York, for JPEGView, a graphic utility that allows the user to view compressed images on the World-Wide Web, Gopher or those retrieved from anonymous FTP servers on the net.
- John Norstad of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, for NewsWatcher, a Usenet news reader.
- Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, for CU-SeeMe, a conferencing tool that is being used by elementary schools, individuals, and other organizations around the world for low-cost video communications.
- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the TurboGopher client and GopherSurfer server. Internet Gopher is a distributed system for campus and world information which includes local information as well as links to other Gopher servers.
Anarchie author Peter Lewis said in comp.sys.mac.comm, "I’d like to thank Apple for the Cool Tools award, and I hope they get a tonne of good press from it. It’s great to see Apple realizing the importance of the Internet, and hopefully some of the cool MacTCP apps will make the Mac the platform of choice for connecting to the Internet, something that will quite possibly become a major factor in buying a computer – and I think we’d all like to see more Macs in the world, right? I also hope Apple will make eWorld a full Internet gateway so that their customers can use all the neat programs. And I’m really looking forward to getting my 7100. :-)"
I’d like to echo Peter’s sentiments. It’s fairly obvious that the future lies in connections between people facilitated by connections between computers. Apple has always recognized this (hence the inclusion of LocalTalk in every Mac and the ease of setting up Ethernet networks), but it’s pleasing to see the company recognize the importance of the Internet in terms of communications and computers. From what I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a fair amount), the Mac is the best Internet client machine today, thanks in large part to the MacTCP programmers at Apple and to the people and organizations listed above.
Although any finite list must exclude someone, I and many others were surprised not to see Dartmouth College, home of Fetch and InterNews, included. Although Fetch is a bit elderly, it’s still one of the standard Internet programs everyone should have, and many people prefer InterNews’s interface over others. And, since Apple gave awards to both Mosaic and MacWeb, it’s not as though they needed to limit the awards to a single FTP client or Usenet newsreader. I can’t give Dartmouth a Power Mac 7100, but I would like to extend the same congratulations to the fine programmers there for their contributions to the Macintosh Internet community.
Finally, as much as my cynical side wants to say that this is a freak occurrence, I sincerely hope that the attention and positive press these awards provide for Apple encourages the company to periodically continue in the same vein. Apple’s most powerful allies are its loyal users and developers, and it can only help Apple to give them a quantifiable nod every now and then.