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Pippin Pops Up

Apple is branching out from the Macintosh name to other apple words with the Pippin (which is, if you believe our mellifluous dictionary, "any of numerous roundish or oblate varieties of apple"). Depending on how you look at it (and what you read) Apple’s new Pippin is either a new platform, or a fancy quadruple-speed CD-ROM player that connects to a television. Either way, the Pippin uses an operating system based on the MacOS and takes advantage of a PowerPC 603 chip.

The initial point of a Pippin is to do a great job running CD-ROM discs, especially CDs that use the PowerPC architecture to go all out with sound, graphics, and so on. Pippin CDs will be a natural match for QuickTime VR, which Apple officially announced on 13-Jan-94 . (The earlier inclusion of QuickTime VR on the Star Trek Interactive Technical Manual CD-ROM [see TidBITS-250] came before the announcement.)

A Pippin won’t help you run a Fortune 500 company, but it may prove popular with the Nintendo or Sega crowd. Pippins apparently have gobs of ports, so you’ll be able to attach various devices (keyboard, joysticks, hard disks, and so on), although I haven’t seen any information giving the exact expected specifications.

Current CD-ROMs won’t work in a Pippin, but Apple’s press release claims that it will only take "slight modification" on the part of a developer to make current CDs work. At least part of that modification will be the inclusion of the Pippin operating system, since the entire Pippin OS will come on each commercial CD, not on a separate boot CD. None of the Pippin’s operating system will ship in the ROMs, as is customary for a Macintosh. A CD that works in a Pippin will also work in a Macintosh.

Apple has licensed Pippin to Bandai, a Japanese company, and the Pippin should first appear as Bandai’s Power Player, available for around $500.

The Pippin strikes me as an interesting direction for Apple, not because of its CD-ROM capabilities, but because I wonder when Apple will announce a Pippin that talks the TCP/IP protocols of the Internet. Then we could run into some interesting links between CD-ROM-based data and the more fluid information from the Internet, perhaps brought in over a cable modem running at Ethernet speeds.

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