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Our 300th issue begins with news of Performa price drops, changes in how to contact Intuit, and where to find out more about the Gartner survey detailing how Macs are cheaper to support than Windows machines. The bulk of the issue, though, is a celebration of our 300th issue – 300 reasons about why the Mac is a great machine to use and to write about.

Geoff Duncan No comments

A New Performa & New Performa Pricing

A New Performa & New Performa Pricing — In anticipation of the holiday buying season, Apple last week announced Performa price reductions of up to $500. The biggest drop hit the Performa 6220CD, which now starts at about $2,000 for 16 MB of RAM, a quad-speed CD-ROM, a 1 GB hard disk, plus a modem, TV tuner, and software bundle. Apple also announced the Performa 6300CD, featuring a 100 MHz PowerPC 603e processor with 256K Level 2 cache, a 28.8 internal modem, a 15-inch monitor with built-in speakers, 16 MB of RAM and a 1.2 GB hard disk. The Performa 6300CD will debut at the high end of the Performa line, starting around $2,800. [GD]

Geoff Duncan No comments

Intuit Phone and Email Correction

Intuit Phone and Email Correction — While Steven Becker wrote the article on Quicken 6.0 in TidBITS-299, I called Intuit to ask what phone numbers and email address they’d prefer to have included. After passing me to four different people, Intuit finally gave me what turned out to be incorrect information: apparently the email address was dedicated to MacInTax (another Intuit product) and the phone numbers were sometimes answered by Intuit, then other times by a dock worker somewhere in California. So, here’s Intuit’s latest version of their preferred contact information for questions or information on Quicken. Keep your fingers crossed. [GD]

Intuit — 800/624-8742 — 415/322-0573 — <[email protected]>

Geoff Duncan No comments

Gartner Report Followup

Gartner Report Followup — Many TidBITS readers wrote to ask where they can get their hands on the report from Gartner Group Consulting Services that found Macs cheaper to support than Windows machines (see TidBITS-299). Apple apparently may not be able to make the report available online (the rights are owned by the Gartner Group), but Apple has set up an automatic voice mail system at 800/232-9335 to take requests for physical copies of the report. Apple is working on ways to get the report to folks in countries besides the U.S. and Canada – stay tuned. [GD]

Geoff Duncan No comments

A Cure For Netscape Freezes?

A Cure For Netscape Freezes? Frustrated that Netscape Navigator kept freezing on his Quadra 605, Scott Sykes <[email protected]> rolled up his sleeves and tried to figure out what the problem might be. The result is Netscape Defrost, a simple system extension that patches a Mac Toolbox call designed to return information about the machine’s physical location on the globe. (You can access and set this information through the Map control panel.) Essentially, Netscape Defrost checks this data once, then passes that cached information back to any application that might be looking for it. Though I can’t personally vouch for it, Scott certainly has a number of satisfied customers. Netscape Defrost is donation-ware and is designed to work with all versions of Netscape. [GD]

TidBITS Editors and Friends No comments

300 Reasons the Mac is Great

We wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary as a celebration for our 300th issue. Eventually, we decided the best way to celebrate TidBITS would be to celebrate the machine that has given us our inspiration for the last five and a half years – the Macintosh.

With the help of some friends, we came up with 300 reasons why the Mac has made it to where it is today. Apple may have its problems, but the company still managed to ship 1.02 million Macs in the second quarter of 1995.

We don’t pretend that the 300 entries below are complete, and we’re sure there are some egregious omissions. We’re only human, and we don’t intend the list to be exhaustive or exhausting to research. As such, please don’t send us your personal list of reasons why the Mac is great, your line-by-line analysis of our list, things you think we left out, or things you’re offended we included. This is a one-shot deal, and we already get plenty of mail.

We wish to thank our friends who helped create this list, including:

  • John Baxter
  • Glenn Fleishman
  • Ric Ford
  • Cary Lu
  • Chad Magendanz
  • Kee Nethery and Kirsten
  • Matt Neuburg
  • Erik Speckman

Can’t Get Enough? Before we get on to the 300 reasons, we wanted to pass on a related note. If you just love reading this sort of Macintosh propaganda, you’ll love Apple Fellow Guy Kawasaki’s <[email protected]> new mailing list. It’s one-way only, so you don’t have to worry about long, drawn-out flame wars. Instead, you get to read great things Guy sends out about Apple. Guy, acting as self-proclaimed “List Pope,” writes:

Attention: raging, inexorable Macintosh evangelists! Want to help people buy the right platform and defeat the hegemony that seeks to dominate us all? I’ve created a mailing list for evangelists of the Macintosh Way.

If you join this list, you’ll get sporadic, but interesting, postings such as press releases, announcements, and special offers to help the Macintosh cause. This is a one-to-many list, so your mailbox won’t be cluttered with chozzerai. To join, send an email message to <[email protected]>. The server will respond with information about subscribing.

Great Software


  • About This Macintosh tells you your system version, how much memory is available and how much memory is being used, and it’s built right into the Finder.
  • “Aliases that work, as opposed to Shortcuts that don’t.” -Cary
  • Apple Guide. Interactive, contextual help built into the system is a great thing.
  • “You can talk people through the Macintosh on the phone, including your parents – I did this the other night with my dad.” -Glenn
  • An organized, hierarchical system folder, rather than a flat mess of cryptically-named files.
  • Apple File Exchange
  • A/UX. Even if it never made native mode on the Power Macs, A/UX has strong supporters and gave Apple a much-needed additional operating system for some markets.
  • “Because when you copy a file onto your hard drive, you don’t have to create an icon, and then type in the full path name of your file, and then type the full path name of it’s application, in order to be able to click on it and make it run.” -Kirsten
  • The Palette Manager provided the first consistent (or semi-consistent) color model.
  • Cut, Copy and Paste/the Clipboard. Let’s not forget the simple stuff – the Mac was the first personal computer to make the power of Cut, Copy, and Paste immediately accessible. Further, data that was cut or copied could be moved between applications, even in the old days.
  • Customizable icons. Just paste into the Get Info dialog box.
  • Drag and drop system extensions. To add functionality to your Mac, you just drag the components to your System Folder, drop them there, and let the machine sort it out. There’s no messing with configuration or initialization files, interrupts or memory locations, and no comparable mechanism exists for other computing platforms.
  • Disk First Aid. Apple has shipped basic, friendly disk diagnostic software with every Mac since System 6.
  • First computer on which you virtual desktop could be as messy as your real desktop.
  • Few viruses. Though Macintosh viruses exist, they don’t compare to the sheer volume and malevolence of viruses in the DOS/Windows world.
  • Graphing Calculator. What a cool demo.
  • HyperCard. HyperCard might not have brought programming to the masses the way Bill Atkinson intended, but HyperCard virtually defined “authoring software” and still serves as a crucial tool for educators, programmers, and others (including us).
  • Key Caps. You don’t have to type weird codes to get upper-ASCII special characters.
  • Long file names on CD-ROMs (Windows CD-ROMs use the ISO 9660 format which is limited to eight character file names, even with Windows 95.)
  • Long file names since 1984.
  • Macintosh Drag & Drop
  • MacPaint. A classic program that successfully captured the essence of the Mac’s superiority.
  • Macs are secure Internet servers.
  • MacsBug
  • MiniFinder
  • MPW. The Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop might not be as popular now in the wake of THINK C and CodeWarrior, but the value of a sophisticated and powerful development environments from Apple can’t be overlooked. In addition, the MPW Shell is still an incredibly useful bit of software.
  • MultiFinder. Although MultiFinder leaves a number of annoying technical legacies in the Mac system, perhaps no other piece of system software better demonstrated the advantages of being a Mac power user before System 7 came out.
  • Multiple monitors with a contiguous, extended desktop (or mirroring on PowerBooks). Nothing beats a multiple monitor setup.
  • Multiple, selectable boot drives. They make testing, troubleshooting, and recovery far easier.
  • Non-segmented memory. “You never need to understand or cope with the ‘lower 640K’ or irritating differences between extended and expanded memory.” -Tonya
  • One (and only one) menubar.
  • Open Scripting Architecture. Mix-and-match system-level support for inter-application scripting, including third-party products.
  • Personal File Sharing. We might take it for granted now, but the idea that any machine on a network could be a file server was virtually unheard of until System 7 debuted. Personal File Sharing is now so integral to the way many people use their Macs that they don’t know what AppleShare is.
  • QuickDraw. Xerox hadn’t figured out overlapping graphic regions, but they faked it well enough that Apple thought they had and reverse-engineered something that didn’t exist.
  • QuickDraw 3D
  • QuickDraw GX
  • QuickTime. No one thought about digital video until QuickTime appeared – now people can’t get enough of it.
  • QuickTime VR. The demos contain all the convincing anyone needs.
  • Real-time, system-wide speech recognition.
  • Resource forks. “When you come to a fork in the road, open it with ResEdit.” -Adam
  • Scientific applications like LabView started on the Mac, and the Mac has always been a popular machine for research and visualization applications. (NIH Image is a great example.)
  • Standardized handling and management of fonts. Fonts live in the Fonts folder. Imagine that.
  • Support for monochrome systems. The original Macs were black and white, and modern system software still provides excellent support for monochrome systems and monitors. A color display is not required, ideal for people who prefer monochrome.
  • The active System Folder has a special icon that appears automatically. If you have multiple systems installed on other platforms, determining which one is running is never as straightforward.
  • The first machine that could have a Font menu so long it would drop through your floor.
  • The CD+G format (CD audio plus graphics) only works on the Mac.
  • TrueType. It forced Adobe to release the PostScript font format and provided built-in, scalable font choices for normal users.
  • User-configurable Apple Menu.
  • WorldScript. We may speak and write English here at TidBITS, but a vast number of people in the world don’t.
  • You can run a Mac from RAM disk.
  • You don’t have to know what a pathname is.
  • The Zoom box, especially in the Finder.

Great Hardware


  • The original ImageWriter.
  • “Impromptu LocalTalk networks at 30,000 feet.” -Adam
  • “Because you can run a LocalTalk network (230.4 Kbps) from building to building using the connecting hot and cold water pipes as the two wire network connection.” -Kee
  • A IIci, introduced in September 1989 and shipping until February 1993, is still an adequate machine.
  • A single port for all keyboards and pointing devices.
  • AAUI: a lower cost of entry to get into different flavors of Ethernet.
  • “All Macs have those great little icons over the ports.” -Tonya
  • Almost no IRQ conflicts. [We say “almost” because our friend Cary Lu has run into an utterly obscure one. But given time, Cary will encounter anything – we have a pool going for when he finds Elvis. Easy money. -Geoff]
  • Apple’s R&D budget, which gives us cool new toys.
  • Automatic inject and eject floppy drives.
  • AV capabilities. “You can just plug in your video camera!” -Tonya
  • Booting from CD-ROM.
  • Built-in Ethernet.
  • Built-in sound, with no need to install, configure, or troubleshoot a “SoundWhacker” card.
  • DOS Cards. If you can’t beat ’em, beat ’em at their own game.
  • Great Machine: PowerBook 100: It’s cheap, light, surprisingly spritely, and has the best RAM disk capabilities of any PowerBook.
  • Great Machine: SE/30: In many cases, the SE/30 is still the cheapest server workhorse of choice. No, we’re not parting with ours come hell or high water.
  • Great Machine: The LC III: “A reasonably powerful, full-featured Mac you can hide in a pizza box.” -Geoff
  • Have we mentioned multiple monitors?
  • MacRecorder
  • Memory expansion doesn’t require any software configuration.
  • Multiple hard drives with no extra hardware.
  • The original LaserWriter. Even at $7,000, this machine gave birth to desktop publishing as much as anything else.
  • PhoneNet. Simple, inexpensive networks exist most places there are multiple Macs.
  • Plug-and-play external floppy drives.
  • Plug-and-play hard disk installation – plug it in and turn it on.
  • Plug-and-play networking with a simple serial cable.
  • Power key on the keyboard where you can reach it really easily.
  • PowerBook Duo: “Perfect for petite people with small hands who don’t have strong shoulders.” -Tonya
  • PowerBook SCSI Mode – all PowerBooks should do this!
  • PowerBooks. The first laptops to feature palm rests and an integrated trackball; in many senses the laptop industry still hasn’t caught up.
  • Relatively standardized batteries for PowerBooks. “In the PC world on manufacturer can ship laptops using dozens of different battery types.” -Cary
  • Removing floppy disks with a straightened paper clip. (Did you ever wonder what the small hole on the right side of floppy drives was for?)
  • RISC. Gotta love that speed.
  • Small, convenient connectors for printers and modems.
  • Switching monitor resolutions on the fly, without quitting or restarting.
  • The Chimes of Death. Even the most naive Mac user knows something is wrong when their cheery startup sound changes to something less reassuring.
  • The fact that even the elderly Mac Plus can run much of today’s software. [This was somewhat debated, but Macs do tend to have long, useful lives – much longer than many other platforms. -Tonya]
  • The simplicity and elegance of a one-button mouse. “It’s hard to hit the wrong button.” -Adam
  • Trackpad. The center-mounted trackball was a great advance in the first PowerBooks, and Apple managed to go one better with the trackpad.
  • Transition to PowerPC. No other computing platform has attempted such a dramatic shift in its hardware architecture, let alone accomplished it so smoothly.
  • VideoSpigot
  • Virtually every connector on a Macintosh is unique, so it’s hard to plug something into the wrong port.
  • Virtually every machine now has built-in video, audio, and networking.
  • You can plug your mouse right into the keyboard.
  • PowerBooks (and now some Power Macs) can be put to sleep rather than being completely shut down.

Great Tradition


  • “Andy Warhol did a version of the logo!” -Glenn
  • “The corporate name is shared with the Beatles.” -John
  • Andy Ihnatko and his MacAquarium.
  • Apple’s surprisingly good Internet presence.
  • The Apple Tech Info Library, now searchable and online.

  • “Because you could get feet that would raise up your Mac Plus so that your computer looked like a small robot.” -Kee
  • Clarus the Dogcow. Just say moof.
  • Cool six-color logo.
  • Cool codenames for machines.
  • Desktop publishing. With PageMaker, other early programs, and the LaserWriter, the Mac gave birth to a multi-billion dollar industry.
  • Early Macintosh SEs had the signatures of the engineering team inside the case.
  • Educational discounts. “When you were in college you could get your Mac for half off – now everyone can get them for that price, so you should fill you business with them!” -Erik
  • First completely standardized bitmap display.
  • First human interface guide. Apple was the first to take human interface seriously enough to teach its developers how to make easy-to-use applications.
  • “…and Apple had the first human interface police.” -Adam
  • Flying Toasters. Frivolous or not, they became big business.
  • I’m sure we must have mentioned multiple monitors, but if not…
  • Image editing – Photoshop appeared first on the Mac and virtually gave birth to the digital image industry.
  • Info-Mac and University of Michigan archive sites for Macintosh files on the Internet
  • Inside Macintosh
  • MacHack. 96 hours of no sleep and lots of cool code.
  • Multimedia. What we call “multimedia” today was largely born on the Macintosh, and the Mac remains the dominant development and authoring platform.
  • Outstanding Shareware Community. No other computing platform can boast a shareware community of such high quality and consistency.
  • Some Macintosh models have excellent Easter Eggs. The SE/30 has an Engineer Hall of Fame burned in its ROMs; the Mac SE, IIci, and IIfx have pictures of the development team buried inside. Want more? easter-eggs-135.hqx

  • Super high-end color scanners work only with Macs.
  • The “Lemmings” commercial.
  • The Chicago font. Perhaps nothing so illustrates the permeation of the Macintosh as the ubiquitous presence of Chicago on signs, billboards, televisions, movies, album covers, and books. It’s everywhere – a subliminal Sign of Macintosh.
  • The classic “1984” commercial.
  • The Clinton White House runs on PowerBooks.
  • The Mac pioneered use of 3.5-inch disks.
  • The Mac Classic could boot from ROM. Neat.
  • “The power to crush the other kids.”
  • The San Francisco font. In the early days, this crazy bitmapped font best demonstrated the power of the Macintosh for many people. “Sure, you can print a note on your computer, but can you print a ransom note?”
  • The system software was free for many years.
  • The World Wide Developers Conferences (WWDC)
  • Two words: Icon Garden. (If you get the QuickTime VR Player, you can even check out a QTVR movie of it.)

  • Xerox PARC
  • “You can safely give a Mac to your grandmother, and I have.” -Adam
  • You could put the system, a word processor, a graphics program, and your files on one 400K floppy disk. That was a while ago, but still…

Great Companies


  • Adobe Systems. Thanks for PostScript.
  • Aladdin. Shareware can work.
  • Aldus. PageMaker ruled the DTP world for a long time.
  • America Online. Originally AppleLink Personal Edition, and heavily Mac-oriented for years.
  • APS Technologies.
  • Asante Technologies
  • Casady & Greene
  • Connectix
  • Dantz Development. It’s 1:00 AM. Have you backed up your hard disk today?
  • Delta Tao Software. Small, quirky, and with a serious attitude.
  • Farallon
  • MacConnection. They defined excellence in mail order and originated cheap overnight shipping plus use of environmentally sensitive packing.
  • Maxis
  • Metrowerks. They came out of the woodwork to save Apple for developers.
  • Now Software
  • Peachpit Press
  • Radius
  • StarNine. For years a minor email gateway developer, StarNine exploded on the scene with WebSTAR and ListSTAR.
  • Voyager Company

Great People


  • Alan Kay
  • AMUG
  • Andrew Welch and Ambrosia Software.
  • Andy Hertzfeld
  • BCS*Mac
  • Bill Atkinson
  • Bill Gates, despite the best efforts of some of his employees.
  • Bill Goodman
  • BMUG
  • Bruce Horn
  • Bruce Tognazzini
  • Burrell Smith
  • Charlie Jackson
  • Chuck Shotton, for MacHTTP and its successor, WebSTAR. Macs can too be great Internet servers.
  • Chuq Von Rospach, who coordinated the split of the original <comp.sys.mac> newsgroup and started the Apple Internet family of mailing lists.
  • Dartmouth College’s development team
  • Dave Winer
  • Don Norman
  • Frederic Rinaldi, for XCMDs and XFCNs galore.
  • Garry Hornbuckle, who brought MacTCP out of the forest of bugs and is helping Apple move past it to Open Transport.
  • Guy Kawasaki
  • Jef Raskin, an often-forgotten reason for the original Macintosh’s existence.
  • John Norstad
  • John Warnock
  • Kai Krause
  • Kevin Calhoun
  • Leonard Rosenthol
  • Mike Markkula
  • Paul Brainerd
  • Peter Hoddie
  • Peter Lewis. More proof that shareware works.
  • Quinn. It’s his last name, actually.
  • Randy Wigginton
  • Ray Lau
  • Robin Williams (The author, not the comedian.)
  • Steve Capps
  • Steve Dorner
  • Steve Jobs. Love him or hate him (or both), he’s the main reason the Mac is what it is today.
  • Susan Kare

Great Learning Experiences


  • Apple’s hardware sales forecasting.
  • Apple’s 12″ Color Monitor. Designed to be a smaller, less-expensive alternative to the classic Apple 13″ color monitor, these 512 by 384-pixel monitors from Toshiba were… cheap.
  • Apple’s 8*24GC video card. That huge processor chip at the end sure looks impressive, huh?
  • Apple Express Modem
  • Apple FaxModem
  • AppleLink pricing. At $39 an hour, AppleLink could be considered blackmail rather than a service.
  • The Chooser. Opening this is like having a flashback to 1988.
  • Comments in Get Info. What’s the point of providing a field where comments about a file can be entered if they’re lost when the desktop is rebuilt?
  • PowerBook Duo keyboards – the series started at A, is now up to F, and they just can’t seem to get it right.
  • Ejecting disks by dragging them to the Trash. It’s not the only way to get a disk off the desktop, but it’s the one that makes the least sense.
  • Font/DA Mover
  • Macintosh IIvx. If buyers of this replacement for the IIci weren’t burned by its price or its rapid succession by the Centris 650, they were burned by the 16-bit system bus which hobbled the machine’s potential performance.
  • ImageWriter LQ
  • Jasmine & Ehman
  • Mac Portable, er, Luggable. These machines featured an active-matrix LCD screen and a trackball, but you could put a nuclear device into a smaller box that weighed less. Sony’s repackaging of this machine as the PowerBook 100 only served to highlight the Portable’s significant shortcomings.
  • Macintosh software from Lotus, especially Jazz.
  • Normal use of Balloon Help. Well-implemented and well-written balloon help can be a great thing (like Eudora’s or Nisus Writer’s), but typical balloon help – if it’s there at all – merely serves to annoy as it slowly tells you what you already knew.
  • Apple’s Performa naming scheme. Do you know the difference between a Performa 475 and 476, or the Performa 575, 577, and 578?
  • Open Transport 1.0. Hardware drives software, and Apple’s engineers couldn’t avoid shipping 1.0 when the Power Mac 9500 came out.
  • PowerTalk. Integrating multi-service email, address books, and digital signatures into the desktop would be a good idea… if it had a comprehensible interface and actually worked.
  • A power button right below the floppy drive on the Centris/Quadra 610/Power Mac 6100-based models, which many users accidently press to eject a floppy disk.
  • QuickDraw GX. An amazing technology that responds to many long-standing problems, but high system requirements and lack of developer support make few reasons to use that technology.
  • Steve Jobs
  • John Sculley
  • Numbering System Enablers, with no clue as to what models or machines they might be used for.
  • The need for products like Conflict Catcher.
  • The original 90-day Macintosh warranty.
  • The way error messages often ask if serious problems are OK.
  • The HindenBook, er, PowerBook 5300.

Great Products


  • First version of Now Utilities.
  • 4D
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • After Dark
  • Anarchie
  • AppleTalk Remote Access.
  • BBEdit
  • ClarisWorks.
  • Color publishing software. The Mac was the first computer to do professional color publishing, and remains the computer of choice.
  • Conflict Catcher
  • Continuum, which was a blazingly fast arcade game even on a Mac 512K.
  • Dark Castle
  • DaynaFile
  • DeBabelizer
  • Disinfectant
  • Eudora
  • FEdit. It was a great disk editor in the early days.
  • Fetch
  • FileMaker Pro
  • FirstClass, TeleFinder, and NovaLink Professional, which brought graphical interfaces to the crude command-line bulletin board world.
  • Frontier
  • FutureBASIC
  • The Grouch extension that would have Oscar the Grouch sing a song when you emptied the trash.
  • FreeHand
  • Illustrator
  • Internet Config
  • ListSTAR
  • MacDraw. The first object-oriented drawing program available on a personal computer.
  • MachTen
  • Macintosh BASIC. “The first program that was cancelled because they decided that everyone who would ever buy it had already pirated a copy.” -Cary
  • MacTCP
  • MacTools
  • Mathematica
  • Metrowerks’ CodeWarrior
  • MODE32. Though Apple eventually released a flaky system enabler to let older Macs address more than 13 MB of RAM, Connectix was there with the bullet-proof MODE32 as soon as 32-bit addressing became an issue.
  • MYST
  • NetBunny
  • NewsWatcher
  • Nisus Writer
  • Norton Utilities
  • Now Up-to-Date and Now Contact.
  • outSPOKEN from Berkeley Systems, which made the Mac more accessible to the visually-impaired.
  • PageMaker
  • Fractal Design Painter
  • PlainTalk
  • PostScript drove the Mac and the Mac drove it
  • Premiere
  • QuickCam
  • Quicken
  • QuicKeys
  • RAM Doubler. What a stunning hack.
  • Red Ryder
  • ResEdit
  • Retrospect
  • Screen savers that are bigger than applications.
  • SimCity. “My all-time favorite game.” -Tonya
  • SoundMaster. Macs were the first machine to scream when you shut them down.
  • Spaceward Ho!
  • Spectre
  • StuffIt
  • Super Boomerang. “It’s the utility I miss the most when using other people’s machines.” -Adam
  • Switcher. An early, effective attempt at MultiFinder.
  • SuperPaint. The first combination draw-and-paint application.
  • Timbuktu
  • The Little Mac Book
  • The Mac Bible
  • The Mac is Not a Typewriter
  • The Talking Moose and MacInTalk.
  • THINK C & Pascal and their LightSpeed predecessors
  • ThunderScan. It turned your ImageWriter into a scanner – what a funky idea!
  • TOPS. Early cross-platform peer-to-peer networking software.
  • VersaTerm
  • WebSTAR
  • WriteNow

Last But Not Least…

  • TidBITS readers (Maybe we’re biased on this one… hmm.)