Q From e-mail:
You changed the world with your revoutionary ideas about technology...what
do you see as the next major techno-revolution?
In Apple I could predict a year ahead because I could see it in the
labs there. But whenever I predicted 2 years out, I was way off. Too many
unexpected advances or new approaches showed up. Even what made sense
to do changed many times. What's worth doing today, could change tomorrow.
All the efforts that solve today's problem might be futile if people don't
need those solutions next year, either because the problem is gone or
because there's another type of solution. Today's Iridium phones might
be an example of this.
Q From e-mail:
being a computer pioneer, are you responsable in some way, great or small,
for the Y2K problem?
I hope not. I'm very precise about many things and only want them
done the correct way when there is a correct way. Many engineers notice
such mistakes all the time, like the State of California using 2 rear
license plates instead of one rear plate (with month and year sticker
icons) and one front plate. But engineers can't easily nail down everything
in the future. Our Macintosh was never designed to address more than about
56 MB of RAM until we fixed it. In computers, a year is a long time, 2
years is almost too hard to predict what will happen, and 10 years is
infinity. I hope that I'm better than others most of the time.
Also, all the
software that has problems has managers that are more responsible than
the engineers for quality and features. They are normal, non-technical
people. Yet they let the 2K problems get by also. I guess there aren't
very many people that take care of such matters well. But even if we extend
all dates in all software to 4 digits for the year, we'll get nailed in
the year 10000. And we aren't necessarily wrong. It's just amazing that
so much software didn't get corrected for Y2K much longer ago.
Q From e-mail:
First I want to say thank you, not just for your contributions as an engineer
but for serving as a valuable role model as well. My personal experiences
with computers evolved from the C64's to Apple IIe's, Windows then UNIX
(several varieties) and now I feel as though I found the perfect OS with
Linux. With all the discussion of Mac vs. Windows it seems like other
good options don't get the recognition they deserve. I would like to know
your opinions on these alternative OSes (Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, etc...)
as well as the open source movement. Have you ever played around with
any of the other systems and if so do you think it possible that you might
switch to something other than a Mac?
It's only been Apple ][ and Mac for me. I used a little UNIX in the
far past, and have to touch on it for some of the network equipment that
Over the years
I met so many people doing things with Atari computers, particularly the
Amiga, that were not easily doable with Macs or any other PC, that I was
very impressed. Many of the best people ('best' meaning those that want
things other than normal and that can't stop moving and all) are into
Linux so I admire it. But with all my time consumed with a large family
and many computers to maintain and a network too, and mail and magazines
and updates and all, I won't have time for things like Linux for quite
a while. I actually look forward to my children being gone.
Q From e-mail:
I have here in my office, running, the very Apple ][ mentioned above!
It is rather unusual, and I've never seen another like it, or been able
to find out more about it. It's all black, and the label reads, "Made
exclusively for Bell & Howell by Apple Computer Inc." Tags on the back
bear the following: Model No. A2S1016B Serial No. A2S3-005203 Apple Computer
Inc., Cupertino, California It contains a memory expansion card, an async
serial card, a Disk ][ Interface and a card bearing the Microsoft logo.
I was wondering about the relationship between Bell & Howell and Apple.
I've never seen any mention of it, and never seen another machine like
this one. I thought Bell and Howell made that old 8mm movie projector
my dad would never let us touch! :) What were they doing in the computer
biz? If you are too busy to answer individual messages, then just let
my thank-you stand. Your machine, your ideas, have touched the lives of
more people than I believe it is impossible to imagine. That's just simply
In very early Apple ][ days, Bell & Howell saw it as a good supplement
to their school product line that included projectors and such tools.
As you say, theirs were made in a black case, but were otherwise identical
to the other Apple ]['s. It was a pretty impressive machine. Many may
never have seen one. But, Bell & Howell already had respect in the school
sales arena. The had salespeople that would be trusted by buyers. So this
product was easier for them to sell into many schools. They just had to
size up the market and earn money for selling. Thank you, too,
Q From e-mail:
Thanks for creating the Apple Computer. I spent most of the late 1970's
waiting in line to use machines like the Wang 2200, IBM 5100, and Univac
90/60. The Apple ][ made a real difference -- the lines got shorter and
the programs got better! Now I had time to kill, so I got a chance to
really explore the hardware and software you designed. That Apple ][ was
a neat machine with all kinds of "goodies" hidden inside. Students didn't
get much documentation beyond a simple "How to..." and a guide to Integer
BASIC. Finding your Monitor, Mini-Assembler, and "Sweet 16" hidden inside
the ROM's was a real discovery -- More fun than "Adventure" or "Star Trek."
Later on I realized that the REAL value of the Apple ][ was the potential
for discovery within the machine itself. As I learned more about computer
hardware and software, I started to understand some of the real "Hacks"
inside that box: how to generate the video signal; how the video access
refreshed the DRAMs; how the disk drives worked; even "mundane" parts
like the power supply and peripheral slots revealed genious after careful
The Apple ][
was somewhere between a parable and a joke -- when you finally understood
it, you smiled in the knowledge you knew something special. The Apple
][ was the only machine that made me smile.
I'm baffled by the amount of email saying the same things you say.
Also, in my travels I continually run into individuals that learned so
much about the guts of the hardware and software. I had learned about
hardware and software very much the same way, finding manuals and schematics
and listings for minicomputers and studying them and dissecting them and
eventually looking for better ways. So I very much wanted the Apple ][
to include enough documentation for people to learn this way, as had I.
It was very lucky that we were so small at first that we did this. It
was an 'open' approach. Now, you could never imagine even Apple being
this open about what's inside the box.
A lot of other
things changed in this way too. When I developed the Apple computers,
TV's came with schematics. Many radios did too. Now, everything is inside
a chip. There was only a short period in history that such openness could
have overlapped hugely successful computers, the same short window where
only a few people could develop such products. It was 1975-1977. Then
the window closed.
Q From e-mail:
s is true that you were a big fan of the Newton eMate?
opinion regarding the discontinuation of the Newton platform?
The eMate solved a lot of problems that I had for years teaching 5th
graders with PowerBooks. It survived rough treatment and drops, the way
a laptop shoud. It didn't have constant hardware and sofware failures.
It was easy to do many of the things students have to do in class. It
was even easier than any computer to transfer files between students and
teachers, with "Send" and "Receive" buttons that worked. Sort of like
the simple syncronization of the Palm Pilot that made it so accepted.
the prior customers as part of our loyal family, we should have been more
loyal to them. Apple should not have discontinued the slightly profitable
line until someone was found to license the technology to, even if for
free. That way, some other company or companies could support it and provide
replacements for the future, even if the Newton and it's great technologies
weren't right for Apple to continue with.