August 12, 1981: Apple Computer is History

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mediatechnology
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August 12, 1981: Apple Computer is History

Post by mediatechnology » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:10 pm

I remember a time back in 1981 when I worked for Scott Instruments in Denton, Texas.
We had a few speech recognition products that worked with the Apple II family and were doing crude DSP on a VAX machine.

Suddenly the IBM PC was introduced. It had far more built-in capability than the Apple II.

I remember one of my co-workers saying - I'm paraphrasing - "Apple is a doomed company. The PC is a game-changer. Apple will never be able to compete. It's over for them."
At the time I remember saying: "I don't think its quite that simple."
I was treated like a total idiot.

Fast-forward 30 years...
Apple has $100,000,000,000 - thats 100 BILLION dollars - in cash reserves.
IBM no longer makes PCs.

Duh. Am I a visionary or a Luddite?
Or, in retrospect, maybe I'm just lucky going with gut feel.

It's funny though: Had I not recently heard about Apple's huge cash reserve I might not have remembered what was said back in '81.
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Re: August 12, 1981: Apple Computer is History

Post by JR. » Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:59 am

Actually the PC did pretty much spank apple's computers. (note: I'm posting this from a mac mini).

IBM sold their PC business to Lenovo (Chinese) and they are both still alive and well.

Apple didn't make their bones on PCs, they actually use their successful music merchandising and later phone business, to drive people to buy their computers too. I bought a small mac because it is less popular than PCs so not as attractive to hack with viruses, at least for now.

You should have bought some stock in the old apple, IIRC it was $15 or less back in the '80s, especially after they let Steve Jobs go.

Jobs was an exceptional merchandiser... They eventually settled with Creative (the actual inventor of digital music players) who sued them for patent infringement, while Apple took their idea, and knocked it out of the park. It seems entirely possible that apple can replicate their merchandising magic on the home TV.

Apples balance sheet is remarkable and they may use some of it to pay off government fines over price fixing charges related to digital books. Tim Cook is a great operations guy but no Steve Jobs (for better and worse).

It is hard to imagine a Jobs-less Apple continuing to grow like this forever. Also their product costs will increase due to pay raises awarded to workers by Hon Hai over the last two years, their huge contract manufacturer in China.

If you predicted apple would win a simple computer competition platform vs platform, I believe you were wrong, while brand to brand they have outlasted IBM making small computers, IBM never was long term serious about the PC hardware business. I recall being critical of IBM back in the day for not using the PC as an entry path to grow small business customers into bigger IBM systems.

I wish I held some apple stock since then. I don't think I ever bought any. I was always a PC guy. Intel and Microsoft stock were pretty good to me back in the day. Now if we could use time travel, I'd sell my Microsoft position when it peaked up around 12x and buy apple stock that IIRC was still relatively cheap back then. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

=====
A friend of mine started a small software company back in the late 70's early '80s and IIRC from conversations with him back then, he found apple very uncooperative and difficult to work with compared to IBM... He sold his software company to some other now extinct larger but declining software company for several million dollars back then, and put those millions into the market back then... He has done very very well....

JR
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Re: August 12, 1981: Apple Computer is History

Post by mediatechnology » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:37 pm

When you look back to Job's visionary essay "When we invented the personal computer," it's pretty clear he saw the big picture.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=460

"The second point is that, unlike the camera or the stereo which are dedicated to just one function, the Apple is truly a general purpose tool. One minute the Apple can help educate elementary school students on math drills – the next minute, that same Apple does financial modeling – the next minute, it encourages artistic creativity via color or graphics."
If you predicted apple would win a simple computer competition platform vs platform, I believe you were wrong.
That was my co-worker's prediction - that IBM would win based on a single platform. I didn't think it was going to be that one dimensional.
Apple didn't make their bones on PCs, they actually use their successful music merchandising
And IBM toyed with that too with the Madison Project in 1999...just before iTunes. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=438

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Re: August 12, 1981: Apple Computer is History

Post by JR. » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:43 am

The power of programable computing platforms has been apparent for a very very long time.

The chicken and egg dichotomy about that business was often the software. Early PC sales were often driven by ability to run some popular software like spread sheet or word processing. I recall the old apple II getting a bump from sales to small business when packaged with some semi-custom software.

I ended up buying a heathkit version of DECs LSI-11/2 in the '70s, and taught myself to program in basic since the software to do what I wanted to do was not available off the shelf.

I later shifted to PC because of price/performance but never bought an IBM proper, always clones.

While it is better today, I still find myself pretty much married to IBM PC compatible platform to run available engineering software.

JR
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Re: August 12, 1981: Apple Computer is History

Post by mediatechnology » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:49 am

At the KA Computer Store, which my brother started, VisiCalc in particular drove early Apple II sales.

When I got around to buying an Apple IIe, I used AppleWorks, later ClarisWorks, which was an integrated Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Database.
It was cheap, fast (for the time) and had a lot of functionality for something than ran on 100K? floppies.

IIRC one of the tricks Woz used that made the Apple II fairly low cost was the early use of dynamic RAM and combining video refresh with DRAM refresh. That saved a lot of circuitry.

I still have the 1978 Apple II Reference Manual and the Sams PhotoFacts. Both have the schematics.

One of my favorite programs was "FireOrgan" which looked like WinAmp visualization. The refresh/drawing rate was extremely fast for such a slow CPU.

http://www.metabarn.com/fireorgan/index.html

There's a slow FireOrgan simulator here: http://www.moonmilk.com/09/12/fireorgan/
https://ka-electronics.com

Meme World https://www.memeworld.com/
Project Veritas: Google "Machine Learning Fairness" Whistleblower Goes Public, says: "burden lifted off of my soul." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1VeElB ... e=youtu.be
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