Radius  There was once a day when computer displays were sexy – in a geeky way, of course. Mainly those monitors were made by Radius. We shouldn’t be surprised that this company’s products were cool, as it was set up by a breakaway bunch of brilliant engineers from Apple’s original Macintosh team, including Burrell Smith (Mac motherboard maven), Andy Hertzfeld (self-proclaimed “Software Wizard”), Mike Boich (the first Apple Evangelist), Matt Carter (digital type guru, and designer of Verdana), Alain Rossmann (the brains behind WAP), and others.

Its first product was a game changer – the Radius Full Page Display, which was the first large screen for a PC and pioneer of multiple-screen computing. Its next monitor was the Radius Pivot. Believe me, if you were using a Mac in the late 1980s you wanted a Radius Pivot. The full-page Pivot could be rotated 90° between landscape and portrait modes, with real-time remapping of icons, menu, and screen drawing. This stuff still
looks cool on an iPad. Twenty years ago it made grown DTPers and designers faint with envy. It was designed by Terry Oyama, who helped design the original Mac case.

Radius also developed the first processor and graphics accelerator cards for the Mac (including the must-have Radius Rocket), television tuners, video-capture cards, and high-end video adaptors.

As if that wasn’t enough, Radius was the first of the official Mac cloners in 1995, selling the Radius System 100 and 81/110. Clearly the person in charge of fancy names had since left the company.

 

Raptor Maybe the cool-names guy moved back to Apple because Raptor was the best named of Apple’s doomed attempts to create its own next-generation operating system. It was a bid to create an all-new microkernel that would run on any platform, and was part of Apple’s Red project, which promised the earth but merely fell over having delivered nothing of note. Staff left, budgets were cut. Raptor was wrapped.

Raskin Steve Jobs said that Apple “always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts”. And one of the pioneers of the Macintosh fulfilled that brief to a T-junction. From 1970 to 1974 Jeff Raskin taught art, photography and computer science at the University of California before joining Apple (Employee #31) as Manager of Publications in January 1978.

It was Raskin who lobbied hard for Apple to create a true consumer PC. He felt even the Apple II (early nickname: Simplicity) was too complex, and he was put in charge of the Macintosh project in 1979. It was Raskin who introduced Jobs to Xerox PARC’s graphical user interface concept. He decided on Apple’s one-button mouse rule. He’s rightly known as the Father of the Mac.

At first Jobs called the project “the dumbest idea” he’d ever heard. But after he was pushed off the Lisa project Jobs ingratiated himself into the Mac team, and roughly eased Raskin out. Then Steve said that the Mac “would make a dent in the universe”.

Raskin was livid and wrote a memo slagging off Jobs as a manager. Steve saw a copy of the memo and Jeff was as good as finished at the company. After a leave of absence he quit in 1982.

It’s safe to say that Raskin was never a big Steve Jobs fan: “Most people worked around him or sucked up to him, or were in awe of him. In fact, he was no genius; he resembled a planet shining by reflecting the light of others. Yet he thought of himself as the Sun King. He could not abide someone who was unimpressed by Steve Jobs”.

Like Steve Jobs, Jeff Raskin could be insufferably arrogant and ideologically narrow-minded, but he recognised talent when he saw it. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2005.

Reality Distortion Field Raskin’s description of Jobs is a neat explanation of what became known as Steve’s ‘Reality Distortion Field’ – a term coined in 1981 by Bud Tribble, who is still Apple’s Vice President of Software Technology. Appropriately for someone with such a surname, Tribble picked the phrase from an episode of Star Trek.

“In his presence, reality is malleable,” Tribble once explained to Hertzfeld. “He can convince anyone of practically anything.”

Hertzfeld agreed: “The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, an indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand. If one line of argument failed to persuade, he would deftly switch to another. Sometimes, he would throw you off balance by suddenly adopting your position as his own, without acknowledging that he ever thought differently.”

Rhapsody After the failure of its home-baked Copland next-generation OS project, Apple bought OpenStep from Steve Jobs’ NeXT. The idea was to port it to PowerPC so that it would run on Apple’s existing Macs, bolt on technologies such as QuickTime, and refine the user interface to make it more Mac-like. Rhapsody was first demonstrated at the 1997 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and first saw real action as Mac OS X Server 1.0 in 1999.

Rokr Before the iPhone was the Rokr, a 2005 mobile phone made by Motorola that wasn’t smart but could play music downloaded from iTunes – although it was restricted to carrying a mere 100 songs. It didn’t look like something Steve Jobs would have allowed in his street let alone his trouser pocket, but he still managed to hold it up during its product launch without actually throwing up.

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