Easter eggs are little hidden messages or jokes added to software by chuckling developers – you have to hunt for them like, yes, easter eggs; except they’re not made of chocolate. These hidden gems appear on a specific set of commands, mouse clicks or keystrokes. You can find lists of Mac OS X easter eggs by searching on the internet.
There are also hardware or firmware easter eggs. Early Macs had pictures of the development team hidden in the ROM. The original Macintosh included signatures of the creators engraved on the inside of the moulded plastic case, as Steve Jobs considered all of the team as artists worthy of signing their masterpiece.
Apple used to be the major player in the educational IT market. Even at its lowest point in 1997, before the heroic return of Steve Jobs, 60 percent of all US school computer sales went to Apple. Half of Apple’s US sales in the 1980s were through education. In the early 1990s a third of the company’s revenues were from education.
But some claim that it was Apple’s focus and reliance on education that was its downfall. Writing in Wired in 1996 Lewis J. Perelman said ”education progressively stifled Apple's core business competency by entrenching an unholy alliance of customers, vendors, and staffers, who promoted and rewarded technological sloth and cultist delusion”.
Apple ignored the huge enterprise market, and hoped that kids taught on Apple PCs would buy and use the same when they left school. Instead the kids went straight from school into a world that was to be dominated by cheaper MS-DOS and Windows systems.
When Jobs left Apple in 1985 he founded NeXT to build computers for higher education. On his return he maintained that schools and colleges would pay a premium for the best equipment, but the world had moved on.
Even the removal of the humble, out-dated floppy drive played its part. While consumers quickly forgot the floppy, school IT managers could not. Apple’s move to USB-only printing in hardware and OS X was another nail in the blackboard, as schools had rooms full of old but still functional serial-port printers. Apple Education was, by 2002, in a “death spiral,” Dell moved in for the kill, and Apple got caned.
Winning the battle for educational IT spend helped Apple lose the business and home computer war.
There are signs that Apple is rebuilding its education market share, through its laptops, the iPhone halo effect and the embarrassment that was Windows Vista. “Apple surpassed Dell as the number one supplier of portables to US higher education for 2007,” Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook announced in 2008.
The number of Macs on US campuses rose 18 percent between 2009 and 2010. Cult of Mac reported that while only 200 schools used Macs versus 2,500 Windows-based locations in 2003, by 2009 the numbers were near even, with 1,400 schools using Macs versus 1,700 using Windows, according to Student Monitor.
The iPad is Apple’s latest weapon in the battle for education, and Apple at last has a product that at least matches the competition on price while blowing it away in terms of function and quality.
The ‘I’ in iMac stands for “internet”, Just dropping this simple letter in front of the word Mac appeared to utterly alter the fortunes of not just the Mac but Apple itself. In 1998 the Mac was poised for the scrapheap. The iMac almost instantly became the world’s most popular personal computer.
The idea therefore of jamming a lower-case vowel against the word Mac, Book, Pod, Pad or Phone was certainly a rum one. You can multiply your product line by 27 just by dreaming up appropriate words for each letter of the alphabet – ‘a’ for Audio, ‘b’ for Business, ‘c’ for Creative, ‘d’ for Designer, etc.
The ‘e’ in eMac stood for Education and was first seen in the cute eMate (which beat the iMac to the initial-little-letter gig so should claim some of the glory, although eWorld was first coined by the brilliantly-named-herself Cleo Huggins, Apple’s head of human interfaces). As stated above, Apple used to be Head Boy in the education IT sector, so a range of spin-off products made a lot of sense.
The original idea was for the eMac to be available only to the education market, but it was quickly released to the general public a month after its launch in April 2002 – although it went education-only again in 2005 in order to push non-scholars towards the pricier iMac.
It would have been fun if the ‘e’ handle had got some traction. Perhaps we’d have had an ePhone or ePad, and maybe even eLife school software. But it wasn’t to be. Apple CEO Steve Jobs prefers minimal product lines not voluminous lists of confusingly similar devices.
The eMate was a neat little classroom laptop that predated the netbook by about a decade. Essentially it was just a Newton PDA in a translucent crazy clamshell laptop case – so in some ways presaged the iPhone’s metamorphosis into the iPad (see, new iPad review).
Steve’s swift assassination of the Newton in 1998 meant an end to the eMate, too. But the handbag-like design was ported to the more able iBook the next year. Its futuristic curvelinear form gained it the nickname 'Batnewt', and it was later Batgirl's computer for a brief cameo appearance in the movie Batman & Robin. She uses it to hack a CD given to her by Alfred – even though the eMate had no CD drive.
Apple began developing a colour "bMate" model for business people, featuring a better screen and a StrongARM processor. Nothing more of this device was ever heard.
Chris Espinosa (second from left, above) was officially Apple Employee Number 8, and worked for the company at the age of 14 in Steve Jobs’ garage and later as an integral part of the original Macintosh team and in particular the Macintosh User Interface Guidelines.
Another short-lived Apple product that started with a small ‘e’ was the company’s 1994-96 easy-to-use online service eWorld, modelled on a concept of “buildings” offering various information services – email, for example, was the post office; shopping happened over at the Marketplace. There was a web browser, but it worked only through eWorld and only on Macs. Community chat rooms could have heralded Apple’s own social network a decade before Facebook and Twitter. But Apple gave eWorld minimal marketing, over-priced it as usual, ignored Windows, and eventually realised that AOL – which it had once part owned – was doing a better job, so gave up trying.
Apple used to hire people to go out and sing the praises of its products to hardware and software developers, businesses, the general public and anyone who’d listen. These Apple apostles were known as Evangelists – helping to fuel the fanatical cult mentality of Apple fans. The most famous Apple evangelist was Hawaiian Japanese American Guy Kawasaki – now a venture capitalist and prodigious blogger who has never been seen not smiling. Fact.
Boring, corporate spreadsheets seem tied to the boring, corporate PC market but in fact Microsoft launched Excel first on the Mac, in 1985. It didn’t make it to Windows until late 1987. That’s interesting.
Produced by the same people who brought you this exciting magazine the world’s biggest Mac exhibitions were the twice-yearly Macworld Expo events, where Apple unveiled its latest products during the opening keynote speeches, and hardware and software companies manned stands throwing t-shirts at the passing Mac throng. On the west coast the main Macworld Expo was held in San Francisco, and on the west coast it switched between Boston and New York.
In its heyday Macworld Expo was like a Roman orgy of Mac, with lavish corporate parties, free gifts, and excited crowds of fan boys queuing for nights to get into the prestigious Steve Jobs keynote so that they could whoop and shout “No way!” when he showed them a new mouse or whatever. Those really were the days.
But with its network of retail Apple Stores and its leader’s hatred of sharing space with anyone else Apple pulled out of the west coast shows in 2005, and from San Francisco in 2009.
Click on these letters to continue the Apple A-Z.