The Original Macintosh
Anecdotes about the development of Apple's original Macintosh, and the people who made it (66 stories)
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -- Leonardo DaVinci

Steve Jobs:  (66)
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There was some friction between the Mac and Lisa teams
March 1982
Andy Hertzfeld
Lisa,Management,Personality,Personality Clashes,Lisa Rivalry

By early 1982, the Macintosh was beginning to be acknowledged as a significant project within Apple, instead of a quirky research effort, but it still remained somewhat controversial. Since the Mac was sort of like a Lisa that was priced like an Apple II, it was seen as potential competition from both groups. Also, our leader Steve Jobs had a habit of constantly boasting about the superiority of the Mac team, which tended to alienate everybody else.

Larry Tesler, who came to Apple from Xerox PARC in the summer of 1980, was the manager of the Lisa Application Software team. He understood and appreciated the potential of the Macintosh and was very supportive of the project. He was concerned that some of the Lisa team didn't share his enthusiasm, and thought that it would be helpful for us to demonstrate the Mac to his team and talk about our plans with them. He arranged for Burrell Smith and me to give a demo during a lunch-time meeting.

By this point, we had stand-alone Macintosh prototypes that no longer depended on an umbilical cord to a hosting Lisa. We didn't have the real plastic cases yet, but we were able to house the prototypes in plastic boxes of around the same size that were a passable imitation. The demo software environment was based on the "Lisa Monitor", a simple operating system cooked up by one of the main Lisa architects, Rich Page, that I got running on the Macintosh. The monitor was based on the UCSD Pascal system Filer and offered a simple, menu-based UI. We were able to boot the Mac into the monitor from an Apple II floppy, and then use it to launch various demo programs.

Burrell and I set up the prototype in a large conference room in the Lisa building. The Lisa applications team was seated around the table, but quite a few other Lisa team members had also gathered around, standing room only, perhaps twenty-five people in all. Larry Tesler gave us a nice introduction, and then we booted up the prototype and started to run through various demos while explaining the capabilities of the machine. Everything seemed to be going well, when suddenly there was a loud, insistent knock at the conference room door.

Before anyone could respond, the door was flung open, and in strode Rich Page, the systems wizard who was one of the main designers of the Lisa. Rich was a tall, bearded, ursine engineer, equally adept at hardware and software, who was responsible for getting Lisa to use the 68000, and had personally ported or created many of the tools that both the Macintosh and Lisa teams were using. But I had never seen him looking as angry as he was at the moment.

"You guys don't know what you're doing!", he began to growl, obviously in an emotional state of mind, "The Macintosh is going to destroy the Lisa! The Macintosh is going to ruin Apple!!!"

Burrell and I didn't know how to respond, and neither did anyone else in the room. Larry Tesler gave me an embarrassed glance, trying to figure out what to do. But Rich wasn't particularly interested in a response, he just wanted to vent his frustration.

"Steve Jobs wants to destroy Lisa because we wouldn't let him control it", Rich continued, almost looking like he was going to start crying. "Sure, it's easy to throw a prototype together, but it's hard to ship a real product. You guys don't understand what you're getting into. The Mac can't run Lisa software, the Lisa can't run Mac software. You don't even care. Nobody's going to buy a Lisa because they know the Mac is coming! But you don't care!"

With that, he turned around and strode out of the conference room, as quickly as he had come in. He slammed the door as he left, with the noise reverberating ominously in the stunned silence. There was some nervous laughter, but nobody knew what to say. Larry Tesler started to apologize, explaining that Rich didn't speak for most of the Lisa team, when suddenly the door was flung open again and Rich Page was back, just as angry as before.

"And another thing...", he said, before pausing to look directly at Burrell and myself. "I don't have any problem with you, I know it's not your fault. Steve Jobs is the problem. Tell Steve that I think that he's destroying Apple!" Once again, he turned around and left abruptly, slamming the door for a second time. We steeled our ourselves, wondering if he was going to return for a third round.

But this time, Larry was able to finish apologizing, and then we finished the demo quickly and held a brief question and answer session, with everyone still a bit shell-shocked from the unexpected outburst. We told Steve Jobs about Rich Page's oration later that afternoon, and he just shrugged, "That's Rich Page for you. He'll get over it."

The next morning Bill Atkinson called and told me that Rich Page felt bad about what happened and he wanted to take Burrell and me out to lunch to apologize. So that afternoon, the four of us went out for a long lunch, where Bill explained that Rich was just trying to do what he thought was right, and he didn't intend to get so emotional. Rich told us that he really appreciates that Burrell and I were doing great work for the company, but he was frustrated that Steve was such a loose cannon, and wasn't working for our mutual success. We left on decent terms, but in the back of my mind I was still worried that such obvious resentment would be a problem for us in the future.
We interview candidates for software manager
March 1982
Andy Hertzfeld

When Bud told us in early December of 1981 that he had to leave the Mac team to go back to Seattle to keep his place in medical school, both Burrell and I were pretty shaken. We were worried that we couldn't pull it off without Bud and that we'd get some authoritarian manager instead, who would wreck the unique spirit of our team. We expressed our concerns to Steve, who promised us that we'd have a big say in hiring the new manager, and that he would personally protect us if a situation like the one we were fearing ever arose.

In January, we began interviewing candidates for the software manager position. We had high standards and expectations and interviewed a number of outstanding people, like Ed Taft (who became one of the first employees at Adobe) and Tim Mott (who helped start Electronic Arts), who for one reason or another didn't take the job. But we also interviewed some more mundane candidates, which could sometimes get pretty wild if Steve decided he didn't respect someone.

For example, Burrell, Steve and I interviewed Angeline Lo's former manager, whom she highly recommended. As soon as the guy walked into the room, I knew it was going to be problematic, because he seemed extremely straight-laced and uptight, dressing more like an insurance salesman than a technologist. He also seemed very nervous as he fumbled at our first few questions.

I could tell that Steve was losing patience when he started to roll his eyes at the candidate's responses. Steve began to grill him with some unconventional questions.

"How old were you when you lost your virginity?", Steve asked

The candidate wasn't sure if he heard correctly. "What did you say?"

Steve repeated the question, changing it slightly. "Are you a virgin?". Burrell and I started to laugh, as the candidate became more disconcerted. He didn't know how to respond.

Steve changed the subject. "How many times have you taken LSD?"

The poor guy was turning varying shades of red, so I tried to change the subject and asked a straight-forward technical question. But when he started to give a long-winded response, Steve got impatient again.

"Gooble, gobble, gobble, gobble", Steve started making turkey noises. This was too much for Burrell and myself, and we all started cracking up. "Gobble, gobble, gobble", Steve continued, laughing himself now.

At this point, the candidate stood up. "I guess I'm not the right guy for this job", he said.

"I guess you're not", Steve responded. "I think this interview is over."
We almost lose Bill in a car accident
April 1982
Andy Hertzfeld
Software Design,QuickDraw,Personality

The single most significant component of the original Macintosh technology was QuickDraw, the graphics package written by Bill Atkinson for the Lisa project, which pushed pixels around the frame buffer at blinding speeds to create the celebrated user interface. One of QuickDraw's main jobs was to provide the primitives for quickly drawing text and graphics into overlapping windows, when the window that you're drawing into may be partially obscured by other windows. Applications could just draw without worrying if their window was obstructed because Quickdraw, with a little help from the window manager, would take care of the clipping to make sure pixels stayed inside in their window.

Overlapping windows can form complex shapes, especially if their corners are rounded. The key data structure in QuickDraw was called a "region", which compactly represented an area of the screen. QuickDraw provided routines that allowed the programmer to define regions by using the built-in drawing primitives, and to perform operations with them like union and intersection. Most importantly, all of the QuickDraw drawing primitives clipped to the intersection of three different regions, to allow drawing into obscured windows. We considered QuickDraw's speed and deftness at region handling to be the most significant "crown jewel" in Apple's entire arsenal.

The region data structure was a variable-sized list of what Bill called "inversion points", the coordinate values where black changed to white or vice versa. Since most regions were mostly rectangular, there weren't many inversion points, so regions were quite compact. But occasionally, there were lots of inversions, like in a circle, so regions grew as necessary.

QuickDraw was written entirely by Bill Atkinson, and in the spring of 1982 it was still evolving. He had recently sped up region operations by more than a factor of four. The concept of "pictures", a set of drawing operations grouped together for easy playback, was just added to the package, and hadn't really settled down yet. At this point, the Lisa applications were beginning to come together and Bill was changing QuickDraw in response to what they needed.

One morning, we were shocked to hear that Bill had gotten into a really bad car accident on his way into work. Apparently, he had turned a corner and not seen a parked truck, and slammed his little Corvette into the truck, shearing the roof off the top of his car. Bill was knocked unconscious and got pretty banged up, although he was still in one piece - one of the police officers who surveyed the wrecked Corvette commented that it was a miracle that Bill wasn't decapitated. This was a little more than a year after Woz's plane crash, but it brought back memories of that.

When Steve Jobs heard about the accident, he immediately jumped into his car and drove to the hospital where they had taken Bill. He was in a hospital bed, and had only recently regained consciousness by the time Steve arrived. He sustained a head injury and lost some blood, but luckily there were no major problems.

Steve entered the hospital room and was relieved to see that Bill had regained consciousness. "Is everything OK?", Steve asked. "We were pretty worried about you."

Bill turned his head and looked at Steve. He managed a painful smile. "Don't worry, Steve, I still remember regions."

Developer documentation was crucial to our success.
June 1982
Andy Hertzfeld
Documentation,Software Design,Lisa

One of the main differences between the Lisa and Macintosh projects was the way that they viewed third party developers. The Lisa team was writing an integrated suite of seven office-oriented applications internally, so they didn't see a need to support third party developers at first, although they planned to do it eventually.

The Macintosh, inspired by the Apple II, took a different approach. The Apple II's sales had increased more than ten-fold when a tiny company named Software Arts released the first spreadsheet, Visicalc, which initially ran only on the Apple II. We wanted all the people who resonated with our Macintosh dream to be able to extend it with own creativity, so having first class support for third party developers was considered to be a must, from the very beginning.

But that was easier said than done. Lisa's stance was quite reasonable, because consistency between applications was very important to us. There were virtually no third party developers who were familiar with a graphical user interface, so we had to educate them about a whole new approach to programming. In those days, every application provided its own unique user interface, and we weren't sure that it was even possible to coordinate independent developers to conform to our ideas about a consistent user interface.

In fact, in early 1982 our user interface was still evolving, and everyone on the team didn't necessarily agree about the best way to do things, especially in situations that hadn't been considered yet. It seemed like the next logical step was to formally document and codify our user interface, to identify and resolve open issues and communicate it to third party developers.

One forcing function was a looming meeting with our initial third-party developer, Microsoft (see Shut Up!), who was coming to pick up their first Macintosh prototypes and developer documentation around the end of January. We held a series of intense, all day meetings in the second week of January 1982, to thrash out disagreements and formulate a shared view of the UI, metaphorically locking ourselves in a room until we came to consensus. The meetings were attended by Steve Jobs, Bill Atkinson, Joanna Hoffman, Chris Espinosa, Randy Wigginton (who had left Apple in September 1981, but agreed to write MacWrite for us as a semi-independent developer) and me.

The Lisa User Interface was our obvious starting point, but we had a drive to simplify things, and tried to strip out anything that seemed too complex. Triple-click was easy to get rid of, for example, but it was hard to agree about the details of scroll bars. After two and a half days, we thought that we were more or less in agreement, and decided that Joanna should write up the current state of the design. She wrote the first draft of the "Macintosh User Interface Guidelines" in time for the Microsoft meeting the following week, where we presented it for the very first time. Eventually, Chris Espinosa took over authorship of the guidelines, augmenting and amending them as necessary as development proceeded.

By April 1982, the first implementation of the User Interface Toolbox, which contained the code that implemented UI objects like windows, menus, buttons and scrollbars, was ready for the initial release to developers. Since most developers had never programmed a graphical user interface before, it was very important to write high quality developer documentation to explain the ins and outs of using the toolbox. Chris Espinosa had already written some excellent documentation for using QuickDraw, so we were off to a good start.

I met with Chris about the toolbox documentation and we decided to tackle the window manager first. He assigned a recently hired technical writer, a women in her mid-twenties who will remain mercifully nameless in this story, to work with me to document the Window Manager API.

One afternoon, I sat down with the writer for a few hours with some print-outs of the source code, and went over the Window Manager API with her in fine detail. I was a bit worried because I did most of the talking, and she didn't ask any questions, but she promised to show me her first draft in just a few days.

A few days later, Chris Espinosa handed me a few pages of Window Manager documentation, with the caveat that it was a very early draft, so I shouldn't expect too much. But my heart sank as I began to read it. The actual window manager calls were accurately reproduced, as were the comments from the header file, but the descriptions of each call made no sense; it was clear that she didn't understand many of the underlying QuickDraw and memory manager concepts, and instead of asking for an explanation, she just made up whatever popped into her head.

I had a panicky meeting with Chris, but he was able to calm me down and convince me to give the writer another chance. I met with both of them, explaining the problems that I had with what she had done so far. She was amazingly blithe and cheerful about it, saying that she knew that she didn't understand everything, but figured that I would correct anything that was wrong. We had another longer meeting, where I did my best to explain the underlying concepts like handles and regions, and went over the Window Manager API again, this time asking her if she had any questions at the end of each routine. It still seemed to me like she was having trouble understanding things, no matter how carefully I tried to explain, but she didn't seem worried about it at all.

The next draft was just as bad as the previous one, and I felt even worse, given all the effort that I put into it. Chris was defensive, and I began to despair of ever getting decent documentation for the toolbox. So I was suprised when he entered my cubicle a couple of days later, with a smile on his face.

"We've just made an offer to a new writer", he told, "someone who I think will do a much better job on the technical side of things, since she used to be a programmer. Her name is Caroline Rose. I'm going to assign her to the window manager documentation and see what you think."

The next week I sat down to meet with Caroline for the first time, and she couldn't have been more different than the previous writer. As soon as I began to explain the first routine, she started bombarding me with questions. She didn't mind admitting it when she didn't understand something, and she wouldn't stop badgering me until she comprehended every nuance. She began to ask me questions that I didn't know the answers to, like what happened when certain parameters were invalid. I had to keep the source code open on the screen of my Lisa when I met with her, so I could figure out the answers to her questions while she was there.

Pretty soon, I figured out that if Caroline had trouble understanding something, it probably meant that the design was flawed. On a number of occasions, I told her to come back tomorrow after she asked a penetrating question, and revised the API to fix the flaw that she had pointed out. I began to imagine her questions when I was coding something new, which made me work harder to get things clearer before I went over them with her.

Initially, we distributed the raw documentation to developers piecemeal, as it was written, but eventually we wanted to collect it into one definitive reference called "Inside Macintosh". It was almost 1000 pages long, spread across three volumes, mostly written by Caroline with help from Bob Anders, Brad Hacker, Steve Chernicoff and a few others. Steve Jobs insisted on very high production standards for the first edition, naturally, using only the best binding and paper available. But high quality printing takes time, and the evangelists were impatient to get the definitive documentation out to developers as soon as possible.

I'm not sure whose idea it was, but a compromise was finally reached. Apple would publish a free, soft-bound "promotional" edition of Inside Macintosh on low quality paper as soon as possible, and send a copy for free to every developer. It was about as thick and flimsy as the Yellow Pages, so it became known as the "phone book" edition. Most developers still bought the high quality, beautiful hardback edition when it came out a few months later, anyway.
A double standard for secrecy
June 1982
Jerry Manock
Celebrities,Industrial Design,Social Life

The Macintosh Team was sworn to the utmost secrecy about our project. We were moved to the top floor of a non-descript two story office building about two blocks from the established Bandley Drive Apple complex. There was no identification on our door. Our view west was of a Texaco gas station... thus the name "Texaco Towers" spontaneously evolved for the new Macintosh-in-development headquarters (see Texaco Towers). Steve Jobs would come over to visit us several times a day to stay on top of our progress. On these visits he alternated between "cheerleader" and "strict parent." Ever-present was his enthusiasm, his dedication to excellent design, and his exhortation to keep our project confidential.

The Jef Raskin Macintosh hardware concept was of a "portable" computer with a keyboard that rotated up to cover and protect a small rectangular CRT screen next to the floppy disk drive. One day Steve came bounding through our Texaco Towers door to announce that the overriding theme was now "minimal footprint on a desk" instead of "portability." He had been to a mall over the weekend and had been looking at "appliances." This term was to have considerable marketing usage in the next few years. Terry Oyama and I immediately started sketching a design that had the CRT above the floppy disk drive and motherboard, which gave the desired smaller footprint. To avoid a boxy look with sharp edges we felt would be intimidating to the user, we employed radiuses on the side corners and a large chamfer on the back. Another goal of ours was to make the back of the computer (which we realized could, in fact, be facing a visitor to user's office) as aesthetically pleasing as the front. Terry and I had traveled to the Hanover (Germany) Fair previously and determined that this would be a radical departure from current practice. For a similar reason we always tried to deal with "cable management" in an aesthetic way instead of the common "rat's nest" still seen today behind EDP equipment. But I digress.

One afternoon, when the project was in its advanced stages, Steve burst through the door, unannounced, in an exuberant mood. He had two guests... Joan Baez and her sister, Mimi Farina. Steve had been to lunch with them nearby and apparently could not contain himself when Joan asked him for advice on which computer to buy for her son, Gabe. Not only did he tell them about our Macintosh-in-development but he decided to SHOW it to them too. We sat there doubly dumfounded at the disclosure of our secret project to an outsider... who happened to be a huge celebrity... that we actually got to meet! Hopefully Steve had them sign a non-disclosure agreement, but I never saw it.

This was not the last time we saw Joan Baez. Steve invited her to an Apple Macintosh Black Tie "Christmas" party one February at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. I have a vivid memory of being on the dance floor with my wife, waltzing between dinner courses to the music of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and bumping into Joan and Steve as they went swirling by. Apple sure knew how to throw a party!
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