Apple Computer UK Limited refuse to release new product information until the very day of the 'official launch', so we were greatly relieved that that information presented in Mac Notes October — which was culled from US press briefings — turned out to be accurate.
In case you haven't heard, Apple announced the following new machines:
• Two new PowerBooks, the (25MHz) 160 and the (33MHz) 180, which differ from the 140/145 in offering 16-level grey scale screens, a built-in video output (capable of delivering 256 colours to monitors up to 16"), and internal RAM expansion to 14MB.
• Two new mid-range Macs, the (16MHz) IIvi and (32MHz) IIvx — that replace the IIsi and IIci respectively. Both models offer three NuBus slots, RAM expansion up to 68MB, and internal large drive bays capable of containing 5.25" devices such as Apple's new fast CD-300i CD ROM. The IIvx also sports a built-in RAM cache and floating point coprocessor.
• The Macintosh Duo 210 (25MHz) and 230 (33MHz) — notebooks weighing only 4lbs, designed to 'dock' with with desktop-bound boxes called DuoDocks that sport ADB/serial ports, SCSI, a SuperDrive, a video output (monitors can be placed on top of the DuoDock), room for an internal hard drive and two NuBus slots. Alternatively you can plug into a MiniDock, which provides ADB/serial ports, a SuperDrive, SCSI, and video output only.
From the music perspective, the significance of the new Macs is, unfortunately, their lack of music-oriented features such as 16-bit stereo audio, or a MIDI interface — both features found on Atari's new Falcon030 (reviewed last month). On the other hand, the Mac music hardware and software portfolio is impressive — the Mac still leads the field, at least in the professional arena. At least we know that new machines offering 16-bit stereo audio are on the drawing board, though we may have to wait until October 1993 to see them.
The six new Macs outlined above bring Apple's 1992 product launch tally to eight, an indication of the continuing evolution of a company that released only eight machines between 1984 and 1988.
The changes began back in 1990, with the launch of Apple's first low cost high volume products — the Classic and the LC. Last year's agreement with Sony allowed the Japanese giant to manufacture the PowerBook 100 in return for supplying many of the Mac's components. Most recently, Apple announced its intention to move into the electronic consumer goods arena with the futuristic looking Newton, the world's first PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), a device that will be manufactured in Japan by Sharp.
Of greater significance, however, is the alliance with former enemy and market leader IBM. The full extent of the pact shocked the computer industry when it was announced in July last year, many pundits predicting the marriage would not last. In fact, the following joke made the rounds at the US trade shows: "What do you get if you cross Apple and IBM?" "IBM". However, so far at least, the real answer to the question has been Taligent and Kaleida, two new companies funded and staffed — more or less equally — by both partners.
Kaleida is currently developing Script X, a multimedia scripting language, the Consumer Operating System (COS — a real time media operating system), and a multi-platform Run Time Engine (RTE). These software elements are destined to be combined in the creation of multimedia titles that can play on a number of computer and consumer electronic devices, possibly including Apple's Sharp-built Newton, and certainly Apple's second range of PDA's that will be built by Toshiba.
In fact the Apple/IBM deal is a marriage made in heaven, Apple's software expertise complementing perfectly IBM's hardware prowess. More specifically, the deal offered IBM the opportunity to gain greater control over its operating system (OS) software. At present, Microsoft have a virtual PC OS monopoly with MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System), a Command Line Interface (CLI), and Windows, a Mac OS-like Graphical User Interface (GUI). Sales figures of IBM's own GUI OS — called OS/2 — are a fraction of those for Windows 3.1.
The first fruits of the Apple/IBM romance will be a new generation of computers based around the Power PC — an IBM-designed RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) microprocessor. Currently, all Macs utilise Motorola's 680x0 CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) chip; see ST Notes October).
Code written for the Power PC chip is incompatible with the 680x0 series — however, the former's massive processing speed advantage means that the both the Mac OS (System 7.x) and IBM's OS/2 can run under emulation. In other words, for the first time, one machine will run both Mac and and PC software. (Power PC-based platforms will also run PowerOpen, a hybrid of AIX and A/UX, IBM and Apple's respective versions of AT&T's UNIX, a popular high end workstation OS).
Well before the IBM deal was struck, Apple were busy developing a new Object Orientated OS codenamed 'Pink', so called for reasons best known to Apple's programmers (who have a reputation for eccentricity). With the advent of the IBM deal, Pink is being developed under the auspices of Taligent into the native OS for the Power PC chip. Being native (ie. not an emulator). Taligent's OS will run far faster than System 7.0 or OS/2, since it will be running as native code, not under emulation.
We can expect to see the first Power PC-based platforms next year, with Taligent's new OS arriving sometime in '94. As you can imagine, Apple's range of Power PC's will not bear the legend Macintosh. By then, the Mac will be last year's thing...
Feature by Kendall Wrightson
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!