Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Aug 2013 17:55 UTC, submitted by MOS6510
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

In product lore, high profile gadgets that get killed are often more interesting than the ones that succeed. The Kin, the HP TouchPad, and the Edsel are all case studies in failure - albeit for different reasons. Yet in the history of those killings, nothing compared to the Apple Newton MessagePad. The Newton wasn't just killed, it was violently murdered, dragged into a closet by its hair and kicked to death in its youth by one of technology’s great men. And yet it was a remarkable device, one whose influence is still with us today. The Ur tablet. The first computer designed to free us utterly from the desktop.

'First' is debatable, but this was definitely an interesting product. It was far too complex though, and the simpler, more focussed Palm Pilot then showed the market how mobile computing ought to work - something Apple took to heart a decade later with the iPhone.

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RE[5]: Comment by tupp
by galvanash on Wed 7th Aug 2013 04:48 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by tupp"
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

One Apple invention from the original Mac all the readers of this comment use all the time: regions in your GUI. The Xerox PARC Smalltalk system didn't have self-repairing windows - you had to click in them to get them to repaint, and programs couldn't draw into partially obscured windows. Bill Atkinson did not know this, so he invented regions as the basis of QuickDraw and the Window Manager so that he could quickly draw in covered windows and repaint portions of windows brought to the front. Think about that when you move or size the window you are reading this in on your PC.


If anyone should be credited for inventing "regions" it should be Euclid. He beat Apple to it by about..., oh, I don't know, 2000 years or so.

The patent corresponding to your description is 4,622,505. What you are missing is it is NOT a patent on regions, it is a patent on non-retangular regions, actually a patent on a very specific method of implementing and storing them efficiently - it is primarily a compression patent.

It is so specific in fact that everyone pretty much just ignored it because they were already doing the same thing using BitBlts and it worked - it just required more memory. Contrary to your description, Xerox actually DID use regions (rectangular ones only) to update their GUI. I do not know if they had the issue with redraw you are describing, but they most certainly used rectangular regions in the Star GUI - because Apple references that fact in their patent.

Here we are like 30 years later - there are GUIs all over the place that work rather well - and not a single one of them violate this patent. It has never even been litigated.

Its a very neat optimization to be sure, but there is no debt the industry owes to Apple over it - its not like there weren't other programmers in 1984 that knew geometry...

I actually don't mind giving Apple credit where it is due... I give them credit for taking a poorly implemented concept (the Star GUI), realizing its true potential, and putting some serious brains and hours into getting it right. The Lisa was FAR ahead of the rest of the industry when it was released, and the Mac just widened the gap.

When Apple is firing on all cylinders, they don't need patents - they had a built in 10 year head start based purely on level of effort required for anyone to catch up. The only reason Windows ever became dominate was they had a software only model for a platform that escaped captivity and got so cheap Apple simply couldn't come close to price parity and stay in business...

Microsoft owes its success to pure luck - they just happened to be hitched to the right platform at the right time... It took them 15 years to honestly achieve anything close to parity with Mac OS.

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