Linked by umad on Thu 25th Aug 2011 22:51 UTC
Apple I thought OSNews would be a good forum to talk about a matter that has been weighing on my mind lately primarily because the site has been so focused on Apple's patents and litigation as of late. The news that HP, the largest PC manufacturer in the world is spinning off or getting out of this business is what really prompted me to write this article.
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RE[2]: Wait a minute...
by Dr.Mabuse on Sat 27th Aug 2011 05:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Wait a minute..."
Dr.Mabuse
Member since:
2009-05-19

"How much of the industry is littered with make-believe stories and innuendo?


Your entire post is innuendo, but let's just answer your question.
"

Ouch ... Must have touched a nerve.

I have to try and focus my reply, so excuse my snipping:

Steve Jobs and Apple engineers were specifically invited to tour PARC and see their inventions. In exchange for early access to Apple stock at a reduced price, Apple got to make products based on PARC concepts. Xerox invested itself in a company capable of delivering products based on its inventions, in order to share in any resultant success.

Two crucial points. One, the arrangement was Xerox's idea. Two, it was an offer exclusive to Apple.


So the idea of a "WIMP" GUI is *exclusive* to Apple? Presumably through patent or copyright transfer? Your provided links don't seem to support this idea. Where can I find more information on this (anyone?) A solid reference would be nice.

Do you support the idea the Microsoft copied code from Apple?

"It's also worth mentioning, that at the same time the Mac and PC were originally battling it out, the Amiga's operating system and user interface was light-years ahead of either of them. Never mind hardware specs.


Why is that worth mentioning? MacOS was already ahead of Windows at the time, so neither excellence nor originality won out, whether you take Amiga into consideration or not. Are you suggesting that if Apple had been more consistently and aggressively litigious, Amiga might not be around today? (Perish the thought.)
"

Yes, it's worth mentioning because this story is not really just about PC and Mac. There were numerous other players at the time, dozens of different user interfaces, some I'm sure some were influenced by the Mac, and others by Xerox and many had plenty of original ideas by themselves (see the Amiga's "screen" concept.)

The fact that Windows was hardly even used at the time (certainly until v3) means that the Mac's lack of "world domination" was nothing do with any perceived wrong-doing by Microsoft, but rather by the more open and performant platform that the PC was.

The argument, as I interpret it, is that Apple got shafted and knows enough to try not to get shafted again by whatever legal means it can muster. Having done some reading to respond to you, one interesting loophole I noticed is that UI elements weren't found to be out of scope of copyright per se, just that none of the ones Microsoft was using unlicensed were covered, nor was the overall innovative arrangement ("look and feel"). Since Apple didn't license the iOS interface to Google, they may even still have copyright ammunition despite the Look and Feel outcome.


IMHO: Apple make nice products for sure, but the fact is, without them we'd still have modern GUIs, we'd still have tablets, smart phones and we'd still have portable music and video players. They are not are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Are Apple and it's fans so immersed in the cult of victimhood that they fail to recognise that they didn't get "shafted" ? They were out-competed by products which performed better and cost less. The success they have now is because they have a good product that seems to fill a (much-hyped) niche. Who will they blame if (or when) this too comes to end?

Edited 2011-08-27 05:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Wait a minute...
by atsureki on Sat 27th Aug 2011 16:25 in reply to "RE[2]: Wait a minute..."
atsureki Member since:
2006-03-12

Ouch ... Must have touched a nerve.

I have to try and focus my reply, so excuse my snipping:


I meant the innuendo comment as literally as possible, that the original post didn't contain solid facts or assertions, but rather insinuated an alternate version of events with the use of rhetorical questions. I take the "ouch" to mean you thought otherwise.

And I appreciate pointed, essay-style replies; the line-by-line Usenet style arguing got old for me years ago, so snip all you like.

So the idea of a "WIMP" GUI is *exclusive* to Apple? Presumably through patent or copyright transfer? Your provided links don't seem to support this idea. Where can I find more information on this (anyone?) A solid reference would be nice.


My point in emphasizing those details was to dispel the various myths that Apple and Microsoft both copied Xerox in much the same manner. One fable has it that Bill Gates was also invited to PARC, which is false -- that's the part that was exclusive to Apple, in exchange for the stock purchase. Other versions say both Apple and Microsoft copied the Alto, which is also false: Xerox didn't have an actual product before it got Apple involved. Circumstantial evidence doesn't allow for that, either. Apple and Microsoft somehow made exactly the same enhancements to PARC's desktop system after taking the same cursory glance at a finished product?

At the time, Apple hadn't thought of using the patent system to protect its software innovations, and the court threw out their attempts at copyright claims, so exclusivity at least didn't end up being a legal right. It's the access arrangement that was exclusive to Apple: tech tours for stock. What happened after that is history.

Do you support the idea the Microsoft copied code from Apple?


It's my understanding that Microsoft had access to some of Apple's GUI code during the development of Office, and I believe they made use of it, but I don't know whether it was ever proven. Years later they set up a deal with Canyon, then in possession of Apple's Quicktime code, to develop Video for Windows, so I believe they (again) used Apple code to make unauthorized, competing products.

The fact that Windows was hardly even used at the time (certainly until v3) means that the Mac's lack of "world domination" was nothing do with any perceived wrong-doing by Microsoft, but rather by the more open and performant platform that the PC was.


I don't follow the reasoning here, or what you mean by "performant." Windows was always the more "open" (a better word would be flexible) platform; it only took off once it was mature, i.e. once it approached Mac usability.

For the record, I'm not proposing that Apple would have had the entire PC market as it was if not for Microsoft's disruption; my interest was only in setting the record straight on who innovated and/or stole what, and what a company in Apple's position might be able to do to prevent defeat at the hands of imitators. Patent protection for software hadn't been conceived of at the time; now filings are everywhere, and it's coming time to actually test them in court.

IMHO: Apple make nice products for sure, but the fact is, without them we'd still have modern GUIs, we'd still have tablets, smart phones and we'd still have portable music and video players. They are not are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.


That's speculation, not fact, and I counterspeculate that they would look and work more like CDE, UMPC, Blackberry, and Creative Zen respectively. Apple repeatedly puts the most work into an elegant design that the rest of the industry treats as a free template, originally with the Mac but especially now with iPhone and iPad knockoffs running Android. That they're trying to fight that is no vice, and if they win, it will be a positive precedent for originality, much needed after WebOS's failure. Lazy copying makes the world stand still.

Are Apple and it's fans so immersed in the cult of victimhood that they fail to recognise that they didn't get "shafted" ? They were out-competed by products which performed better and cost less. The success they have now is because they have a good product that seems to fill a (much-hyped) niche. Who will they blame if (or when) this too comes to end?


What do you call it when you work is used against you, leaving you with no legal recourse? I call it shafted.

Today's Apple is both more prolific and more aggressively plagiarized. Time will tell whether the courts have anything to say about the latter, but the former is what gives them a future.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Wait a minute...
by vitae on Sat 27th Aug 2011 20:23 in reply to "RE[3]: Wait a minute..."
vitae Member since:
2006-02-20

I call it shafted.



Ah see, but being shafted is all in the eye of the beholder. You don't like people borrowing from Apple's designs, and yet Apple has borrowed quite a bit from PARC, BSD, from the Mach, from KHTML, etc.

Now legally they're not obligated to give things back to these people who did the real work for them, but why after all this borrowing by Apple, do they not have a greater appreciation of the fact that software design has historically been shared amongst many different entities (despite Gates and Jobs claims to the contrary)? Why are they so quick to resort to litigation for even the smallest thing (say like an image viewer on a tablet that looks like their own)? They seem to be operating on the pirate's code:

"Take what you can. Give nothing back." - Jack Sparrow

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Wait a minute...
by Dr.Mabuse on Sun 28th Aug 2011 01:01 in reply to "RE[3]: Wait a minute..."
Dr.Mabuse Member since:
2009-05-19

I meant the innuendo comment as literally as possible, that the original post didn't contain solid facts or assertions, but rather insinuated an alternate version of events with the use of rhetorical questions. I take the "ouch" to mean you thought otherwise.


I asserted that Apple took ideas from Xerox. This is not innuendo by any stretch of the imagination. Aspects of the story you've told so far are still up for debate, see below.

Apple and Microsoft somehow made exactly the same enhancements to PARC's desktop system after taking the same cursory glance at a finished product?


I don't think Windows looked or behaved anything like an Apple product at the time.

http://www.fortunecity.com/marina/reach/435/windows.htm
http://internet.ls-la.net/ms-evolution/windows-1.01/
http://www.vectronicsappleworld.com/macintosh/lisagui.html
http://nd.edu/~jvanderk/sysone/

I've used them both too...

At the time, Apple hadn't thought of using the patent system to protect its software innovations, and the court threw out their attempts at copyright claims, so exclusivity at least didn't end up being a legal right. It's the access arrangement that was exclusive to Apple: tech tours for stock. What happened after that is history.


Does a tech tour mean exclusive rights? This is what I mean by innuendo. You've implied repeatedly that this deal gives them a certain privileges in the realm of ideas. You also state a court threw out their attempts to assert copyright - does this tell you anything?

It's my understanding that Microsoft had access to some of Apple's GUI code during the development of Office, and I believe they made use of it, but I don't know whether it was ever proven.


So we're speculating now? I thought you had the facts. :-)

My initial assertion still rings true: Any code copied would have to be *really* high level due to architecture differences. I was a 68k assembly coder and I can assure you that any transition of code (tailored to the 68k) to x86 16-bit real mode would be a nightmare. It would be far easier starting from scratch.

There is a great blog by a fella named "Dad Hacker" and he talks about the same trouble Atari had when porting GEM from DEC to the then-new ST. The original GEM was x86 based.

But don't let that stop you from believing it by any means...

I don't follow the reasoning here, or what you mean by "performant." Windows was always the more "open" (a better word would be flexible) platform; it only took off once it was mature, i.e. once it approached Mac usability.


The Mac was slow. The interface was slow. The display was a tiny black & white CRT. Their processors might have been comparable in clock speeds and MIPS, but PCs generally ran rings around Macs. The PC had crappy graphics, but the display was clear in text mode. That's why you bought a PC, it was cheaper and it did the job. That's coming from a former Amiga owner!

For the record, I'm not proposing that Apple would have had the entire PC market as it was if not for Microsoft's disruption; my interest was only in setting the record straight on who innovated and/or stole what, and what a company in Apple's position might be able to do to prevent defeat at the hands of imitators.


That's the damn problem - they didn't innovate in this circumstance, did they? They used existing ideas, like everyone else! I'm fighting the thought-process that this could be considered "innovation."

The original article takes this to another a level and plays the "what if" card and then tries to justify Apple's modern bad behaviour.

"IMHO: Apple make nice products for sure, but the fact is, without them we'd still have modern GUIs, we'd still have tablets, smart phones and we'd still have portable music and video players. They are not are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.


That's speculation, not fact, and I counterspeculate that they would look and work more like CDE, UMPC, Blackberry, and Creative Zen respectively. Apple repeatedly puts the most work into an elegant design that the rest of the industry treats as a free template, originally with the Mac but especially now with iPhone and iPad knockoffs running Android.
"

It is a fact. An absolute FACT - those technologies exist absolutely independently of Apple. That cross-pollination of ideas exists in the market no one denies. I'm absolutely sure Apple's ideas have influenced others. And equally sure Apple have looked at other technology and said "sure, we'll borrow that" (see this whole thread.)

That they're trying to fight that is no vice, and if they win, it will be a positive precedent for originality, much needed after WebOS's failure. Lazy copying makes the world stand still.


Outrageous! When Apple copy, it's innovation, when others do it then they are lazy. Do you work for Apple? Got Apple shares?

And it damned sure is a VICE when they are trying to manipulate court systems to get their own way at the expense of others (see the recent Samsung experience.)

What do you call it when you work is used against you, leaving you with no legal recourse? I call it shafted.


I think we have entirely different world-views (at least on this matter.) I think Apple has innovated and I think they have lifted ideas. They have made nice products and they continue to make nice products. I think some people are jumping through mental hoops to try and justify Apple's recent litigious behaviour, by viewing history through what I would call a "Apple distortion field." Almost anything good about computer interfaces seems to be attributed to Apple, but I disagree with that. It would be nice if Apple could compete on merit alone and there by recognising their own dependence upon "borrowed-ideas."

Edited 2011-08-28 01:06 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Wait a minute...
by JAlexoid on Sun 28th Aug 2011 20:31 in reply to "RE[3]: Wait a minute..."
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

That's speculation, not fact, and I counterspeculate that they would look and work more like CDE, UMPC, Blackberry, and Creative Zen respectively. Apple repeatedly puts the most work into an elegant design that the rest of the industry treats as a free template, originally with the Mac but especially now with iPhone and iPad knockoffs running Android. That they're trying to fight that is no vice, and if they win, it will be a positive precedent for originality, much needed after WebOS's failure. Lazy copying makes the world stand still.


Based on history of other technologies, I can make an educated guess that we would not have stayed with "CDE, UMPC, Blackberry, and Creative Zen". Otherwise it's not Creative Zen we would have been stuck with, it would be a portably wind-up vinyl player.(Since you imply that we would stay at the level of the first invention)

Apple isn't the only one that can dream up stuff.
http://adaptivepath.com/ideas/aurora-concept-video-part-1
http://www.dontclick.it/

Reply Parent Score: 2