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[3]: Comment by tupp
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 6th Aug 2013 22:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by tupp"
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

Hockey puck mouse.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/ba/Apple-hockey-puck-mou...




Apple ipod socks

http://cdn.cnet.com.au/cnet2/i/r/2006/mp3/accessories/22055240/appl...


I'm sure there are more uniquely apple inventions. Can't think of anymore at the moment.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by tupp
by Tony Swash on Tue 6th Aug 2013 23:30 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by tupp"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

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.

That wasn't the only thing Apple created.

Drag-and- drop file manipulation came from the Mac group, along with many other unique concepts: resources and dual-fork files for storing layout and international information apart from code; definition procedures; drag-and-drop system extension and configuration; types and creators for files; direct manipulation editing of document, disk, and application names; redundant typed data for the clipboard; multiple views of the file system; desk accessories; and control panels, among others. The Lisa group invented some fundamental concepts as well: pull down menus, the imaging and windowing models based on QuickDraw and the clipboard.

But ultimately isn't the very premise that this discussion is based upon actually very puerile?

In what other area of human technical and productive activity does such silly discourse take place? Looking at the evolution of car design and production, or metallurgy, it is taken as obvious that on the one hand all important steps forward in technology flow from and are based on what came before, and on the other hand that certain moments are critical in shaping the unfolding of technological and industrial development.

Rather than using words like 'invention', a word that invites pedantry and the obsessive search for the proof or disproof of any claim of innovation, I think it is better to use metaphors drawn from the study of ecological systems, evolution and natural selection. Then one can start using terms like significant mutational events that create a pedigree of change that cascades up the evolutionary tree. Richard Dawkins has a great term, he often discuss what makes a 'good ancestor' and by that he means what speciation event, what mutational event, founded lines of new species which led to large scale and significant new lines of change and evolution.

If one looks at say, the history of the PC and of it's GUI interface, then one can see several great mutational events, each of which connect to each other, the work of Douglas Engelbart, the work at Xerox on Smalltak, the work at Apple on the Lisa and the Macintosh, Microsoft's work on Windows 95, were all critical in creating the world of modern personal computing, each contributed significantly to shaping the modern personal, computer, each took from what came before, added to to it and was in turn the foundation upon which what came after was built.

I know there are those who, for whatever reasons. love to argue that Apple invents nothing (that pernicious word again), that all Apple does is copy or adapt, etc, etc. But it is quite clear that Apple has been associated with a number of mutational events in the history of personal computing technology: the work on the Mac which made coherent a modern GUI and got it into a system that individuals, rather than corporations, could aspire to own and operate, the iPod and iTunes which completely changed the music industry, the iPhone which completely changed the smart phone market and the iPad which completely changed the tablet market and as a consequence is transforming the PC market. It is also clear that when Apple is functioning well and at it's best, which it didn't for quite long periods in it's history, Apple can be the source of significant mutational events. Maybe it will never do that again, but even so it's track record, by the standards of it's peers, is pretty good.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE[5]: Comment by tupp
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 7th Aug 2013 00:00 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by tupp"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Hard to argue with that. I just thought the ipod sock was fun/awesome. The hockey puck mouse was just about the worse thing they've ever made. In order to succeed you have to be willing to fail on some level.

I think when looking at apple or the things it does, people pay way too much attention to what they do, as opposed to why they do things when the do things. That's the important thing. There is a certain time when a development will fail regardless of how good of an idea it is, because the things that will make that a great idea don't exist yet. Having the idea for a steam engine 100,000 years ago, was kind of pointless as there wasn't any material strong enough to build it. Kind of like Babbage and his machine. Having lungs to breath oxygen was a terrible adaptation, if there wasn't any oxygen.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[5]: Comment by tupp
by kwan_e on Wed 7th Aug 2013 01:58 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by tupp"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Rather than using words like 'invention', a word that invites pedantry and the obsessive search for the proof or disproof of any claim of innovation, I think it is better to use metaphors drawn from the study of ecological systems, evolution and natural selection. Then one can start using terms like significant mutational events that create a pedigree of change that cascades up the evolutionary tree. Richard Dawkins has a great term, he often discuss what makes a 'good ancestor' and by that he means what speciation event, what mutational event, founded lines of new species which led to large scale and significant new lines of change and evolution.


You keep getting it backwards. What you're basically saying is:

"Rather than using objectivity, which leads to an obsessive search for facts, we should choose the line of reasoning which best fits with my a priori conclusion".

I've read a lot of Dawkins, but I don't remember the context of what you claim he said. From my own rudimentary knowledge of biological/ecological systems, though, your ancestor criteria doesn't work because complex animals do not exchange genes easily.

However, ideas, like those built on technology have a lot of cross-polination, which happens very frequently in bacteria and is a main reason how drug resistance spreads that purely generational inheritance cannot achieve in time.

Technology simply does not evolve by sexual reproduction, and so you cannot limit the discussion such that you can only consider ideas when they originate within one company's products.

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE[5]: Comment by tupp
by galvanash on Wed 7th Aug 2013 04:48 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.

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE[5]: Comment by tupp
by tupp on Wed 7th Aug 2013 08:30 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by tupp"
tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

Thank you for your response.

Unfortunately, you didn't give a nice and orderly list of Apple inventions, but I have condensed your Apple invention points into a list below. Please correct any listings that are inaccurate.


TONY SWASH'S LIST OF APPLE INVENTIONS:

1. Self-repairing windows;
2, Pull down menus;
3. Drag-and-drop file manipulation;
4. Drag-and-drop system extension and configuration;
5. Direct manipulation editing of document, disk, and application names (renaming files directly?);
6. Control panels;
7. Regions in your GUI (which is somehow related to self-repairing windows?)
8. Resources and dual-fork files for storing layout and international information apart from code;
9. Definition procedures;
10. Types and creators for files;
11. Redundant typed data for the clipboard;
12. Multiple views of the file system;
13. Desk accessories;
14. The imaging and windowing models based on QuickDraw and the clipboard.

I do not understand the inventions claimed in items #7 through #14. Honestly, those items sound obvious and/or inconsequential, but you will have to further explain those items (#7 through #14) if we are assess them. Please do so in an orderly and succinct manner.

Please also explain the qualifiers to drag-and-drop in items #3 and #4.

As soon as we are clear on what is claimed to be invented by Apple, then we can proceed.


But ultimately isn't the very premise that this discussion is based upon actually very puerile?

Perhaps the premise of this discussion seems puerile to one whose arguments don't stand up to such scrutiny.

It is best for all here and for future discussions to determine once and for all what Apple has actually contributed to the computer and electronics world.


In what other area of human technical and productive activity does such silly discourse take place? Looking at the evolution of car design and production, or metallurgy, it is taken as obvious that on the one hand all important steps forward in technology flow from and are based on what came before, and on the other hand that certain moments are critical in shaping the unfolding of technological and industrial development.

Sounds like a dismissive defense from someone whose belief system is close to being proven wrong.


Rather than using words like 'invention', a word that invites pedantry and the obsessive search for the proof or disproof of any claim of innovation, I think it is better to use metaphors drawn from the study of ecological systems, evolution and natural selection.

I disagree. Most of this stuff is essentially "cut and dry." There is tangible, non-Apple prior art for most of the things that fanboys believe Apple invented.

We are trying to determine what actually originated at Apple.


If one looks at say, the history of the PC and of it's GUI interface, then one can see several great mutational events, each of which connect to each other, the work of Douglas Engelbart, the work at Xerox on Smalltak, the work at Apple on the Lisa and the Macintosh, Microsoft's work on Windows 95, were all critical in creating the world of modern personal computing, each contributed significantly to shaping the modern personal, computer, each took from what came before, added to to it and was in turn the foundation upon which what came after was built.

I think that what we really need to do is to just cut the BS. In many cases, we can pinpoint "who invented what." Most Apple fanboys don't realize that almost all of the the GUI that we use today was already invented, developed and in customer's hands, before the Apple Lisa even appeared. Furthermore, significant GUI innovation prior to the Apple Lisa came from players other than Xerox.

A big problem with Apple fanboys relating to GUI history is that they never seem to remember these non-Xerox, pre-Lisa GUI players. In addition, fanboys ignore all of the GUI features included in the Xerox Star, which appeared one year before the Apple Lisa. Another thing about Apple fanboys is that they tend to take everything written in fokelore.org to be the gospel truth, even with all the contradictions, egos, and obvious lack of knowledege on the part of Apple employees regarding the internal development in the other GUI companies.


I know there are those who, for whatever reasons. love to argue that Apple invents nothing (that pernicious word again), that all Apple does is copy or adapt, etc, etc.

No doubt, the word "invent" is becoming more and more pernicious to Apple Fanboys, as the reality distortion field fades.


But it is quite clear that Apple has been associated with a number of mutational events in the history of personal computing technology: the work on the Mac which made coherent a modern GUI and got it into a system that individuals, rather than corporations, could aspire to own and operate

That's BS. The GUI computer was invented and usable by novices ten years before the first Apple GUI appeared.


the iPod and iTunes which completely changed the music industry

Again, BS. Apple did not originate any of those items. There were lots of MP3 players (including some with large HDs) prior to the Ipod. Furthermore, there was definitive prior art to the Ipod's enclosure design.

In regards to Itunes, there were already desktop MP3 players that could download music, and there were repositories for such players, such as Napster.


the iPhone which completely changed the smart phone market

Again, Apple didn't invent the touch phone and there is definitive prior art to the Iphone's enclosure design.


and the iPad which completely changed the tablet market and as a consequence is transforming the PC market.

Once more, Apple did not invent the finger touch tablet, and there is definitive prior art to the Ipad's enclosure design.


It is also clear that when Apple is functioning well and at it's best, which it didn't for quite long periods in it's history, Apple can be the source of significant mutational events. Maybe it will never do that again, but even so it's track record, by the standards of it's peers, is pretty good.

Apple is very good at selling products. Apple is not good at inventing nor actually originating.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by tupp
by JAlexoid on Wed 7th Aug 2013 16:12 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by tupp"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Rather than using words like 'invention', a word that invites pedantry and the obsessive search for the proof or disproof of any claim of innovation

You are aware that innovation is not invention, aren't you? There is a very clear legal distinction. One is application and the other one is creation. Apple is great at innovation, there is no question here.

But there are a lot of areas in technology that the debates over who was first are no less heated.
You might want to stick your head into some other areas of technology and see for yourself.

Reply Parent Score: 3