Apple engineer tried to buy BeOS from Palm for the iPhone

Jean-Louis Gassée:

When the Apple smartphone project started, the key decision was the choice of software engine. Should Apple try to make a ‘lite’ version of OS X (as it was then known)? Go in a completely new direction?

It appears that a new direction may have been tempting. At the time that Apple’s smartphone project began, an Apple employee and former Be engineer offered Palm Inc. $800K for a BeOS “code dump” - just the code, no support, no royalties. The engineer was highly respected for his skill in mating software to unfamiliar hardware; BeOS was a small, light operating system; draw your own conclusion… Palm, which had purchased Be a few years before that, turned him down.

Interesting historical footnote. This would be the second time that Apple tried to buy BeOS. I’ve been told that while Forstall (who wanted OS X) and Fadell (who wanted the iPod’s Pixo) were battling it out, a former Be engineer then working at Apple wanted to prove BeOS was a viable iPhone candidate, and thus tried to buy it. As history knows, Forstall won out, and only after the fact did the Apple engineer inform the higher-ups of what he tried to do. Apparently, this happens more often inside Apple’s culture.


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