TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Nov 89 Letters
Volume Number:5
Issue Number:11
Column Tag:Letters

Letters

By David E. Smith, Editor & Publisher, MacTutor

Apple Introduces Two New Macs

Apple Computer introduced the Macintosh Portable and the Mac IIci at another fancy roll out at Universal Studios last week. In much the same fashion as the Mac II introduction, Apple invited the press and important industry representatives to hear John Sculley pitch his new toys and Jean-Louis Gassée attempt to assemble the portable from scratch. Fortunately it went together perfectly and we all cheered when he turned on the power and up came “Ta Da!” on the screen. The usual visual effects were there; laser beams, clouds of smoke, Macintoshes rising majestically out of the stage like granite monuments of progress. Everyone was properly impressed. There was even a fan club of school children wearing Macintosh shirts to stand up and cheer. I went with a very pessimistic attitude, especially about the portable, but I came away from it very upbeat about both machines. I think Apple has done a good job with these two products, even if the hoopla at the Universal Studios is wearing kind of thin.

The Macintosh Portable

If you were expecting a laptop, the portable will be a disappointment. My friend Jim Fitzsimmons of Mac America took one look at the portable and promptly went out and bought one of the new Toshiba Dynabook laptops. He wanted a more powerful version of a Radio Shack 100 laptop. The portable Macintosh may not be a laptop, but neither is it a transportable either. It is typical of many of the Japanese PC portables in size and weight. The portable weighs 16 pounds with a 40 meg hard disk, floppy disk and the lead-acid battery. The retail price of the portable including hard disk is $6500. The developer price is about half that amount. The look of the machine is very similar to the high end Toshiba portables except that the Mac portable has a keypad/track ball option next to the keyboard, making it a bit wider than other PC portables.

Battery is Design Key

The key to understanding the portable is the design decision made by someone at Apple that the portable must be a fully functional Macintosh on battery power alone. Which raises the question of how many portable PC users actually use their computers on battery power alone? Since the running time of most portable computers using NiCad batteries is only one or two hours, does anyone really use their computers on batteries? If that is the number one design criteria, then you need something other than NiCad to get more time from the machine. Hence the decision to go with a lead-acid battery. The Mac portable runs a true 6 to 12 hours of continuous use without re-charging and can be re-charged overnight (3 hours actually). Because the discharge rate is slow and even, sophisticated power monitoring and shut-down procedures can be implemented, guaranteeing the user never loses data. The Mac has a nine volt battery backed-up CMOS RAM as well as a power monitor desk accessory with suitable alarms. And the battery can be replaced with the power on without losing anything. The trade-off is size and weight. But you get what may be the first battery-powered full-blown PC in the world where you can actually do something useful all day before re-charging.

Another trade-off of the battery power requirement is that the components must be low power CMOS. However, Motorola does not make any of the 68000 family in CMOS except the 68000. Hence, the processor, and much of the power of the machine is decided for you. The portable has a CMOS version of the 68000 because that is the only processor available. To keep the machine from being a total wimp, Apple upped the clock speed to 16 mHz making it the same clock speed if not the same processor as the Mac II and the SE/30. The portable runs about twice as fast as an SE, which would be expected by doubling the clock speed, but not as fast as an SE/30 or Mac IIcx. The battery decision also determines memory configuration. Low power means CMOS static RAM chips. But CMOS is a bulky process of placing N-channel and P-channel transistors in series to form inverter pairs and is only available in very low densities. Hence Apple is only delivering 1 meg portables which can be expanded to 2 megs with a plug-in memory card. However, some third party vendors are said to be bringing 4 meg CMOS RAM cards to market for the portable which would give it a limit of 5 megs. From the appearance of the portable’s motherboard, the chip density is only 256K by 1 bit per chip. Since the battery takes up some bulky space (4 inch height in the rear end), the necessary height of the case allows the addition of plug-in cards. Besides the memory board, you can plug in a 2400 baud modem card, upgraded ROMs, and a single processor direct slot, not compatible with any other processor direct slot in the Macintosh family (naturally). The back end of the portable includes the standard Macintosh connectors for Appletalk, SCSI hard disks and the ADB bus for the mouse. Since operation on batteries alone assumes you are not near an AC outlet and hence not near a desk, the portable has a track ball so you can use it on your lap. The logic of that decision in light of the fact we already concluded it was not a laptop, escapes me. Perhaps the motherboard had a fixed width that determined the case size, leaving room for something besides the keyboard, so the track ball was added. Actually, the track ball, being small in size, is much easier to use than other track balls for the Mac that I’ve tried. But I still prefer the mouse. I’m pretty sure the width of 15.25 inches and depth of 14.85 inches means it won’t fit exactly on an airline tv tray, the only place I can think of where you might use it without a table top handy.

Other Features

Unlike other portable PC’s, the Macintosh portable has a readable screen display. Each pixel is controlled by a single transistor, resulting in what is called an active matrix LCD display, as opposed to a passive display used by other systems. In effect, the display is a giant IC. There is no ghosting or cursor loss and the graphics response is “just as good as a Macintosh”. This is probably the biggest achievement for Apple in the portable design. It really does not sacrifice anything in the display to be portable. The display is bright, easy to read, clear, sharp and fast enough for all Mac graphics applications. The trade-off is that the yields on the display are probably low, which could affect the number of machines Apple can make, and undoubtedly expensive, which explains the high price. One potential complaint is that the screen is not backlit, because of the power drain it would cause. But it shouldn’t be needed as the screen is very bright and can be viewed at any angle clearly.

Besides the internal modem card option, an external video adapter option is available that allows monochrome images to be sent to either Apple monitors or RGB, NTSC, PAL or SECAM standard televisions, videocassette recorders and project devices. This would make the portable ideal for on-the-road presentations, seminars and instruction settings. This could be the highest demand market for the portable.

An Alternative Portable

Suppose you made a few changes in the design criteria. What might you get differently? Suppose you assume that no one really bothers to use computers on battery power alone so you don’t need lead-acid batteries. Now you can build a Grid type Macintosh portable. With AC power, you can use high density dynamic RAM chips and an 68030 processor. Instead of 32 individual static RAM chips, you can use simm modules. Instead of a specially designed low power 40 meg hard disk, you can use off-the-shelf 80 meg hard disks. If you assume a table top is always available, you don’t need a track ball. This would cut the width from 15 inches to 12 inches and the rear height from 4 inches to 2.5 inches. The motherboard depth could shrink from higher density chips so the depth could go from 14 inches to 11 inches, making it just slightly bigger than a piece of paper. Now you have a true laptop at around ten pounds, that has the power of a Mac IIcx or even a IIci if you bump up the clock speed. All those in favor of a smaller, more powerful, non-battery laptop that can run MPW and MacApp, raise your hands!

The Mac IIci

The Mac IIci is a 25 mHz version of the Mac IIcx. In every other respect, it is exactly like the Mac IIcx with a couple of notable exceptions. The IIci includes a video controller on board that will drive any of Apple’s monitors at a depth of 8 bits per pixel. The video RAM is taken from the system RAM. Apparently at pixel depths of 1, 2 or 4 bits, the on-board video is faster than going out over Nubus to an external video card, assuming you have at least 2 megs of memory. However, at 8 bits per pixel, the memory contention between the video processor and the 68030 makes the on-board video slower than going out to the Nubus. The video supports up to 256 colors or shades of gray on the Apple 13 inch color monitor (640 by 870 pixels).

In addition to the built-in video, the IIci has a slot for a RAM cache, although Apple will not announce a cache card until next year. The highest performance is achieved by using a Nubus video card with a cache card. Performance is said to be 45% higher than a Mac IIcx and higher still (up to 75%) using a cache card. The RAM in the IIci are 80 nanosecond chips as compared to 120 nanosecond chips in the Mac II. The retail price of the IIci is $7,000 including a 40 meg hard disk. The developer price is about half of that. In comparison to the IIcx, the price differential for a 50% performance improvement is only $800 and if you consider that includes a video card, the cost only $300, a small price for a lot of increased horsepower. If you are going to buy a Mac II, there is no point in getting anything other than this new IIci.

New ROMS

The most notable improvement in the Mac IIci has nothing to do with hardware. The Mac IIci is the first Macintosh to get new 32-bit clean ROMs! The memory manager is 32-bit clean and all the ROM code has been optimized for the 68030 processor. A lot of the system patches in the system file, including 32-bit quickdraw have been moved into ROM, increasing the ROM space from 256K to 512K in the Mac IIci. This baby is ready for system 7!

When Apple released the IIcx, the motherboard was completely re-worked to give a much more denser design than the Mac II. With the IIci, Apple has re-designed the motherboard with the addition of five new custom ICs. Once again, Apple has shown it’s willingness to invest in top quality pc board design. The Mac IIci motherboard is a work of art. There are 6 very large custom IC designs including the video controller and the memory controller, plus the Motorola 68030, and 68882. There are 8 smaller custom chips, including the SWIM chip (revised woz machine disk interface) and sound chip. There are only 32 other chips on the board including the 4 ROM chips and all the Nubus sockets, RAM sockets, ROM socket and cache socket and still the board looks very uncluttered. The Mac IIci is by far the most powerful and impressive machine Apple has ever offered and certainly should give any PC configuration a run for it’s money. Apple is stressing the total performance improvement of custom hardware design, new ROM coding, system software enhancements as well as the 25 mHz clock speed to promote the IIci as advanced as any of the high end PC designs. It is obviously aimed at the government and University research markets. It even includes a parity memory option, apparently needed to satisfy government purchase order guidelines that were designed to lock federal employees into IBM PC machines. With the advent of the superdrive that can read IBM formatted disks, federal employees can order Macintoshes directly now. In fact, rumor has it that the first two months of production for both the portable and the Mac IIci, 10,000 units each, has already been spoken for by Uncle Sam!

Apple’s Comments

So what is Apple saying about it’s product line now? At last John Sculley got off the presentation software kick he has pushed at the last two MacWorld Expos and returned to the theme that Apple builds computers for individuals that combine consistency, intuitiveness and ease of use for the way normal people work. This is the right message for Apple to be focused on. They have won the battle of convincing the world that Macintosh is easy to use, and graphically powerful. Now they should be pushing that message to milk it for all it’s worth, instead of backing off looking for the next desktop revolution. In it’s message to the press, Apple VP’s seemed to be returning the message back to Apple’s roots. Randy Battat, VP of product marketing stressed the consistency of the Macintosh interface across all it’s platforms. The software doesn’t change. The user interface doesn’t change. Only the machine gets faster and more responsive or more portable and flexible. This goes to the heart of the IBM mess where IBM is investing millions into developing OS/2 and the Presentation Manager while ComputerLand dealers sell MS/DOS 3.3 machines running Windows. Is it any wonder IBM has reported third quarter results will be unexpectedly down?

Brodie Keast, product marketing director, stressed that Apple pays attention to details because it designs for the individual, to put the individual in control, making computing tools transparent. This message strikes at the heart of the PC confusion of trying to configure and set up machines that require device drivers, screen drivers, choice of incompatible operating systems and windowing systems and make the whole mess work together with a variety of dissimilar software applications. Keast points out that for Macintosh, integration and detail results in a complete set of Apple and third-party tools that work well together. Consistency, compatibility and integrated networking were themes further stressed by Kirk Loevner, Don Casey and Mike Homer. The message that Apple is sending out is that now flexibility and choice can be added without sacrificing consistency and compatibility. This is the right message for Apple and we hope that Apple’s national advertising in 1990 will concentrate on these strengths of the Macintosh design.

Adobe - Apple - Microsoft Connection

This year’s Seybold Conference turned into a real shouting match as Apple and Microsoft proved they really do love each other after all and Adobe’s John Warnock and Steve Job’s tried to put the best foot forward at finding themselves the odd men out. Just a few months ago, Apple sold it’s 16% interest in Adobe, makers of the Postscript standard. Anyone who was at the Developer Conference and saw System 7 understood why Apple had sold out. Apple wants to be in control of it’s own destiny in regards to both it’s imaging and printing technology. By paying royalties to Adobe for every LaserWriter that goes out the door, Apple was taking a financial beating. And Steve Jobs was giving them an emotional beating by pushing Display Postscript on his Next machine. Clearly Apple had to make a choice. Either it had to go with Display Postscript and lose more control to Adobe, or it had to do something about Quickdraw. It chose the latter. The new Apple font technology, dubbed Royal, brings screen outline fonts to the Macintosh product line. Now Quickdraw can print text just as good as Postscript. But it still can’t rotate text or place text on an arbitrary path. Presumably Apple is hard at work on the next generation Quickdraw that will replace Postscript in functionality. The surprise move at Seybold was that Apple has licensed it’s Royal outline font technology to Microsoft for inclusion in OS/2 and IBM officials have announced that Royal is both technically sound and will be present in future versions of OS/2, as reported by MacWeek. In return, Microsoft is licensing it’s own Postscript clone to Apple, thus ending Apple’s dependence on Adobe. It also eliminates 25% of Adobe’s gross income and Adobe’s stock fell dramatically from $23 to $15 on the day of the anouncement.

What this means is that Apple, Microsoft and IBM have all agreed on an outline font technology that does not belong to Adobe. This leaves the Next machine out in the cold. It makes Macintosh and IBM PC’s even more compatible in the area of typesetting and layout, which strengthens both companies. It could also lead to a graphics standard as well if Apple improves Quickdraw and eventually licenses that as well as it’s font technology in the future. We don’t expect that to happen, but it is clear that Apple and Microsoft are the big winners and Adobe and Next the big losers in this round of corporate hardball. Expect Apple to further drive the nail in the coffin with a future line of cheap, Quickdraw laser printers, perhaps even a portable one for the Mac portable? Apple must continue to support Postscript of course, because Quickdraw is not presently an alternative and desktop design and typesetting has become Apple’s main market advantage. But the writing is on the wall and Apple’s direction is clear. There will be an improved Quickdraw to go with the outline font technology in future Macintosh system software releases that will eliminate the need for the slower Postscript interpreter.

Calculator Miracles

Calculator Construction Set

Dubl-Click Software, Inc.

Calculator Construction Set (CCS) has been dubbed “Nerd Heaven”. If that is so, then CCS is truly a miracle. Normally I do not give much thought to my calculator under the Apple menu. I have two: the standard wimp calculator and a base conversion calculator. I found myself never using them and always using my powerful pocket calculator.

I always hated the extra slot taken by the DA and lack of any real power. So it was no surprise as I tore open the packaging, willing to bypass the virus examination of the disk as I inserted my salvation into the drive. I showed enough restraint to open the manual for a couple of seconds.

It turned out, I didn’t need the manual very much. In another couple of seconds, I had emulated my favorite calculator; a couple more seconds, I had modified it with my favorite features and had removed the offending calculators with my dream one.

CCS is really one nice product. It has many displays, financial and statistical functions, programmability, and many more options. One special feature is the scripts you can write. They emulate HP 41CX’s syntax, so you have thousands of solutions open to you. About the only thing I could wish for would be that, once I have created my custom, dream calculator, I could save a hardware version of it so that I could get rid of my wimp pocket calculator.

Save Face

Lee D. Rimar

Absoft Technical Support

I’d like to correct some outdated information given in the September ’89 “Fortran World” article (“FaceIt Saves Fortran” by Mark McBride, page 92).

The article claims Absoft is “reportedly” working on a Fortran compiler for MPW. In fact, we released MacFortran for MPW last year; version 1.1 is currently shipping.

More importantly, our technical support phone number was given incorrectly as (904) 423-7587. Users needing the dynamic array subroutine mentioned in the article should call us at (313) 853-0095.

Our technical support hours are 9 AM to 3 PM (Eastern time) Monday through Friday. We also have an electronic BBS at (313) 853-0000 (1200 baud, 8n1) on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2020 20.2 - Build w...
Dreamweaver CC 2020 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $20.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Dreamweaver customer). Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2020 allows you to... Read more
Adobe Acrobat DC 20.009.20074 - Powerful...
Acrobat DC is available only as a part of Adobe Creative Cloud, and can only be installed and/or updated through Adobe's Creative Cloud app. Adobe Acrobat DC with Adobe Document Cloud services is... Read more
beaTunes 5.2.10 - Organize your music co...
beaTunes is a full-featured music player and organizational tool for music collections. How well organized is your music library? Are your artists always spelled the same way? Any R.E.M. vs REM?... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 8.1.5 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Meteorologist 3.4.1 - Popular weather ap...
Meteorologist is a simple interface to weather provided by weather.com. It provides the ability to show the weather in the main menu bar, displaying more detail in a pop-up menu, whose contents are... Read more
NeoFinder 7.6 - Catalog your external me...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs and manages all your data, so you stay in control of your data... Read more
GarageSale 8.1.1 - Create outstanding eB...
GarageSale is a slick, full-featured client application for the eBay online auction system. Create and manage your auctions with ease. With GarageSale, you can create, edit, track, and manage... Read more
Firetask Pro 4.2.2 - Innovative task man...
Firetask Pro uniquely combines the advantages of classical priority-and-due-date-based task management with GTD. Stay focused and on top of your commitments - Firetask Pro's "Today" view shows all... Read more
Bookends 13.4.3 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
LibreOffice 6.4.5.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Distract Yourself With These Great Mobil...
There’s a lot going on right now, and I don’t really feel like trying to write some kind of pithy intro for it. All I’ll say is lots of people have been coming together and helping each other in small ways, and I’m choosing to focus on that as I... | Read more »
Pokemon Go's July Community Day wil...
Pokemon Go developers have announced the details concerning the upcoming Gastly Community Day. This particular event was selected by the players of the game after the Gas Pokemon came in second place after a poll that decided which Pokemon would... | Read more »
Clash Royale: The Road to Legendary Aren...
Supercell recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and their best title, Clash Royale, is as good as it's ever been. Even for lapsed players, returning to the game is as easy as can be. If you want to join us in picking the game back up, we've put... | Read more »
Detective Di is a point-and-click murder...
Detective Di is a point-and-click murder mystery set in Tang Dynasty-era China. You'll take on the role of China's best-known investigator, Di Renjie, as he solves a series of grisly murders that will ultimately lead him on a collision course with... | Read more »
Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia is se...
Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia, one of Square Enix's many popular mobile RPGs, has announced a plethora of in-game events that are set to take place over the summer. This will include several rewards, Free Multi Draws and more. [Read more] | Read more »
Sphaze is a neat-looking puzzler where y...
Sphaze is a neat-looking puzzler where you'll work to guide robots through increasingly elaborate mazes. It's set in a visually distinct world that's equal parts fantasy and sci-fi, and it's finally launched today for iOS and Android devices. [... | Read more »
Apple Arcade is in trouble
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Apple is disappointed in the performance of Apple Arcade and will be shifting their approach to the service by focusing on games that can retain subscribers and canceling other upcoming releases that don't fit... | Read more »
Pixel Petz, an inventive platform for de...
Pixel Petz has built up a sizeable player base thanks to its layered, easy-to-understand creative tools and friendly social experience. It revolves around designing, trading, and playing with a unique collection of pixel art pets, and it's out now... | Read more »
The King of Fighters Allstar's late...
The King of Fighters ALLSTAR, Netmarble's popular action RPG, has once again been updated with a plethora of new content. This includes battle cards, events and 21 new fighters, which increases the already sizeable roster even more. [Read more] | Read more »
Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, the mobile s...
Square Enix latest mobile spin-off Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe is available now globally for both iOS and Android. It initially launched in Japan back in 2018 where it's proven to be incredibly popular, so now folks in the West can finally see what... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

$200 13″ MacBook Pro discounts are back at Am...
Amazon has 2020 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pros on sale again today for $150-$200 off Apple’s MSRP. Shipping is free. Be sure to purchase the MacBook Pro from Amazon, rather than a third-party seller, and... Read more
Deal Alert! Apple AirPods with Wireless Charg...
Sams Club has Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case on sale on their online store for only $149.98 from July 6, 2020 to July 9, 2020. Their price is $50 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s the lowest... Read more
Xfinity Mobile promo: Apple iPhone XS models...
Take $300 off the purchase of any Apple iPhone XS model at Xfinity Mobile while supplies last. Service plan required: – 64GB iPhone XS: $599.99 save $300 – 256GB iPhone XS: $749.99 save $300 – 512GB... Read more
New July 2020 promo at US Cellular: Switch an...
US Cellular has introduced a new July 2020 deal offering free 64GB Apple iPhone 11 smartphones to customers opening a new line of service. No trade-in required, and discounts are applied via monthly... Read more
Apple offers up to $400 Education discount on...
Apple has launched their Back to School promotion for 2020. They will include one free pair Apple AirPods (with charging case) with the purchase of a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, or iMac Pro (Mac... Read more
July 4th Sale: Woot offers wide range of Macs...
Amazon-owned Woot is blowing out a wide range of Apple Macs and iPads for July 4th staring at $279 and ranging up to just over $1000. Models vary from older iPads and 11″ MacBook Airs to some newer... Read more
Apple Pro Display XDR with Nano-Texture Glass...
Abt Electronics has Apple’s new 32″ Pro Display XDR model with the nano-texture glass in stock and on sale today for up to $144 off MSRP. Shipping is free: – Pro Display XDR (nano-texture glass): $... Read more
New 2020 Mac mini on sale for up to $100 off...
Amazon has Apple’s new 2020 Mac minis on sale today for $40-$100 off MSRP with prices starting at $759. Shipping is free: – 2020 4-Core Mac mini: $759 $40 off MSRP – 2020 6-Core Mac mini: $998.99 $... Read more
July 4th Sale: $100 off every 2020 13″ MacBoo...
Apple resellers have new 2020 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off Apple’s MSRP as part of their July 4th sales. Starting at $899, these are the cheapest new 2020 MacBooks for sale anywhere: (1) B... Read more
This hidden deal on Apple’s site can save you...
Are you a local, state, or federal government employee? If so, Apple offers special government pricing on their products, including AirPods, for you as well as immediate family members. Here’s how... Read more

Jobs Board

Operating Room Assistant, *Apple* Hill Surg...
Operating Room Assistant, Apple Hill Surgical Center - Full Time, Day Shift, Monday - Saturday availability required Tracking Code 62363 Job Description Operating Read more
Perioperative RN - ( *Apple* Hill Surgical C...
Perioperative RN - ( Apple Hill Surgical Center) Tracking Code 60593 Job Description Monday - Friday - Full Time Days Possible Saturdays General Summary: Under the Read more
Product Manager, *Apple* Commercial Sales -...
Product Manager, Apple Commercial Sales Austin, TX, US Requisition Number:77652 As an Apple Product Manager for the Commercial Sales team at Insight, you Read more
*Apple* Mac Product Engineer - Barclays (Uni...
Apple Mac EngineerWhippany, NJ Support the development and delivery of solutions, products, and capabilities into the Barclays environment working across technical Read more
Blue *Apple* Cafe Student Worker - Pennsylv...
…enhance your work experience. Student positions are available at the Blue Apple Cafe. Employee meal discount during working hours. Duties include food preparation, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.