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Blue Apples
Volume Number:7
Issue Number:9
Column Tag:Letters

Blue Apples

By Kirk Chase, Editor

Apple/IBM Announcement

Apple and IBM Outline Technology Initiatives for the 1990s

SAN JOSE, California--July 3, 1991--Apple Computer, Inc. and IBM will work to create powerful new open system software platforms for the 1990s, according to a letter of intent signed today by both companies. The companies will develop and market new technologies which both Apple and IBM will integrate into existing and future products, as well as offer for use on other vendors’ computers.

The letter of intent covers four areas of general understanding:

1.) Joint venture for object-oriented software. Apple and IBM intend to create a new open system software platform that will be based on object-oriented technology. The new platform will offer major new user and system functionality, while greatly simplifying the process of application programming. It will span a wide range of computing platforms--from laptop computers to large servers--and is expected to run on major industry hardware platforms, including Intel’s x86, Motorola’s 680X0, and IBM’s RISC System/6000 POWER architecture. Apple and IBM intend to use object-oriented technology in future product offerings, as well as in current operating systems, assuring that applications written for current operating systems, including AIX, OS/2 and Macintosh, will run in these new environments.

In order to implement this plan, Apple and IBM will form a new system software company to be jointly owned and independently managed. The software will be offered for sale for both IBM and Apple computers. Additionally, it will be marketed widely by the new company for use on other vendors’ systems.

2.) Apple Macintosh computer integration into IBM’s enterprise systems. IBM and Apple plan to work together to further integrate Macintosh into the client/server enterprise environment in two ways. First, Apple and IBM will develop, market, and support networking and communications products that will further extend the ability of the Apple Macintosh computer to operate in the IBM enterprise environment. Second, IBM and Apple will develop and market an enhanced AIX (IBM’s industry-standard UNIX operating system) that combines the best of IBM’s open systems with Macintosh and its thousands of user-oriented productivity applications. The enhanced AIX will span the range from desktop workstations to servers, and will offer Macintosh and OSF/Motif user interfaces.

3.) Significant new markets for the IBM POWER RISC architecture. Apple intends to adopt future single-chip implementations of IBM’s RS/6000 POWER architecture--called POWER PC--in future Apple Macintosh personal computers. Both companies will use POWER PC microprocessors in workstations and file servers. Motorola, Inc. and IBM will use their expertise to design and manufacture a new family of world-class POWER PC chips. Motorola will serve as a source to IBM, Apple and other open systems vendors. Motorola intends to market the POWER PC microprocessors in configurations that will target a broad spectrum of systems.

4.) Common multimedia platforms for the industry. IBM and Apple plan to work together to create and license platform- independent software environments that will stimulate widespread industry development of this new technology. New multimedia technology resulting from this effort also will be made available for use on other vendors’ products.

Implementation of the letter of intent is contingent on the execution of definitive contracts. The companies intend to complete the contracts later this year and will release further details only at that time. Products resulting from these agreements are expected to reach the marketplace over the next two to three years.


Paul Bergevin



Barbara Krause

Apple Computer, Inc.


Ken Phillips

Motorola, Inc.


1991 Apple Computer Inc., Apple, and the Apple logo and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple Computer Inc. IBM, AIX and OS/2 are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. POWER and POWER PC are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. UNIX is a registered trademark of UNIX Laboratories. OSF/Motif is a trademark of Open Software Foundation.

Apple Press Releases

PR Express


Apple/IBM Reaction

Kirk Chase

Anaheim, CA

Interesting press release? After looking at some of the comments on bulletin boards, I find that there is a lot of animosity towards Microsoft, IBM, and even Apple.

Many perceive this as a move against Microsoft and Bill Gates. They feel Microsoft as the one keeping technology down. By having a near strangle hold on operating systems, they keep us in out-dated technology until they can find some kludge to extend the life of its operating system that is already on total life support. What about the quality of living?

And Microsoft has been the target for application complaints. Just now, Microsoft has been making their products more Mac-like, but it took Windows to move them in that direction. Not to mention that the price of a couple of their products could purchase a Mac makes average users choke (and the Mac was never inexpensive in my book).

I know, I know, some of you will say, “if you don’t like them, don’t use them.” Well, just because I use them, does not mean they do not have significant flaws. I would, and will, gladly use other products that are more realistic in price and user interface as they become available. With XTND technology now legitimate, I will soon be able to use the product of my choice, and change it to some other document structure that has become standard due to the masses rather than its merits.

Still, others feel that Apple is being disloyal by “sleeping with the enemy.” IBM is probably just looking for ways to save its PC market. That was what the Mac was made for-to kill those ugly PCs. Why should we help them? Well, it just happened that Apple has been having a few problems of its own, and IBM has a number of attractive resources to offer.

Others feel this signals the start of the end of the Macintosh. I feel that this is not the case. Apple has done a lot (more than anyone I would say) in making the Mac upward compatible. There is a lot of investment in the Mac, and the agreement looks to take that into account. I believe that the Mac will be around for at least another decade.

Let’s look at a few aspects of the announcement. First, let’s examine the object oriented operating system. This Pink operating system will be portable to many hardware platforms. An object oriented operating system (OO OS) would greatly aid in development and maintenance. It would allow a multitude of input devices such as pens, mice, and tablets to be used with a multitude of screens and printers.

Still, an OO OS will take a lot of time and money to develope. Pink has been in development for a long time now. Apple/IBM have the advantage of looking at the lessons of NeXT. But, after the long system 7 wait, I am not going to be jumping on any bandwagon until I see a little something more concrete--like a few fulfillments of the contracts that haven’t even been made up yet. Yet, I can’t help but feel Apple is giving away one of its golden eggs.

The second aspect of the press release deals with the integration of Macs with IBM mainframes. IBM has long dominated the mainframe market. And I am sure that it is no secret that Apple would love to sink its teeth into that market. After all, it is very hard to have mass appeal with high prices, and it is very hard to be on the leading edge of technology without large revenues, and it is very hard to be a leader if you do not offer the leading edge. In the mainframe market, you can extract blood from your clients because where else are they going to go? Translation for point number two: IBM is giving away one of its golden eggs.

The third aspect is the RISC chips. IBM has a distinct advantage in that area over Apple. Apple knows that in the CPU game, power and speed are critical for winning. RISC looks like the way to go if they want to put out a machine that is more than a small incremental step in the clock cycle. So IBM, along with Motorola,is providing this golden egg.

The fourth point of the press release has to do with multimedia. Two words I am getting tired of seeing, “multimedia” and “hyper”-anything (imagine what I feel like when I see “hyper-multimedia”). Multimedia has some great potential, but it has some severe limitations due to hardware and software constraints. Maybe someday will see, “America’s Funniest Home Multimedia Projects”, but not in the near future. Still, it does need to be worked on if it is ever going to give fruit. It is flashier than artificial intelligence (which I would rather have), and the current players have the money to spend on it. Apple is far ahead of anyone in the multimedia appliance area. This golden egg is from Apple.

So there you have it. An agreement of give and take. IBM is looking to save its PC market and get the right GUI. Apple is looking on trying to increase profits and chart its CPU course for the next decade.

What will become of it? Some say that it is doomed to failure. For one reason, Apple and IBM are two fairly disparate companies. Second, proprietary technology tends to kill things (remember Beta vs. VHS formats?); I know the Mac is this way, but that has been the reason for expensive computers. Thirdly, this is just an agreement. Many look at this as IBM’s operating system of the month. Apple has made many agreements that haven’t revolutionized the world as they thought they would (Apple announcement of TrueType just made Adobe release their type specs and come out with the Adobe Type Manager. Conclusion: we have more accessible Postscript printers and technology, but we still have Postscript.).

On the lighter side, what would you call the new Mac? (a rhetorical question) I have seen “MacBlue”, “IBMac”, “BMac”, “Janus” (after the two-faced god), “Big Red Computer”, and “AIM” (for Apple/IBM machine).

[Please note that this is strictly my editorial opinion. The usual disclaimers of “Not expressly the opinion of the owner of MacTutor” applies.-ed]


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