TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Feb 99 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 15 (1999)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Macworld '99 Trip Report

by Marshall Clow

Guess what? It didn't rain!

This January, 68,000 Macintosh fanatics, fans, developers, retailers, friends and others descended upon San Francisco's Moscone center for the annual Macworld Expo. Compared to the last few Macworlds that I have attended (New York 1998, Boston 1997, and San Francisco 1997) this was an "upbeat" Macworld. There were no sideways looks between the exhibitors, no quiet conversations about Apple's possible demise. It clear that their were a lot of exhibitors who had never been seen at a Macworld, even before and show management announced that both attendance and the number of exhibitors had increased from last January's show.

Apple announced new desktop hardware. The new G3s are faster, and can hold more memory than before. They are styled differently, too. [From now on, I'll call the new Macintoshes the "blue Macs".] The blue Macs are visually striking, and are very easy to take apart. However, like the iMac, the blue Macs have different I/O ports than previous Macs. They still have an ADB port (although you should expect that to go away fairly soon). There are IEEE-1394 (FireWire) and USB ports on the motherboard. There are no serial ports, and there is no SCSI port. You can add a third party SCSI card to a Blue Mac, and, in fact, the Apple Store has one as a "build-to-order" option. If you do order a SCSI card (and I'm guessing most developers will) be sure to make sure you can boot from it.

To match the blue Macs, Apple introduced new monitors, styled to match the blue Macs. There is a new 20" monitor, a 17" monitor, and the flat screen. A small nit: It appears that the 20" monitor requires a blue Mac, because all the controls for the monitor are USB-based, and Apple has stated that these monitors require a computer with USB on the motherboard.

It was also announced that iMacs would now be available in different colors. There was a lot of speculation as to whether Apple's choice of colors came from LifeSavers or Jello. In any case, the new iMacs are faster (266 vs. 233 MHz) and cheaper ($1199 vs. $1299) than the old iMacs. Apple had a beautiful display in their booth, with all the different color iMacs in a row, on a table that was lit from below. In my opinion, this was a great move by Apple. If computers are now commodity items (as I keep reading), then they should be distinguishable by style as well as features. All over the show floor, people were talking about what color iMac they were going to get.

SGI was showing (in a room off the show floor) their new flat panel display. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful computer screen that I have ever seen. It is about 18" diagonally, and has a resolution of 1900 x 1024 pixels. The picture is sharp, colorful, and there is no flicker at all. The screen weighs only 8 pounds (the stand it comes with weighs another 8 pounds). The screen comes with a video card with 32 MB of RAM. What's the bad news? The screen and card together cost $2895. Maybe if I don't eat for a year or so...

USB hardware was everywhere. See the section "USB hardware" for a laundry list.

Connectix shipped "Virtual Game Station", an emulator for the Sony PlayStation. This was the most talked-about piece of software at the show. One of the really cool parts of this product (in my opinion) is that they used Apple's Input Sprockets for their game controller support. That means that any joystick/game controller/whatever that is Input Sprocket-aware can be used with VGS (those of you writing drivers, take note!)

Apple announced Mac OS X server. This will ship in February and cost about $1000. Apple announced after the show that Select partners would be able to purchase the server at a reduced cost (cost to be determined).

Apple announced "NetBoot", a facility for booting Macintoshes over the network. This feature, which school lab administrators have been wishing for since 1986, will allow them to ensure that every system in the lab has the same configuration. Unfortunately, this feature will only work with the iMacs and the blue Macs.

There were four different pavilions for small or first-time exhibitors. The "Net Innovators" pavilion was for exhibitors showing network tools, while the "Web Objects" pavilion showcased products built with WebObjects. "Sci-Tech" pavilion was the place to be for people seeking scientific software and of course Developer Central was filled with people showing developer tools. Apple also had a large area devoted to game manufacturers, and held game-playing contests during the show.

USB Hardware

Clearly USB was a central theme at the show. I was amazed at the number of companies that were building/developing/showing USB hardware at the conference. Apple has been working hard to evangelize hardware manufacturers to support USB (of course, the success of the iMac helped, too!) I counted over 30 companies with USB products (and I'm sure I missed some).

I saw mice (at least 6), "scrolling mice" (these have wheels on the side to help you scroll), trackballs, keyboards, keypads and graphics tablets. I also saw lots of game controllers, and joysticks. There were USB devices to read SmartMedia cards and Compact Flash cards (both used in digital cameras). There were several USB cameras, both the single-shot kind, as well as the "frame every few seconds" kind. There were USB hubs everywhere (I counted at least nine different manufactures with hubs).

There were floppy disk drives, Zip/Zip250 drives, and iMation drives. A company called CastleWood was showing a drive called the ORB. The drive holds 2.2 GB, and the cartridges will retail at about $30. They were not shipping the drive at the show, so I can't tell you much more about the drive, but they claim that they will have EIDE and SCSI models as well as USB.

Epson and HP were showing printers connected via USB, albeit through a USB -> serial or USB -> parallel adapter. Brother showed a laser printer that connected directly via USB. Epson, Alps, Afga and Avision showed USB scanners. There were USB-connected hard disks, CD drives, and even a CD-R writer.

Adapters were everywhere. USB -> serial, USB -> parallel, and USB -> SCSI seemed to be the most popular, but there were also USB -> PCMCI and USB -> Ethernet adapters. I saw at least two USB smartcard readers. PCI cards for adding USB to your current Mac were also common. I counted 5 different companies showing them.

At this point the iMac (and the blue Macs) are better connected than my current Mac!

As a developer, I am greatly encouraged by this flood of new hardware. I have a couple of ideas for products that use some of this hardware. I'm confident that if you think about it, you will come up with some cool product ideas too.

Many attendees were surprised that there were no PowerBook announcements from Apple. All the attention was on the blue Macs and the iMacs. Guess that leaves something for next quarter.

Besides the wave of USB hardware, the best thing about the show was the atmosphere. People were happy again about being in the Macintosh business. Customers at the show were buying both hardware and software, and that bodes well for the future of Macintosh developers.

I hope too see you all in Boston, when Macworld happens again (east coast style).


Marshall Clow is a programmer. He has worked for Palomar Software, Hewlett-Packard, and Aladdin Systems. Among other things, he has written PICT Detective, Aladdin's Resource Compression Toolkit, and way too many resource-processing tools. He currently works for Adobe Systems, where his title is "Bad Influence". When he's not coding, he can be found mountain biking with his kids or checking out microbreweries. He can be reached at mclow@mailhost2.csusm.edu.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Little Snitch 3.5.3 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Cocktail 8.4 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
PDFKey Pro 4.3 - Edit and print password...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Kodi 15.0.beta1 - Powerful media center...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.4.12 - Catalog your d...
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... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.3.0.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
Lyn 1.5.11 - Lightweight image browser a...
Lyn is a lightweight and fast image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it... Read more
NeoOffice 2014.11 - Mac-tailored, OpenOf...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
LaunchBar 6.4 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Remotix 3.1.4 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more

Crossy Road Devs Hipster Whale are Bring...
Hipster Whale, the minds behind the rather popular (and rather great) Crossy Road, have teamed-up with Bandai Namco to create PAC-MAN 256: an absolutely bonkers looking maze runner chaser thing. | Read more »
Meet the New Spotify Music
Spotify Music  has a lot going on. They're introducing 3 new modes to serve all your musical needs, with the "Now" start page  gives you curated playlists based on your particular tastes. As you listen the app will learn more about your tastes and... | Read more »
What the Apple Watch Gets Right, and Wha...
| Read more »
Celebrate PAC-MAN's 35th Birthday W...
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America is celebrating PAC-MAN's 35th anniversary by releasing updates for PAC-MAN and PAC-MAN Lite for iOS. [Read more] | Read more »
Strike Wing Episode 2 has Landed on the...
Strike Wing: Raptor Rising is an exciting space combat simulator by Crescent Moon Games, which was recently updated to continue the story with Episode 2. [Read more] | Read more »
Kiqplan Expands its Interactive Coaching...
The makers of Fitbug have been hard at work on their Kiqplan lineup, and have added four new summer themed plans to help you get the most out of your workout. [Read more] | Read more »
Make a Photobook in Minutes with Pictyea...
What happens when you can't stop taking photos and have an urge to create a photobook? Pictyear saves the day. [Read more] | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: May 18-22, 2015
May Days at 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the... | Read more »
Biz Builder Delux (Games)
Biz Builder Delux 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Ah, there's nothing like the rhythmic bustle of a burgeoning business burg... especially when you're the one building it... | Read more »
Auroch Digital is Bringing Back Games Wo...
| Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

What Would the ideal Apple Productivity Platf...
For the past four years I’ve kept a foot in both the Mac and iPad camps respectively. my daily computing hours divided about 50/50 between the two devices with remarkable consistency. However, there’... Read more
New 13-inch 2.9GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1699.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from... Read more
12-inch MacBook stock status for Monday, May...
The new 12″ Retina MacBooks are still on backorder at The Apple Store with a 3-5 week waiting period. However, a few models are in stock today at Apple resellers. Stock is limited, so act now if you’... Read more
New 27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock with free...
Adorama has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock today for $1999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Adorama will include a free copy of Apple’s 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: New 27-inch 3.3GHz...
Best Buy has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary... Read more
OtterBox Maximizes Portability, Productivity...
From the kitchen recipe book to the boarsroom presentation, the OtterBox Agility Tablet System turns tablets into one of the most versatile pieces of handheld technology available. Available now, the... Read more
Launch of New Car App Gallery and Open Develo...
Automatic, a company on a mission to bring the power of the Internet into every car, has announced the launch of the Automatic App Gallery, an app store for nearly every car or truck on the road... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 13-inch 1.6GHz Mac...
Best Buy has the new 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849 on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 27-inch 3.5GHz 5K...
Best Buy has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2099.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary.... Read more
Sale! 16GB iPad mini 3 for $349, save $50
B&H Photo has the 16GB iPad mini 3 WiFi on sale for $349 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more

Jobs Board

Architect / Senior Software Engineer, *Apple...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
*Apple* Pay Support Readiness Project Manage...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
**Job Summary** The Apple Watch team is looking for a Hardware Design Validation Engineer. This person will be part of the Apple Watch hardware team with Read more
Sr. Payment Program Manager, *Apple* Pay -...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is an exciting environment and a…devices in a simple, private and secure way. The Apple Pay Team is looking for an experienced Senior Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.