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MacTurkeyFest 1988

52 words

1K on disk

November 1988

MacTurkeyFest 1988

BMUG Expo

Due to a logistical conflict, this exposition was moved from October to November and renamed from MacToberFest to MacTurkeyFest. The special surprise guest was Steve Jobs. David Morgenstern reported:

The usually tough BMUG crowd was on their knees in a fit of religious rapture at the visit of a Macintosh saint.

MacWorld Expo 1988 Boston

1,050 words

11K on disk

August 1988

MacWorld Expo 1988 Boston

Trade Show

Dates: August 11-13 1988
Locations: Bayside Exposition Center, World Trade Center
Exhibitors: 350

Keynotes

Quotes

“The weather was hot and the show was dull. There were lots of people in suits not buying anything. There was nothing new or revolutionary. The same could not be said about the food at expo parties, we had seafood every night!” — BMUG Members

Seminar Topics

Apple

Apple showed off its new Apple Scanner, with its bundled software package Ofoto. I remember ordering and using one of these not long after 1988, and Ofoto was indeed an an amazing step forward. The hardware was also well-designed, offering classic “Snow White” styling. If I recall correctly this was a greyscale model — color was yet to come.

One Apple product which was rumored to appear, but which did not, was a new Mac based on the 68030 chip. Steve Costa, a leader of BMUG, shot down rumors at the meeting immediately preceding the Expo to this effect, including those printed in a front-page article in InfoWorld.

Word Processing

This MacWorld marked the debut of Paragon’s Nisus, at least in alpha form. The word processor was viewed as a further development of their existing text editor QUED/M, with advanced features such as a drawing module, while still maintaining modest (1mb) RAM requirements and good performance (“almost as fast as WriteNow, double the features of MS-Word, yet half the size of FullWrite!”). Though nearly finished as long ago as January of this year, Paragon still wanted to incorporate a thesaurus and other features, so November was the now the target shipping date. “Perhaps,” write an excited visitor from Sweden, “this is THE word processor!”

Meanwhile WriteNow version 2 was demonstrated but not shipping.

Desktop Publishing

Multimedia

Was Macworld Boston 1988 the first year for Macintosh multimedia? That’s the impression you get reading the coverage of HyperAnimator, an animation system for HyperCard by Bright Star. The public television program Computer Chronicles chose to lead off their coverage of the Expo with a close-up of the software working its magic on a 1-bit digitized avatar of program host Stewart Cheifet. Contemporary articles, such a a mention in InfoWorld, explicitly linked the program to the goals set out in Sculley’s Knowledge Navigator concept video.

At its heart, this technology sought to map MacinTalk-generated speech to a set of pre-recorded face and mouth image, so that a person could seem to be ‘speaking’ arbitrary text without the need to provide full-motion video. In its own way, a testimony to the inventiveness of programs and programmers. before computers became powerful enough to handle more sophisticated forms of full-motion video.

Math Software

Mathematica was demonstrated publicly, together with a math typesetting program called Milo.

Spreadsheets & Databases

FoxBase 1.1

Graphics

Silicon Beach Software showed off Digital Darkroom, a greyscale photo editing app that had suffered long delays due to growing pains at the company.

Silicon Beach also showed SuperPaint 2.0, its competitor to the recently-unbundled MacPaint.

Speaking of original Apple-branded software, MacDraw II, the long-delayed revision to the first object-oriented drawing program, was finally shipping. But it faced new competitors: Canvas from Deneba and the oddly-named Draw It Again, Sam from Aba.

The next step beyond object-oriented drawing programs was clearly Postscript design, and both Adobe’s Illustrator as well as Aldus’ Freehand were on deck to begin a rivalry which would continue until the eventual purchase of Aldus by Adobe. Adobe’s new version, Illustrator ’88, boasted “new features [that] have enabled Illustrator 88 to gain ground against Freehand,” in the words of Macworld editor Jerry Borrell.

Dubl-Click, best known for their clip art collections, threw its hat into the graphics ring with Wet-Paint.

Moving from 2-D to 3-D, Silicon Beach also showed Super3D, a real-time color animation program for the Mac II.

Productivity

Aldus demonstrated Persuasion, a “Desktop Presentation Program” as the genre was then known.

Utilities

A utility package which made a big impression at the show was “Screen Gems.” This $80 disk was published by Microseeds, and included four programs:

Switch-A-Roo by Billy Steinberg, an FKEY for changing monitor settings.

ColorDesk by Paul Mercer, which which promised to “Replace the boring desktop pattern with a full-color picture of whatever you like.”

Dimmer, a screen saver for the Mac II.

Peripherals

One of the first PostScript clones made its debut in the form of the Jasmine DirectPrint and QUME CrystalPrint (two printers based upon the same Casio engine with a liquid-crystal shutter.) A RISC-based processor and 3MB of memory meant it outperformed the LaserWriter by three to four times, but it wasn’t shipping till October. Cost was about $4,000, and observers from BMUG noted that it was “good looking.”

The TrueVision NuVista — a card I remember using well — turned heads on the show floor with its 32-bit color, an exotic feature in 1988. “Does everything you could imagine,” raved BMUG members, “including setting resolution from software. 32-frame virtual screens, way ahead of everything else.” One thing I didn’t remember about it was it’s high price: $6,000.

Mass Micro — an name I had always associated with hard drives — was apparently also showing off true-color and video capture cards as well at this MacWorld.

Jasmine was on the show floor with their BackPack 40HD for the SE or Plus. Oddly, an accompanying 2400-baud modem plugged into the side. Have to try and dredge up a picture of this.

Believe it or not, a Mac-controlled embroidery machine, which could generate patterns from MacPaint files, garnered a lot of attention.

Networking

Farallon, a corporate spin-off of the Berkeley Macintosh User’s Group, showed off version 2.0 of Timbuktu. This screen-sharing software, which functioned as kind of a 1980s version of VNC, was described as an “innovative… AppleTalk-observe/participiate package.”

User Groups

BMUG introduced their PD-ROM, a CD-ROM full of public-domain software (what we might today call Shareware.) This represented all two hundred and eight floppies that BMUG had previously sold out of their office and through computer stores. At $100, BMUG was charging for the cost of duplication and distribution, not the free software on the disc itself — a testimony to the costs of disc production in the 1980s.

BMUG also had their Newsletters on offer, volumes so thick that visitors described them as “bibles…. the best book of MacWorld!”

SyQuest Drives

209 words

2K on disk

August 1988

SyQuest Drives

Removable Drive

The earliest mention I can find of the removable 44MB SyQuest drive is an August 1988 column from BMUG’s David Morgenstern in MicroTimes. Morgenstern usually wrote a summary of the latest news and gossip drawn from the weekly BMUG meetings, so it’s safe to say that SyQuest was a big topic of conversation during the summer of 1998:

One of the favorite new toys of the Mac power-users with power-bucks are the 44 meg “removable media” drives. These are hard-disk drives with the hard-disk in a removable plastic cartridge. They are the 10-wheel truck of Floppyville. All of the hardware manufacturers are coming out with some form of these drives. D.P.I, MassMicro and Peripheral Land have been leading the pack with big ad budgets.

Interesting is that David never mentions “SyQuest” brand name in his piece — apparently the large size of the removable storage (44MB) was a better descriptor than the OEM vendor of the actual mechanism.

MacWorld magazine first mentioned SyQuest drives in the context of a Backup article in November 1988. Given print magazines’ lead times — and the complexity of an article that reviewed 50 separate products — it’s safe to say this also reflects a Summer 1988 timeframe for the launch of SyQuest products.

System 6

774 words

8K on disk

April 1988

System 6

Wikipedia has a quite comprehensive article on System 6, including a matrix of hardware compatibility and a run-down of what each release brought. But from a more qualitative perspective, here are my notes on the versions:

Pre-Release System 6 – 1998

With the advent of larger hard disks, users began to hit the limits of the Desktop File. This invisible document, which stored icon positions and other metadata, had a size limit of 288K and its performance got worse the larger it grew. “It’s all one big glob the Resource Manager has to plow through,” as Raines Cohen put it [Morgenstern July 1988]. In beta versions of System 6, Apple experimented with including the Desktop Manager, a component of their AppleShare server package, as a way of re-structuring this information into separate files. But compatibility problems prevented 6 from shipping with the Desktop Manager. It would eventually see the light of day in System 7.

6.0.0 – April 1998

One of the big performance improvements of System 6 was “QuickerGraf,” a re-write of QuickDraw code by original author Andy Hertzfeld. QuickerGraf made screens redraw faster, even when managing 8-bit (256 hue) color. Hertzfeld originally made the software available separately, and System 6 marked the moment when it was integrated into an official release.

Some worried that the new features 6 brought were of use mainly to those using expensive color Mac II’s. David Morgenstern joked:

The new 6.0 System release addresses the needs of a auer iwth a Mac II with 5+ megs of memory, color monitor, and a 300+ meg hard-disk. Isn’t that what everyone is using?”

Due to the increased size of the System Folder, Apple now provided an Installer application which could create “minimal” system software installs for each supported machine (Plus, SE and II).

But the biggest issue with System 6.0.0 wasn’t its focus on high-end machines — it was its propensity to crash and bomb. 6.0.0, as the initial release, was quite buggy. BMUG documented incompatibilities with 4th Dimension, FullWrite, PixelPaint , Dollars and $ense, “and all Microsoft products.” MacUser warned of “higher than usual numbers of crashes and freeze-ups… This is the System Software Update that probably shouldn’t have been.” Ouch!

During the August 1988 Macworld Expo in Boston, people were talking about System 6.0.1A9 as the hot new version.

6.0.1 – September 1988

This emergency release fixed bugs in the Color Manager, Script Manager, and Sound Manager. Apple promised it would be out by August or earlier, but it slipped until September when it launched to support the Mac new IIx.

6.0.2

– This was the first version to see wide-scale release — many bugs were finally stomped out. Chances are, if you were running “System 6”, you were actually running 6.0.2. 6.0.2 was explicit, however, in not fixing one bug: the failure of styled text to display on QuickDraw-powered (non-PostScript) printers such as the ImageWriter LQ and the LaserWriter IISC.

6.0.3

Shipped alongside the new SE/30. MacWorld noted that it included a “revised (and improved) version of Apple File Exchange” to access DOS-formatted disks via the FDHD SuperDrive.

6.0.4

– Audio In perhaps?

6.0.5

6.0.6

6.0.7

– This was supposed to be the release of 6 that complemented System 7 — for older systems which lacked the hardware to run the newer OS, or markets such as Japan where localization would take a while. It was to include features which made working across the two Systems easier, such as support for TrueType fonts and the LaserWriter driver version 7. Unfortunately, bad bugs resulted in this release being pulled.

6.0.8

– This was the last version of System 6, serving the role of a complement to System 7. as described above.

Interestingly although System 6 was supposed to bring about a new era of version-number standardization — replacing the previous practice of separate version numbers for Finder and System files — some did not feel it went far enough. MacUser wrote:

Version numbering is still as screwy as always. The System version number jumped from 4.2 to 6.0, whereas the Finder went from 6.0 to 6.1. Most of the smaller files incremented their version numbers by 0.1 (the Control Panel cdev went from version 3.2 to version 3.3). However, the Font/DA Mover, the LaserWriter driver file, the Laser Prep, and some other files all jumped 0.2. This style of version numbering might be fine for internal use in a software company, but it’s ridiculous for releases to the general public. Every file in this package should have the same version number. More than ever, Apple needs a Version Number Czar to sort through the current chaos.