| Cult of Mac

25 Years of Mac: Whither Macworld Conference & Expo?



Image © 2009 Nik Fletcher

This post is really more about Macworld, the trade show and conference, than it is about the device that spawned it. But for 24 of Mac’s 25 years, the two have gone hand-in-hand.

While indications seem clear the Mac and Apple are both healthy and vital at 25, with years of relevance and innovation ahead despite whatever rough patches the economy may present in the near term, the fate of what has been for many years the Apple community’s most anticipated event is very much up in the air.

Of course the entire world is aware by now Apple decided to make 2009 its final appearance at the huge trade show held the first week or so of January at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The smart money immediately proclaimed Apple’s move to quit Macworld spelled doom for the event.

Rumors swirled during this year’s show that Apple itself might be moving next year to the larger, far more ambitious International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in Las Vegas right around the same time as Macworld.

Just this week, iLounge announced plans to fund a high-profile unified pavilion area for iPod and iPhone products at CES in 2010.

Blogger John Gruber penned Friday a misty paean to the City and the Expo, one of the smarter, more comprehensive assessments of the overall picture I’ve yet seen.

Gruber and I agree on a couple of points worth noting: as he wrote,

1) “There is nothing else like Macworld Expo, and if it fades away, there will be nothing to take its place.” With Apple gone, Macworld will be different and if it is to survive, it will have to be different in a way that keeps it vital and active for the diverse mix of large and small exhibitors that make up a healthy event; and

2) The great majority of exhibitors who make up Macworld, 90 percent of whose products are not available at the Apple Store, want the conference and expo to survive, but almost to a one they confirmed to me, as I walked the floor at this year’s conference (and to Gruber as well), – they will wait and see who else is going to stay on board.

This week a quiet campaign began, led by the community of Mac-o-philes who most definitely want to see Macworld survive and prosper. IDG, the event promoter, has agreed to give anyone who pre-registers now for next year’s event, January 4 – 8, 2010, a free Expo pass. Not buy one get one free, just register now and go for free.

IDG has also placed a big SUGGESTION BOX graphic on the front page of the website, a mailto: link the IDG PR representative I spoke with assures me the promoter will pay close attention to for feedback from attendees and exhibitors alike.

It may well be true that Apple no longer has a need for Macworld, that its growing chain of Retail Stores and increasing market awareness make it a bad business decision to spend millions of dollars to be the anchor tenant at the sprawling event.

For the hundreds of other businesses who’ve come to rely on Macworld as an opportunity to get their products in front of and tell their stories to thousands of people over four days in San Francisco, the stakes are very different.

25 Years of Mac: Classic Macs Still at Work



Story and photos by Natalie Guillén

SANTA FE, New Mexico — As Arch Sproul unpacked half a dozen Macintosh Classic IIs, all six of his employees hovered around in excitement.

It was fall of 1992, and most of the employees had never used a computer before.

Today, four of those original computers are still in use, working overtime seven days a week at the Virginia Trading Post arts and crafts store, nestled next to dozens of other shops downtown. They are used mainly as cash registers, scanning bar codes, and keeping tabs on inventory.

The machines are rare examples of aging Macs that are still in daily use. They are a testament to the utility and longevity of the Mac, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on Sunday.

25 Years of Mac: Reporter Recalls “The Day Steve Jobs Showed Me the First Mac”



Times they have changed: a quarter of a century ago, reporter Michael J. Miller was on the West Coast bureau of Popular Computing. (Now he blogs for PC mag.)

A few choice extracts about his trip down to Cupertino to see the first Mac:

“I met with Steve Jobs, who was then Apple Chairman and heading up the Mac project, along with key designers including Burrell Smith, the original hardware designer and software designers Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson.”

“Most of the time I was meeting with other members on the team, but I remember Jobs coming in —  he was very charismatic: intense, proud of the work and a bit prickly about any criticism. He and his folks were quick to put down the IBM PC and its clones for not pushing the envelope and settling for “mediocrity.”

“Jobs and the team were rightly proud of the new machine, which was very different from the IBM PC that then dominated the industry. Maybe it was the famous “Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field,” but even then I was entranced by the new machine and the possibilities it offered – particularly the graphical user interface.”

Miller’s trip down memory lane — complete with anecdotes about the Mac II, Apple’s first laser printer and the role of industrial design at Apple — is well worth a read.

Apple Announces Its Final Year at Macworld



Apple today announced that 2009 will be the last year the company exhibits at Macworld Expo.

Citing the declining efficacy of reaching its audience through participation in trade shows, the company issued a press release indicating Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo. Schiller’s will be Apple’s last keynote at the show, which held its debut event in 1985.

The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009.

With the increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website, the company is able to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in ways a trade show could never hope to.

Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.

A Look Back in Time at the Origins of Apple Computer



Just in time for getting a little bit of the backstory before the 25th Anniversary of Mac kicks into high gear, Computer Shopper has a great look back at the very early years of Apple Computers by Editor in Chief Emeritus Stan Veit. We’re talking early enough that Steve Jobs was willing to give away 10% of the company for $10,000, according to Veit.

The long article is well worth a read for Veit’s inside take on the two young, “long haired hippies and their friends” who eventually revolutionized the world. It’s not an especially flattering portrait of Jobs, though it’s had plenty of company on that score over the years. The article does contain some great early pics of Jobs and Woz and some of the earliest Apple gear.

Via Edible Apple

Portrait – Steve Jobs is Apple: UPDATED



Image © Charis Tsevis

UPDATE: With thanks to reader James of RetroMacCast, credit is due to the original creator of this and many other wonderful mosaix-technique portraits, Athens, Greece-based artist, Charis Tsevis. You can download and listen to a podcast interview with Tsevis here.

Flickr user mic.imac has a fascinating portrait up of Steve Jobs, comprised entirely of artfully arranged Apple products. The portrait echoes a theme that runs through the upcoming Welcome to Macintosh documentary my colleague Nicole Martinelli wrote about on Monday, which is that the people who work at Apple give themselves entirely to the work of designing and producing the products the company makes.

Of no one is that statement more true than Steve Jobs. As CoM founder Leander Kahney says in the documentary, “Apple is Steve Jobs.”

“Welcome to Macintosh” Doc Now on DVD



“Welcome to Macintosh” (subtitle: the documentary for the rest of us) features a mix of history and cult with interviews from ex-Apple employees, engineers and community members, shedding light on the company’s innovations, failures, cultural impact and what the future holds post co-founder Steve Jobs.

As we noted, it was announced out on DVD this fall, but the delay makes this a good bet for the Mac fanatic on your Christmas list. (Word to the wise: pre-order, since it won’t ship until mid-December).

On sale from the official site, the DVD, which costs about $20, offers three hours of extra content including extended interviews, a “making of” feature, trailers and photo journal.

The doc features a number of Macsperts including CoM’s Leander Kahney. In the trailer he speaks on design: “That’s what makes these products so beautiful, that level of comittment and dedication to the thing. To make it the best thing possible.”

Pretty things, we like.