| Cult of Mac

An introduction to every Apple Fellow in company history


Phil Schiller
Phil Schiller is far from the only Apple Fellow in company history.
Photo: Apple

On Tuesday, it was announced that Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, will transition into a new role as an Apple Fellow. This honorary position is one that Apple recognizes for a person’s outstanding contribution to the company in some capacity.

But while many newer Apple fans may not be familiar with the role, it’s one that’s been part of Apple dating back to the 1980s — even if this is the first time in more than 20 years that Apple has inducted someone into the club.

Here’s what you need to know about the other Apple Fellows:

General Magic tells story of Apple spinoff that almost changed the world


General Magic documentary tells story of the iPhone that never was!
The iPhone that never was!
Photo: Spellbound Productions

How do you follow a project like the Macintosh? A high-flying Apple spinoff called General Magic tried to answer that question in the early 1990s.

After revolutionizing the personal computer, a team of ambitious ex-Apple engineers set out to build a connected touchscreen mobile device that prefigured the iPhone by 25 years. Their startup, General Magic, became one of the hottest ventures in Silicon Valley — before it all came crashing down.

“That period is one of the most important in computing history,” Sarah Kerruish, co-director of new documentary General Magic, told Cult of Mac. “It’s when handhelds were first realized, and when we saw the first early stages of the internet. General Magic combines these profoundly important threads in technology.”

Don’t skip this crucial step if you want your app to be awesome [ProTip]


Bill Atkinson portrait MacPaint
Bill Atkinson, the creator of MacPaint, has crucial advice for coders.
Photo: Jim DeVona/Flickr CC

Pro_Tip_Cult_of_Mac SAN FRANCISCO — If you want to make a truly killer app, here’s a crucial part of the creative process you shouldn’t overlook: Give your “finished” software to someone, ask them to do something with it, and then shut the hell up.

Observe their interaction with the app, and you’ll learn what you’re doing right — and what you’re doing wrong.

That priceless piece of advice comes from Bill Atkinson, an Apple veteran who coded some of the greatest Mac software of all time, including HyperCard and MacPaint.

Apple veteran Bill Atkinson talks about the early days of Macintosh


The real MacPaint in action. Source: Wikipedia
Bill Atkinson was the creator of MacPaint, among other innovations.
Photo: Apple

I’m a sucker for hearing ex-Apple employees talk about the company’s early days. In particular, it’s fascinating to find out more about the development of innovations like MacPaint and the Mac graphical interface, as well as speculate over who was really responsible for the Macintosh’s creation.

On this week’s episode of the Triangulation podcast, tech broadcaster Leo Laporte interviews Bill Atkinson about his 1978 to 1990 stint at Apple.

Check it out below:

First Macintosh Praised By Its Creators In Rare Promo Video From 1983


I bet you haven't seen this clip before.
I bet you haven't seen this clip before.

A rare Apple promotional video for the original Macintosh has surfaced online today, courtesy of one of the machine’s creators, Andy Hertzfeld. The one-minute clip, which was produced in 1983 by Chiat-Day, features members of the Macintosh team — including Hertzfeld, Bill Atkinson, Burrell Smith, and Mike Murray — who praise their product for its affordability, reliability, and more.

Future iPhones Will Have Natural Language UIs, Says Bill Atkinson [Macworld 2011]



SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2011 — As one of the key architects of the original Macintosh, programming legend Bill Atkinson is in a good position to make sensible predictions about the future of tomorrow’s computer interfaces.

And he says the future of computers is smartphones with natural language interfaces. We won’t be tapping on our iPhone’s screens, we’ll be talking to them in natural language. And they’ll be talking back.

We’ll wear a tiny video-equipped earpiece that will see, hear and record everything we do. On the other end, in the cloud, will be a virtual personal assistant that will act as a cognitive prosthesis.