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.”
The latest prize the Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle movie picked up was a Supporting Actress of the Year award for Kate Winslet at this weekend’s Critics’ Circle Film Awards in London. Winslet, who has already earned a Golden Globe for the role, stars in the movie as legendary PR guru Joanna Hoffman.
Steve Jobs picked up Golden Globes for “Best Screenplay” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role,” but lost out on the “Best Actor” and “Best Original Score” prizes at last night’s star-studded Hollywood event.
“I’m usually better at words,” said screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, claiming his award. “You can perform surgery on me. I’m so stunned by what’s happened.”
Kate Winslet has been earning rave reviews for her performance as Joanna Hoffman in the new Steve Jobs movie. Hoffman was one of the original members of the Macintosh (employee #5 to be exact), and was notorious at Apple as one of the few employees who boss Steve Jobs around.
In a recent interview, Hoffman revealed what it was like coming to Apple as an architect and working with Steve Jobs at the age of 25. She also dished on other doomed projects like the Lisa computer and the Apple 3, and took some questions from the audience at Maker School about Silicon Valley and startup culture.
Watch Joanna tell developers about how she met Steve and other juicy tidbits below:
On Friday, January 24, 2014, the Mac turns 30 years old. As we look back on three decades of Macintosh, there are some stories that have largely avoided the light of day for some time. One of these tales involves the production of the Macintosh Business Plan back in the early 1980s.
The tale was told by Mac design team member Joanna Hoffman to Bruce Damer, curator of the Digibarn Computer Museum. In 1981 Apple was beginning development on their new product lines, Lisa and Macintosh, and Hoffman was helping develop the business plan. She presented multiple drafts for Steve Jobs to review, but Jobs repeatedly kept sending her the plan back saying he didn’t like it.
After a few rounds of this Hoffman realized that it was not the contents of the business plan that Jobs objected to but rather the appearance of the document itself. What he was reviewing looked just like every other business plan, nothing special. Jobs wanted the pages of the Mac business plan to look like the screen of the computer they were creating – WYSIWYG graphics, fonts, and pages with menus and submenus for section headings. The problem with this request was that Apple did not yet make any computers or printers which could produce the document Jobs desired.
Walter Isaacson’s terrific Steve Jobs biography offers a magnificent insight into how Steve created Apple, and the work he did behind the scenes. However, it doesn’t talk all that much about NeXT — another computer company Steve founded during his spell away from Apple in the mid-eighties.
These fascinating clips from a series called Entrepreneurs do, however. They show Steve as many of us have never seen him before — discussing new ideas with his team, brainstorming on company retreats, and leading NeXT to create something awesome.
Check out more of the documentary after the break.