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Old May 11, 2002, 12:41 PM   #1
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Macs, PPC, NeXT... History

O'Reilly posted part 1, and part 2 of an article entitled "Steve Jobs and the History of Cocoa"... which gives a brief overview of Cocoa/Mac OS X's origins. An interesting read, and touches on Star Trek, Apple's attempt at Mac OS on Intel.

Haxor.dk published an interesting overview of the PowerPC processor line... from the 601 to the 8500 designs.
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Old May 12, 2002, 10:37 PM   #2
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Question Star Trek & speed

These O'Reilly articles are very informative. I thought it was especially interesting that one of the reasons "Star Trek" was not released was because it was FASTER than on PowerPC. Makes me wonder about the relative speed of an OS X ported to an x86.
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Old May 12, 2002, 11:31 PM   #3
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Remember that most of the early MacOS for PowerPC was running as emulated 680x0 code. I suppose the 486 version could be also running emulated 680c0 code, but somehow it would seem that there would be a need for more native code on the 486. Intresting to ponder.

NEXTSTEP, the earlier version of OS X, ran about the same speed on a 33MHz 68040 as it did on a 66MHz 486, for what it's worth.


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Old May 13, 2002, 12:28 PM   #4
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hmm. . .

OK,

So I interpret two things here:

1) the "Megahertz myth" has been around for a while.

2) there is no good (technical) reason why OS X is PPC exclusive.


What are the implications (or have I missed something?)
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Old May 13, 2002, 04:25 PM   #5
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Re: hmm. . .

Quote:
Originally posted by Phaedrus
OK,

So I interpret two things here:

1) the "Megahertz myth" has been around for a while.

2) there is no good (technical) reason why OS X is PPC exclusive.


What are the implications (or have I missed something?)
Well, the 68040's got more done percycle than a 486. I have an Amiga 1200 w/ a 68060 @ 50MHz which is about the speed of a Pentium 100.

OpenStep / NEXTSTEP on which OS X is based was very portable. It was ported from the original 68030/040 version to versions for SPARC, HP-RISC and x86. "Fat" binaries would include enough data that the same binary file could run on all platforms (size of the binary was the hit--they were big).

Reasons OS X should not and will not be ported:

1) Apple is a hardware company.

2) Drivers and varying-platform "gotchas." When NeXT had only to deal with their own (incredibly well designed) hardware things ware ideal. When they ported to other hardware, all of a sudden there were hundreds of devices out there that folks wanted drivers for. Drivers were slow in coming and of varying stability from one device to the next. Persumably due to the nature of this or that architecture, certain systems were less stable than others. For instance, the HP-RISC port of NEXTSTEP was never as stable as the original NeXT version of x86 version. It's just a sticky game to get into and I'm pleased that we aren't going down that road w/ OS X.


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Old May 13, 2002, 09:31 PM   #6
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Perhaps NeXT made a mistake when it decided to drop its hardware? According to the historical info you guys have so kindly pointed us to, NeXT's business customers loved the software, buy hated the hardware, which prompted NeXT to drop its hardware and port NEXTSTEP. But it did not thrive as a software company. Is the Apple strategy that blakespot describes a result of lessons learned at NeXT?

I suppose, in a sense, OS X has already been ported--in the form of FreeDarwin. I wonder what will happen if someone comes along and puts a nice, clean, GUI on top of that?
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Old May 13, 2002, 09:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Phaedrus
Perhaps NeXT made a mistake when it decided to drop its hardware? According to the historical info you guys have so kindly pointed us to, NeXT's business customers loved the software, buy hated the hardware, which prompted NeXT to drop its hardware and port NEXTSTEP. But it did not thrive as a software company. Is the Apple strategy that blakespot describes a result of lessons learned at NeXT?
Well... I think NeXT had no choice but to drop the hardware.... they would have gone under otherwise...

the difference is Apple makes money on it's hardware.

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Old May 13, 2002, 09:51 PM   #8
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Yeah, it seems to me that that the NeXT hardware was sort of like a LISA for the 90's--aimed at the enterprise, but perhaps too daring, exotic, and expensive. So now I've read all of the NeXT/Apple history info. It is fascinating stuff; I feel like you guys (macrumors gods) are setting us up for some sort of revelation. Well, I've read the requisite scriptures, so, let's have it. What does it all add up to? Or is it just history for history's sake?
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Old May 13, 2002, 09:53 PM   #9
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FreeDarwin

Also, more should be said about FreeDarwin, since it is the instantiation of NEXTSTEP that IS portable. Or is FreeDarwin hopelessly obscure and irrelevant?
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Old May 13, 2002, 09:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Phaedrus
Yeah, it seems to me that that the NeXT hardware was sort of like a LISA for the 90's--aimed at the enterprise, but perhaps too daring, exotic, and expensive. So now I've read all of the NeXT/Apple history info. It is fascinating stuff; I feel like you guys (macrumors gods) are setting us up for some sort of revelation. Well, I've read the requisite scriptures, so, let's have it. What does it all add up to? Or is it just history for history's sake?


Sorry... no punchline... I think it's valuable to know the history of these sorts of things...

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Old May 13, 2002, 10:31 PM   #11
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I agree. It helps to place current events into context.
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Old May 14, 2002, 09:48 AM   #12
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NeXTStep speed

At one point in time, I remember coming across an article where they compared the speed of the "black" 68040/33 with an 80486/66 and the results weren't too flattering for the NeXT machine. I believe it was in an old issue of Byte magazine, but memory probably fails me.

I have a "black" NeXTStation 68040/25/Monochrome, and the performance seems pretty good for a machine of its age...actually, more sprightly than my old Centris 660av which had the same processor.
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Old May 15, 2002, 02:49 AM   #13
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I thought that this was an interesting snippet (from The Register):

"But Apple has a few aces up its sleeve. One is the rich history that it acquired with NeXT - although more accurately, you could argue that NeXT acquired Apple, and got paid for the privilege."
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Old May 15, 2002, 03:48 AM   #14
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Another interesting tid-bit (from The Register):

"They're getting there," one veteran NeXT developer told us recently. "Soon we'll have the whole OS back."
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Old May 15, 2002, 06:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Phaedrus
I thought that this was an interesting snippet (from The Register):

"But Apple has a few aces up its sleeve. One is the rich history that it acquired with NeXT - although more accurately, you could argue that NeXT acquired Apple, and got paid for the privilege."
I would honestly say that this is more apt a description of what actually is happening over at Apple. Let us be thankful.


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