The first Macworld Conference & Expo to be held in Boston, Mass. since 1997 officially kicked on Tuesday with a feature presentation the Macintosh at 20. The presentation, hosted by New York Times columnists David Pogue, featured original Macintosh designers Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, Jerry Manock and Jef Raskin.
Pogue started the discussion lamenting the absence of Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the panel discussion. Pogue then pulled out a black turtleneck and pair of blue jeans that he placed on the one empty seat on the stage.
“Please welcome Steve Jobs’ spirit,” said Pogue to laughter and cheering from the audience.
The panel of ex-Apple employees were given to the opportunity to discuss the beginnings of the Macintosh project and the role they played in its design. Apple employee number 31, Jeff Raskin, wanted to set the record straight about who actually founded the Macintosh project — he said it wasn’t Steve Jobs.
Raskin said that he was the father of the Macintosh, a project he developed in the 1960s, before there was an Apple Computer. Raskin said that Jobs only became involved in the project “after he was thrown off the Lisa project because he was too meddlesome.”
Raskin went on the talk about the Macintosh and what he thought of where Steve Jobs has taken the computer over the years.
“Steve never understood user interfaces, but he understood boxes. He never got outside the box,” said Raskin. “The Mac has gone from insanely great to insanely gross.”
The other panel guests were much kinder to their old employer. While being honest in their comments, the trio remembered fondly some of the antics of Jobs during their work at Apple.
When asked by Pogue if Jobs was really the terror that we all hear about, Andy Hertzfeld replied, “Steve was a terror, but he was incredibly great.”
“Steve always wanted his designs to match those of Mercedes,” added Jerry Manock, who worked on the industrial design of the Macintosh.
Slides on the big screen that showed early HyperCard applications brought cheers and applause from the crowd and panel members. Bill Atkinson admitted that he missed with HyperCard, but only because he didn’t take into account the coming of the Internet.
When asked about Apple’s decision to not license the Mac OS and if that decision could have led Apple to a larger market share, Andy Hertzfeld commented that, “they would have had a chance, but it wouldn’t be Apple anymore. Who knows what would have happened.”
The panel did discuss Apple’s reluctance to license the new Fairplay DRM found in the iTunes Music songs and drew comparisons the licensing of the Mac OS. The panel concluded they didn’t want Apple to fall into the same trap as they did years ago when they led the market, only to be overtaken because their operating system wasn’t adopted.