Continuing our A-Z of Apple history…
U2 Apple has always had a soft spot for music (see also Unuson below). Its founders were brought up in Sixties California, raised on Beach Boys, Beatles and Bob Dylan. But the company got stuck on its reverence for these golden oldies, missing out on the charms of Abba, the Bee Gees and Spandau Ballet… until Steve Jobs did get a taste of the Irish with a dalliance with U2.
In 2004 U2 wanted to push its new LP How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and realised the hottest place for airplays was no longer the radio but on the iconic TV ads for Apple’s iPod. Bono visited Steve Jobs and suggested that the company break from its silhouettes of dancers to include the same of the artists themselves.
Previously the band had turned down offers as high as £23 million to appear on ads (thinking them too “naff”), but a deal with Apple was worth that in promotion alone.
When the band got cold feet Apple promised to release a special limited-edition U2 iPod. Bono was sceptical so the company suggested flying its design guru Jony Ive to Dublin to show them what it would look like.
“I love that guy. I drink his bathwater!” gasped Bono. The deal was sealed by Bono and Ive in a legendary Dublin pub crawl.
Bono was a big Steve Jobs fan, calling him the “hardware software Elvis”: Apple is “a bunch of creative minds, more creative than a lot of people in rock bands. The lead singer is Steve Jobs. These men helped design the most beautiful object in music culture since the electric guitar. That’s the iPod. The job of art is to chase ugliness away.”
After Jobs’ death Bono waxed lyrical again. Jobs was someone who was “only interested in doing truly great things”.
“In a world littered with dull objects, he brought the beauty of clean lines and clear thought. Jobs changed music, he changed film, he changed the personal computer and turned telephony on its head while he was at it.
Umax Undoubtedly the best named of the Mac cloners Umax was the only company other than Apple itself permitted to make and sell a computer that could run Mac OS 8 – although not for long. Its Macintosh clones were called Pulsar, Centauri, Apus and Aegis. Outside of Europe Umax branded its clones under the SuperMac name. That was sure to wind Apple and Steve Jobs up even more.
Unix Unix is an open-standard, multitasking operating system that can be found in multiple variations – most popularly as the basis of Linux.
Apple has claimed that the most widely used Unix-based operating system is Mac OS X, as it is based on NeXT’s OS, which was built on BSD Unix and the Mach (no relation) kernel – which was developed in large part by Avie Tevanian who later became Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering.
Unix geeks will admit only that OS X is “Unix like”. Apple did make its own version of true Unix, called A/UX, which first saw life in 1988 but was killed off after 1995 when Apple decided not to port it to its new PowerPC-based systems.
Unuson Unuson stands for “Unite Us in Song” and was the name of the company formed by Apple founder Steve Wozniak to put on giant music festivals. The first Unuson US Festival was held in San Bernadino County California September 3, 4 and 5, 1982. Bands playing to the 200,000 crowd included Tom Petty, The Police and Fleetwood Mac – then the most famous Mac in the world. Apple was there, too – showing off its gear at the US Festival Technology Exposition.
Woz apparently lost $12 million putting on the show, and lost the same again with the second US Festival the next May – this event featuring The Clash, Van Halen and David Bowie. The 1983 festival was a disaster, with two deaths and 145 people ending up in jail. Woz declared the concerts a great success: “The fans got their money’s worth. I know I got mine.”
USB The Universal Serial Bus standard (v1.0 speed 12Mbps) was created by a group of Apple enemies including Intel, IBM and Microsoft. As such it was pitted against Apple’s faster FireWire computer/peripheral connection (400Mbps). USB vs FireWire became one of the running arguments between Mac and PC fans. But it was Apple that first showed any real faith in USB, using it as the main connection standard on the startlingly original iMac in 1998 – much to the anger of some Apple fan boy Intel haters. USB 2.0 (480Mbps) was much closer in speed to FireWire, and FireWire 800 remains a niche connector. Apple features all three on many of its current Mac systems.
User group Before there was an Apple Store Mac fans had few places they could gather to show off their hilarious t-shirts and make snide jokes about Windows PCs. There were mega shows such as Macworld Expo over in the US and a few other annual events dotted across the globe, but nowhere permanent even in the busiest cities.
So the Apple fanboys and girls started their own clubs, called Apple or Mac User Groups. Remarkably Apple hasn’t closed them all down for copyright infringement, and even points out where these groups meet up.
If you wanted to find an Apple Genius in those days you had to attend one of the monthly user group meetings or their Christmas pub quiz.
As you might expect of a group made up of people who are rather too keen on one manufacturer’s products there’s a higher than normal proportion of beardy weirdies and social outcasts among the disciples. Apple always had a sheen of hipness and cool but you’d never have guessed it attending one of these gatherings.
That said, imagine walking in to a pub and finding yourself in the middle of a Windows User Group…
User interface The battle between Macintosh and Windows is mainly one of competing user interfaces. With the Lisa (1983) and Macintosh (1984) Apple pioneered the Graphical User Interface (GUI) while PCs were stuck with either dull old DOS or a grubby GUI until at least 1992’s just-about-acceptable Windows 3.1. The Windows UI has always been less friendly and elegant than the Mac, proving that most people are a bit crap, really.