Horns artikkel


On Xerox, Apple, and Progress
-----------------------------
by Bruce Horn 

  [Any number of people will try to tell you about the origins of
  the Macintosh, but Bruce Horn was one of the people who made it
  happen. From 1973 to 1981, Bruce was a student in the Learning
  Research Group at Xerox, where Smalltalk, an interactive, object-
  oriented programming language, was developed. While there, he
  worked on various projects including the NoteTaker, a portable
  Smalltalk machine, and wrote the initial Dorado Smalltalk
  microcode for Smalltalk-76. At the Central Institute for
  Industrial Research in Oslo, Norway, in 1980, he ported Smalltalk-
  78 to an 8086 machine, the Mycron-2000.

 At Apple (1981-1984), Bruce's contributions included the design
  and implementation of the Resource Manager, the Dialog Manager and
  the Finder (with implementation help from Steve Capps). He was
  also responsible for the type framework for documents,
  applications, and clipboard data, and a number of system-level
  design decisions. Since then, Bruce consulted on a variety of
  projects in the late 1980's at Apple and received a Ph.D. in
  Computer Science from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1993. He
  continues to work as a computer science consultant with Apple and
  other companies.]


**Where It All Began** -- For more than a decade now, I've
  listened to the debate about where the Macintosh user interface
  came from. Most people assume it came directly from Xerox, after
  Steve Jobs went to visit Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center).
  This "fact" is reported over and over, by people who don't know
  better (and also by people who should!). Unfortunately, it just
  isn't true - there are some similarities between the Apple
  interface and the various interfaces on Xerox systems, but the
  differences are substantial.

 Steve did see Smalltalk when he visited PARC. He saw the Smalltalk
  integrated programming environment, with the mouse selecting text,
  pop-up menus, windows, and so on. The Lisa group at Apple built a
  system based on their own ideas combined with what they could
  remember from the Smalltalk demo, and the Mac folks built yet
  another system. There is a significant difference between using
  the Mac and Smalltalk.

  Smalltalk has no Finder, and no need for one, really. Drag-and-
  drop file manipulation came from the Mac group, along with many
  other unique concepts: resources and dual-fork files for storing
  layout and international information apart from code; definition
  procedures; drag-and-drop system extension and configuration;
  types and creators for files; direct manipulation editing of
  document, disk, and application names; redundant typed data for
  the clipboard; multiple views of the file system; desk
  accessories; and control panels, among others. The Lisa group
  invented some fundamental concepts as well: pull down menus, the
  imaging and windowing models based on QuickDraw, the clipboard,
  and cleanly internationalizable software.

  Smalltalk had a three-button mouse and pop-up menus, in contrast
  to the Mac's menu bar and one-button mouse. Smalltalk didn't even
  have self-repairing windows - you had to click in them to get them
  to repaint, and programs couldn't draw into partially obscured
  windows. Bill Atkinson did not know this, so he invented regions
  as the basis of QuickDraw and the Window Manager so that he could
  quickly draw in covered windows and repaint portions of windows
  brought to the front. One Macintosh feature identical to a
  Smalltalk feature is selection-based modeless text editing with
  cut and paste, which was created by Larry Tesler for his Gypsy
  editor at PARC.

  As you may be gathering, the difference between the Xerox system
  architectures and Macintosh architecture is huge; much bigger than
  the difference between the Mac and Windows. It's not surprising,
  since Microsoft saw quite a bit of the Macintosh design (API's,
  sample code, etc.) during the Mac's development from 1981 to 1984;
  the intention was to help them write applications for the Mac, and
  it also gave their system designers a template from which to
  design Windows. In contrast, the Mac and Lisa designers had to
  invent their own architectures. Of course, there were some ex-
  Xerox people in the Lisa and Mac groups, but the design point for
  these machines was so different that we didn't leverage our
  knowledge of the Xerox systems as much as some people think.

 The hardware itself was an amazing step forward as well. It
  offered an all-in-one design, four-voice sound, small footprint,
  clock, auto-eject floppies, serial ports, and so on. The small,
  portable, appealing case was a serious departure from the ugly-
  box-on-an-ugly-box PC world, thanks to Jerry Manock and his crew.
  Even the packaging showed amazing creativity and passion - do any
  of you remember unpacking an original 128K Mac? The Mac, the
  unpacking instructions, the profusely-illustrated and beautifully-
  written manuals, and the animated practice program with audio
  cassette were tastefully packaged in a cardboard box with Picasso-
  style graphics on the side.

**Looking Back** -- In my opinion, the software architectures
  developed at Xerox for Smalltalk and the Xerox Star were
  significantly more advanced than either the Mac or Windows. The
  Star was a tremendous accomplishment, with features that current
  systems haven't even started to implement, though I see OpenDoc as
  a strong advance past the Xerox systems. I have great respect for
  the amazing computer scientists at Xerox PARC, who led the way
  with innovations we all take for granted now, and from whom I
  learned a tremendous amount about software design.

  Apple could have developed a more complex, sophisticated system
  rivaling the Xerox architectures. But the Mac had to ship, and it
  had to be relatively inexpensive - we couldn't afford the time or
  expense of the "best possible" design. As a "little brother" to
  the Lisa, the Macintosh didn't have multitasking or protection -
  we didn't have space for the extra code or stack required. The
  original Macintosh had extremely tight memory and disk
  constraints; for example, the Resource Manager took up less than
  3,000 bytes of code in the ROM, and the Finder was only 46K on
  disk. We made _many_ design decisions that we regretted to some
  extent - even at the time some of us felt disappointed at the
  compromises we had to make - but if we had done it differently,
  would we have shipped at all?


**The Past and Future** -- In many ways, the computing world has
  made remarkably small advances since 1976, and we continually
  reinvent the wheel. Smalltalk had a nice bytecoded multi-platform
  virtual machine long before Java. Object oriented programming is
  the hot thing now, and it's almost 30 years old (see the Simula-67
  language). Environments have not progressed much either: I feel
  the Smalltalk environments from the late 1970's are the most
  pleasant, cleanest, fastest, and smoothest programming
  environments I have ever used. Although CodeWarrior is reasonably
  good for C++ development, I haven't seen anything that compares
  favorably to the Smalltalk systems I used almost 20 years ago. The
  Smalltalk systems of today aren't as clean, easy to use, or well-
  designed as the originals, in my opinion.

  We are not even _close_ to the ultimate computing-information-
  communication device. We have much more work to do on system
  architectures and user interfaces. In particular, user interface
  design must be driven by deep architectural issues and not just
  new graphical appearances; interfaces are structure, not image.
  Neither Copland nor Windows 95 (nor NT, for that matter) represent
  the last word on operating systems. Unfortunately, market forces
  are slowing the development of the next revolution. Still, I think
  you can count on Apple being the company bringing these
  improvements to next generation systems.

  I'm sure some things I remember as having originated at Apple were
  independently developed elsewhere. But the Mac brought them to the 
  world.

mdreier
Last modified: Tue Mar 4 20:36:07 MET 1997