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This article is from: JefRaskin@aol.com

Many people have sent me copies of Bruce Horn's [not attached after this
message] ... comments on the sources of the design of the Mac, asking
my thoughts on them. I thank you all for sending me Bruce's essay and
hope you enjoy some further information. 

I read Bruce Horn's recollections of the Macintosh project with some
interest. Horn arrived at Apple in 1981 after the Macintosh project had
been running about two years. I started working on it in early 1979,
presented it to Make Markkula about March of that year; it became an
official project in September. From the chronology, it is clear why Horn
doesn't have (as he is careful to say) first-hand knowledge of where many
of the original ideas came from, this note can fill in a few details. 

My primary role in this matter was to create the Macintosh project. I
named it for my favorite kind of eatin' apple, the succulent McIntosh (I
changed the spelling of the name to avoid potential conflict with McIntosh,
the audio equipment manufacturer). There have been, as Horn points out,
many inaccurate recountings of the early Mac history. The best I've seen
(they guy did some heavy-duty research) is Owen Linzmeyer's "The Mac
Bathroom Reader". My own history of the Mac (entitled "The Mac and
Me") is currently being serialized in the Computer Historical Association
of California's journal.

Other articles of mine that might interest readers of this: Two articles that
address interface issues: * Down With GUIs! Wired, December 1993, pg.
122. *"Intuitive Equals Familiar". Communications of the ACM. 37:9
September 1994 pg. 17. Two articles that address historical matters: *
"Holes in the Histories" Interactions 1.3, July 1994 pg. 11 * "Hubris of a
heavyweight. A review of Steve Jobs & the NeXT Big Thing by Randall
E. Stross." IEEE Spectrum, July 1994 pp. 8-9.

Horn is correct that click-and-drag methods were invented at Apple and
not at PARC (or elsewhere, as far as I know). I created this method for
moving objects and making selections after finding the Xerox
click-move-click method prone to error. Bill Atkinson extended the
paradigm to pull-down menus. This all happened relatively early in the
history of the Mac. The way my insight got extended by Bill was typical
of how things developed then. Surprising as it may seem in retrospect,
there was some resistance to my new way of using a graphic input device
and I had to repeatedly explain how drag worked and why it was often
easier to use than the modal click-move-click technique developed first (as
far as I know) on the Sketchpad system and then used at Xerox PARC.
Some of the arguments I used involved looking at number of user actions
and the time they took, an approach that was then or would soon become
the very useful GOMS model of Card, Moran, and Newell. Bill was a
strong supporter of my ideas and at one session where I was explaining
how drag worked Bill, by way of amplifying how useful it was, said
something like, "And you can use it to open menus, just put the cursor on
the top and drag down to the item you want."

I hired Bill for Apple, inviting him up from UCSD, where he had been a
student of mine. His close friend Bud Tribble, another UCSD student I
knew, joined us. Later still Bud was to lead software development at
Next.

Trying to untangle the history is sometimes hard, as in my reference to the
work of Card et. al. To see what I mean, here's a bit of background: I had
been, in the early 70's, a professor and computer center director at the
University of California at San Diego and a Visiting Scholar at the
Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) at the now-demolished
D.C. Power Laboratory (named for a Mr. D. Power). When PARC was
in its first few years I was often a visiting academic there, taking part in
discussions and viewing with delight some of the developments going on
there; I trust that people there also took pleasure in finding in me someone
who was already on much the same user-interface wavelength. I didn't
have to be sold on the idea that UI and graphcis were of primary
importance to the future of computing. When I joined Apple in 1978 I
stopped visiting PARC to avoid any possible conflicts of interest. Given
these circumstances I could have learned from Stu Card, Tom Moran or
others at PARC the basic ideas of GOMS style analysis, or I might not
have run into that work during my visits to PARC. I don't remember, and
unless I find something in my files about it someday or someone else
recalls a significant event, I will never know if my primitive GOMS-style
analysis that helped lead to Apple's adopting my click-and-drag methods
was based on their work or not.

I was the 31st employee at Apple (joining in January, 1978), but I had
first met Jobs and Wozniak in their garage in 1976, and told them of the
wonderful work being done at PARC. Working on the Apple I at the time,
they weren't interested in human factors. While I was the first
PARC-savvy person at Apple, Larry Tesler was the first PARC employee
to join the company. At first he was strongly opposed to the Mac's
easier-to-use mouse methods, and I eventually wrote a memo that
showed, point by point, that the one-button mouse could do everything
that PARCs three-button mouse could do and with the same number or
fewer user actions. It was faster and more efficient, and much easier to
learn and remember how to use. I had observed that people (including
myself) at PARC often made wrong-button errors in using the mouse,
which was part of my impetus for doing better.

Horn makes it seem that the selection-based editor came with Tesler from
PARC. It may have been a case of convergent evolution, since we already
had that paradigm at the Mac project. In this case it dates at least back to an
editor I designed much earlier, while at Bannister & Crun. In '73 I
discussed my editor concepts with many people at PARC, so I do not
know whether Tesler's design was influenced by my work, I know it was
not the other way around.

My thesis in Computer Science, published in 1967, argued that computers
should be all-graphic, that we should eliminate character generators and
create characters graphically and in various fonts, that what you see on the
screen should be what you get, and that the human interface was more
important than mere considerations of algorithmic efficiency and
compactness. This was heretical in 1967, half a decade before PARC
started. Many of the basic principles of the Mac were firmly entrenched in
my psyche. By the way, the name of my thesis was the "Quick-Draw
Graphics System", which became the name of (and part of the inspiration
for) Atkinson's graphics package for the Mac.

Thus Horn is more correct than he knew when he wrote that the world has
generally overestimated the influence of PARC on the Mac, as even some
of the concepts that he attributes to PARC's influence predated PARC.

When Bruce Horn discusses the hardware, and attributes the overall
concept for the design to Jerry Mannock (who indeed did a world-class
job on the final design of the box). Horn is unaware that the requirements
for a small footprint, unique aesthetic, built-in sound, etc. were all part of
the project specs from the very beginning, long before Mannock joined the
team. I still have drawings (mostly by my long-time friend and fellow
early Apple employee Brian Howard) starting in late 1979 that show these
features. The built-in speaker and serial ports were merely carrying on the
Apple II tradition. My design also had a bus extension port to allow
additional memory and other devices to be added, but Steve Jobs removed
that feature. It returned with the SE.

Before creating the Mac project, I was Manager of Publications at Apple,
and so for the Mac I was careful to insist that the excellence of the product
extend, to use Horn's words, to "the unpacking instructions, the
profusely-illustrated and beautifully-written manuals, ... tastefully
packaged." Packaging was another major concern of mine; I had worked
for a company in South San Francisco called "The Box Factory" where I
had done box and display design. I did not work on the manuals or the
box design myself, but I had put in place the systems and people who
would do a first-rate job, and inculcated these values in Apple's
management.

Horn and many other people who joined Apple long after the Mac and
Lisa projects were well under way never knew the genesis of many of the
ideas the were later to become prominent and widely copied. For example,
he attributes the internationalization of the products to the Lisa group, but
it actually began when I hired Joanna Hoffmann into the Mac group
partially because of her international background and my interest in
providing international fonts. I could go on for another few pages of
similar small errors in chronology or attribution in Horn's remarks, but
they are not of major importance (except perhaps to the people who did the
work).

Time plays tricks on memory. By chance, I got to use a Xerox Star for the
first time recently. It was in a room with a Lisa and an early Mac. I found
the Star and the Lisa to be incredibly slow and somewhat clumsy to use;
the Mac was far faster and more fluid (a tribute to Horn and his associate's
efforts!). The speed differences were real, but it could be that my
familiarity with the Mac accounts for the feeling of clumsiness with the
Star and Lisa. I suspect if Horn were to go and use a Star today, he would
not be quite so enthusiastic about how "advanced" it was, at least from a
user's point of view. Of course, he might well be correct when speaking
from a programmer's point of view. However, I've always been more
concerned with users. Programmers do their work but once, while users
are saddled with it ever thereafter.

I find looking at the past not nearly as interesting as looking into the
future. As Horn says, and as I have written in a number of articles, things
haven't changed as much as the hype would have it. I think that years
from now, when the details have been washed away by the acid rains of
time, four major commercial events will stand out in the history of
personal computers: the advent of the microprocessor which drove prices
of computers down to the point where individuals could buy them and led
to the first flowering of the present computer revolution, the ascendancy
of the software industry and the shift from "users will program them" to
"users will run software packages", the Mac interface and its followers
which brought the benefits of computers to a far broader audience and
fundamentally changed the way we use computers of all sizes and
software of all kinds, and (to tread on dangerous ground since the event is
relatively recent) the blossoming of the Internet. To sum up the history: 

       Cheap Hardware 
       Application Software 
       Human Interface 
       Internet 

Forget operating systems as a significant part of the story, they are just a
detail. Users would be better off if they never had to deal with one, and
someday operating systems will disappear from view, just as the details of
the processor (thankfully) have.

The future lies with getting rid of the cumbersome and complex systems
we have now and moving to simpler, more direct methods of harnessing
the power of the processor. See my article in Wired (cited above) for a bit
more on the reasons for this.

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