From the beginning of “The Platform Wars,”
there was a clear technical difference under the hood. Apple produced its early Macintosh computers using Motorola’s powerful, graphics optimized 68xxx family of CPUs. IBM and the clone manufacturers relied on the cheaper and less proficient Intel x86 family of number crunching CPUs.
In the early 90s, Apple realized that the Motorola 68xxx CPU series was running out of steam, its technical edge slipping. In an effort to keep the Mac well ahead of the x86 PCs now running Windows 3, Apple boldly approached none other than IBM to co-design a new RISC chip that Motorola would produce. The AIM project as it was called would produce a powerful series of CPUs for Apple and other companies marketed under the PowerPC umbrella.
The PC producers were burdened with supporting old 8 and 16 bit code in the later x86 chips. The 64 bit PowerPC had no such problem. It was far easier to scale down to run the 32bit code of the 68xxx series through software emulators without much of a performance hit. As a result, Apple enjoyed a bit of a sales boom in the early 90s… Until the launch of Windows 95.
Suddenly, it became a marketing game of numbers mixed in with the smoke and mirrors. The two chip architectures were dramatically different. PowerPC was RISC based, more modern, more powerful. Intel’s x86 was CISC! Bigger, more power hungry, and slow. Comparing the two was like comparing apples and oranges, no pun intended. However, there was one thing the two chip types had in common – measurable clock speed.
It would become a game Intel and Microsoft mastered. Clock speed was a quantifiable number. Yet, it had very little impact on how well or fast a computer actually performed a given task. Intel and Microsoft discovered that if they co branded with the hardware producers the “Intel Inside” feature, they could alter the public’s perception with saturation advertising and marketing efforts. And they would do it on the back of the only perceived technical advantage the Wintel collective enjoyed, a faster raw cycles per second Clock Speed!
It didn’t matter in 1994 that PowerPC CPUs performed real tasks twice as fast at half the clock speed of the x86 chips they competed against. The Wintel consortium pounded the faster CPU clock speed tech spec until that number was all that mattered to the consumer. And soon, the other shoe dropped. The Stones performed “Start Me Up” as Microsoft launched Windows 95. The rest, as they say, was history.
Apple struggled in the middle 90s. Starting in 1993, the company replaced one CEO after another. John Sculley was replaced by Michael Spindler. He in turn was replaced by Gil Amelio.
The Crown Jewel of the company, the very thing that made the Mac a Mac – System 7 was falling way behind. Something had to be done. Apple’s follow up efforts at building a modern OS replacement were failing. Gil Amelio, who became Apple’s CEO in February of 1996, did the next best thing… literally.
Apple’s initial efforts to acquire Be Inc. and its BeOS operating system broke down over price. So, in what could only be described as a “Hail Mary” pass, Amelio secretly negotiated to buy NeXT to acquire its NeXTStep Operating System in February of 1997. In so doing, as a sort of package deal, Steve Jobs found himself back at Apple! The company didn’t know it at the time, but Jobs would literally pull the company back from the abyss on the way to making Apple the most valuable company in the world.
The PowerPC chips would be at the heart of Macintosh computers for twelve years. However, the performance edge over Intel chips was no longer significant. Complicating matters further for Apple was the sense that Motorola seemed more committed to its imbedded chip business than to personal computers.
Suddenly, at the Developers’ Conference in 2005, Jobs announced that Apple was dropping the PowerPC. The company was going to migrate its entire lineup of computers to Intel CPUs. Beginning with the iMac in January of 2006, every Macintosh computer had “Intel Inside.” And with the Introduction of MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) PowerPC computers would no longer be updated.
Then, Mac went MacTel.
And just like that, my best lines were gone!
Back in the Good Old Days, the Macintosh Fan Base had a bunch of great comebacks to all the jabs we endured from the Wintel IT guys. Heck, it was child’s play when it came to shooting down the uninformed. The great unwashed mass of folks lured into the Wintel Empire really had no clue. They simply bought into marketing hype and the false promises of the vaporware.
There were great sources of “one liners” available throughout the 80s and 90s. They even became necessary to master. After all, we had to do something to push back in the face of the daily headlines predicting the eminent death of Apple. With the launch of Windows 95, and up through the “Reintroduction” of the All in One Apple computer with the Boni Blue iMac, the so-called experts said Apple was finished. Michael Dell famously advised Steve Jobs to liquidate the company and give the money to the shareholders. How’d that work out for you Mike?
I can’t tell you how many times a PC using friend or associate said “Joe, when are you going to give up that Mac? Every one uses Windows.” I would remind them that there are many more cockroaches on the planet too. But no one could make the case that the roaches were a higher life form!
One of the best lines comes from Guy Kawasaki. “Telling a Mac user that Windows is just like a Macintosh is like finding a potato that looks like Jesus and believing you’ve witnessed the second coming!”
Here are a few more Golden Oldies from the glory days in the Mac vs. PC Wars.
“There are many PCs that are less expensive than a Mac. Isn’t it smarter to buy the cheaper one?’ You know, that same argument was used to sell a lot of Yugos in the 1980s, but nobody was calling for the death of Mercedes-Benz.”
PC user, “There’s just no software for the Mac.”
Mac User, “Oh really? How many different word processors do you need? So what there’s 20,000 titles for DOS, Windows3.x and Windows 95 compared to 8,000 titles for Macintosh. What that really means is there are 19,990 titles PC owners will never use and 7,970 titles Mac owners will never use.”
Mac users buy more software. PC users pirate more software.
Mac users give their computers affectionate names. PC users call their computers profanity laced names.
Mac users humanize their computers. PC users demonize theirs.
“The Macintosh may only have 10% of the market, but it is clearly the top 10%.” (Douglas Adams)
Forcing children to use a PC running a Microsoft operating system is a terrible form of Child Abuse.
“The box said “Windows ’95 or Better”… so I got a Mac.”
“Friends don’t let friends use Windows.”
“If builders built buildings the way Windows programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.”
An ancient eastern proverb says: I complained because I had no shoes; then I met a man who had no feet. For the 90’s: I complained because I had no PowerMac; then I met a man who used Windows.
“Usually Mac users are able to solve most of their problems without any help from us.” (BellSouth ISP Tech Support)
“If Bill Gates had a dime for every time a Windows box crashed … … Oh, wait a minute, he already does.”
“I wouldn’t dream of touching a PC unless it was for satirical purposes (like dropping it off an overpass).”
“[Microsoft] is the fox that takes you across the river and then eats you.” (Pete Peterson, former WordPerfect executive)
“I’m not one of those who think Bill Gates is the devil. I simply suspect that if Microsoft ever met up with the devil, it wouldn’t need an interpreter.” (Nicholas Petreley, InfoWorld editor)
“The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armor to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he, who by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it in the first place.” (Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
“We won. Every computer in the world is basically a Macintosh now.” (Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple Computer)
Though all of these are cool, I was forced to stop using my favorite line of all time in the Mac vs. PC Wars.
Why would anyone ever buy a computer that comes with a warning label printed all over the box? It’s right there. Don’t you see it? It says “Intel Inside!” Man, I really miss that one.