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Nearly 25 Years Ago, IBM Helped Save Macintosh

samzenpus posted 5 days ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Businesses 236

dcblogs (1096431) writes "Apple and IBM, which just announced partnership to bring iOS and cloud services to enterprises, have helped each other before. IBM played a key role in turning the Macintosh into a successful hardware platform at a point when it — and the company itself — were struggling. Nearly 25 years ago, IBM was a part of an alliance that gave Apple access to PowerPC chips for Macintosh systems that were competitive, if not better performing in some benchmarks, than the processors Intel was producing at the time for Windows PCs. In 1991, Apple was looking for a RISC-based processor to replace the Motorola 68K it had been using in its Macintosh line. "The PCs of the era were definitely outperforming the Macintoshes that were based on the 68K," he said. "Apple was definitely behind the power, performance curve," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. The PowerPC processor that emerged from that earlier pairing changed that. PowerPC processors were used in Macintoshes for more than a decade, until 2006, when Apple switched to Intel chips.

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236 comments

Pairing? (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 5 days ago | (#47473679)

Apple was definitely behind the power, performance curve," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. The PowerPC processor that emerged from that earlier pairing changed that

PowerPC was pushed by the AIM alliance: Apple, IBM, Motorola. The latter two developed and produced chips. Apple had some input. The goal was an ISA that made it easy to emulate both m68k and i386.

Re:Pairing? (1)

dfghjk (711126) | 5 days ago | (#47473823)

THE goal of PowerPC was not to make it easy to emulate 68K and x86. It wasn't even A goal.

The goal of PowerPC was performance parity with x86 at much smaller die sizes and therefore much lower cost. All non-x86 architectures of the era targeted better performance at the same die sizes and costs as x86. What was unique with PowerPC was to be cheaper, that's all.

Re:Pairing? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473931)

And to crack the Wintel monopoly, if not break it. This was feasible, DEC had finally folded, so Intel couldn't steal their architecture anymore (as Alpha technology was stolen for the Pentium and x86_64 architecture) or the kernels (as Microsoft hired David Cutler to bring the VMS kernel with him to create Windows NT.)

Too bad the PowerPC machines *couldn't run the damn games* or the requisite MS Office suites for students and business people to use them.

Re:Pairing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474133)

"Wintel" wasn't even a thing in 1991. Windows was still a graphical DOS shell that couldn't compete with the earliest versions of the Macintosh system.
And I have no idea why you bring up MS Office. The word processor back then was WordPerfect.

Re:Pairing? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474839)

"Wintel" wasn't even a thing in 1991.

That is extremely wrong and revisionist. Wintel was fucking huge in 1991. If you bought a machine with an x86 chip it very likely came with Windows "free" even if you never started it. Windows was everywhere; most people just didn't happen to like it.

Windows was still a graphical DOS shell that couldn't compete with the earliest versions of the Macintosh system.

No, it was inferior to most other OSes, but it also crushed them all, too. Whether preloads count as "competition" or "not competing" was something plenty of people argued about back then. But from an installed-base PoV (i.e. how an app developer would look at the potential market for their apps) it unambiguously "completed" and won.

Also, MacOS was horrible in 1991. That was the one relatively-popular OS that Windows could nearly compete on merit with.

And I have no idea why you bring up MS Office. The word processor back then was WordPerfect.

Gotta agree with you, there. It would be several more years before I ever saw anyone with MS Office, and a few years after that, before I had to have some way to read MS Office files. Fucking lusers, you tell em "save in a standard format," and the blank stare-backs were just priceless .. yet also very frustrating. It was almost like being trapped in the novel Catch-22, where you wanna laugh at the fuckwits and yet their actions also really mattered and were dooming everyone, so laughing just wasn't quite the right response. Dark, dark times. 1991 was bad, but not nearly that bad, yet.

Re:Pairing? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475057)

"Wintel" wasn't even a thing in 1991.

That is extremely wrong and revisionist. Wintel was fucking huge in 1991. If you bought a machine with an x86 chip it very likely came with Windows "free" even if you never started it. Windows was everywhere; most people just didn't happen to like it.

Windows was still a graphical DOS shell that couldn't compete with the earliest versions of the Macintosh system.

No, it was inferior to most other OSes, but it also crushed them all, too. Whether preloads count as "competition" or "not competing" was something plenty of people argued about back then. But from an installed-base PoV (i.e. how an app developer would look at the potential market for their apps) it unambiguously "completed" and won.

Also, MacOS was horrible in 1991. That was the one relatively-popular OS that Windows could nearly compete on merit with.

And I have no idea why you bring up MS Office. The word processor back then was WordPerfect.

Gotta agree with you, there. It would be several more years before I ever saw anyone with MS Office, and a few years after that, before I had to have some way to read MS Office files. Fucking lusers, you tell em "save in a standard format," and the blank stare-backs were just priceless .. yet also very frustrating. It was almost like being trapped in the novel Catch-22, where you wanna laugh at the fuckwits and yet their actions also really mattered and were dooming everyone, so laughing just wasn't quite the right response. Dark, dark times. 1991 was bad, but not nearly that bad, yet.

NO, he is correct WINTEL was NOT big in 1991. In 1991 MS released Windows 3.0. Win 1.0 thru 2.1 were pretty crappy and the PC industry was leary of 3.0 and had not really jumped on it. IBM PC and PC juuior came standard with DOS 6. You would have to go purchase Window separately. It wasn't until 1992 when Win 3.1 and 3.11 came out that IBM and Compaq started shipping PC's with Windows on them. That is when the Intel based "PC Clones" ( HP, Packard Bell, Compaq, and a littel later Dell , Gateway, etc) started really hitting the market and the WINTEL hold began and solidified when Windows 95 came out.

Re:Pairing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475219)

This is mostly correct, except for the stuff about clones.
PC clones were big throughout the '80s; they ran MS-DOS long before Windows was an OS.
My uncle bought a 386 clone about 1989; it came with install disks for MS-DOS 4.01 and Windows 2.11. I installed them for him and showed him how to start Windows, but he never actually used it for anything--he just ran DOS programs.
Also, DOS 5 came out in 1991, and DOS 6 in 1992.

Re:Pairing? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | 5 days ago | (#47474867)

Because agenda driven people rarely have time to actually understand what they are talking about.

Re:Pairing? (1, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | 5 days ago | (#47474441)

"Too bad the PowerPC machines *couldn't run the damn games* or the requisite MS Office suites for students and business people to use them."

Too bad people insist on relying on brittle opaque binaries instead of real software. Real software can be ported and recompiled, allowing its users to migrate freely between architectures - from MIPS to Alpha to PPC to x86, for example - quite freely.

Re:Pairing? (2, Informative)

jimmifett (2434568) | 5 days ago | (#47474597)

No, this is stupid, wasteful, unoptimized software that performs like feces compared to a platform optimized piece of software.

The whole myth I've heard about software portability most of my life has never bore fruit that didn't need tweaks for different platforms.

The whole notion in the first place was to expand programming to the masses by giving the appearance of the elimination of the need of specialists.
A good intention, to be sure, except for the specialists.
The problem was that a specialist with knowledge of how the hardware operates could write software that took more advantage and/or better performed on a given platform. Things like CPU instruction set options, memory alignment, etc.

There is now a resurgence of platform optimized specialization thanks to big data. Do you want your humungous data sets processed and analyzed in months or years by the average programmer, or do you want it in days and weeks by the programmer that really, really knows how to squeeze the hardware.

Re:Pairing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474689)

"Knowledge of how the hardware operates", "Things like CPU instruction set options, memory alignment, etc.", are the business of compilers and their creators.
Compilers optimize code much much better than humans do.

Re:Pairing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474855)

Never looked at a cross-platform source code repository, eh?

There's usually one small set of files that are littered with #ifdef POWERPC or whatever that handles all of the strange non-portable stuff, endianness, etc.

The rest of the codebase should be mostly untouched by such ugliness, and should call the "ugly" platform-aware code to get anything platform-specific done.

Of course, that's for properly structured code. Some projects have unmaintainable messes, usually accompanied by security holes large enough to sail an oil tanker through.

Re:Pairing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474945)

The problem was that a specialist with knowledge of how the hardware operates could write software that took more advantage and/or better performed on a given platform. Things like CPU instruction set options, memory alignment, etc.

It was always amazing to me how many of these "hardware" hacks broke with *every* OS upgrade, while "unoptimized" but decently performing programs that followed the rules worked just fine. Last I knew, the OS was software.

Re:Pairing? (1)

Christian Smith (3497) | 5 days ago | (#47475001)

No, this is stupid, wasteful, unoptimized software that performs like feces compared to a platform optimized piece of software.

Eh? What are you on about?

Yeah, those hand tweaked 16bit binaries performed really well on the pipelined i486 processors of the time. Really extracted all the potential out of the advances that were taking the CPU industry by storm.

In case you missed, I was being sarcastic. "Platform optimised" (read DOS) programs held the industry back at least a decade, and it's only after we left the 16-bit sheckles^W^Wplatform optimized software behind that x86 based platforms started to reach parity with their RISC based peers.

Afterall, Doom was famously written in C on a Next cube, then ported to x86/DOS and "platform optimised" as a final step.

The whole myth I've heard about software portability most of my life has never bore fruit that didn't need tweaks for different platforms.

The software I write has had no tweaks since we stopped supporting HP-UX 10. The biggest headache is GUI code, but libraries such as Qt take care of that.

The only performance tweaks we do is upgrading compilers, and ensuring we use efficient algorithms (ie, not O(N^2) when O(NlogN) is available.)

The whole notion in the first place was to expand programming to the masses by giving the appearance of the elimination of the need of specialists.
A good intention, to be sure, except for the specialists.
The problem was that a specialist with knowledge of how the hardware operates could write software that took more advantage and/or better performed on a given platform. Things like CPU instruction set options, memory alignment, etc.

There is now a resurgence of platform optimized specialization thanks to big data. Do you want your humungous data sets processed and analyzed in months or years by the average programmer, or do you want it in days and weeks by the programmer that really, really knows how to squeeze the hardware.

That's right, the demand for hand optimizing assembly programmers is though the roof.

Do you want your big data software written in months or years, as the programmer tries to squeeze every once of performance from the CPU, while your competitor has had the software running already for months and compensated for the lack of optimization by buying an extra rack of servers.

Big data is processed faster by better algorithms, not platform tweaking.

Facebook optimized their platform by JIT compiling their PHP, but the stuff was still written in PHP in the first place by "non-specialists" and the optimization was a relatively small final step. As an added bonus, they're also porting to ARM by basically re-implmenting just the JIT compiler for ARM. So not really optimized for any particular platform, just x64 by virtue of being their primary target platform.

Google use C++, Java and Python, and I'd bet there isn't any Google hand optimized assembler in any of that mix. They kicked big data butt by using clever, scalable algorithms.

Re:Pairing? (1)

zephvark (1812804) | 5 days ago | (#47475149)

The hell is wrong with your font?

Re:Pairing? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 5 days ago | (#47474529)

THE goal of PowerPC was not to make it easy to emulate 68K and x86. It wasn't even A goal.

You might want to go back and read some press releases from the AIM alliance at that time. Or even look at the ISA: there are a lot of things in there that only make sense if you want to emulate m68k or x86. They were positioning PowerPC as a migration path from m68k and i386 systems and being able to emulate both at a reasonable speed was part of this strategy.

Re:Pairing? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 5 days ago | (#47475015)

Or even look at the ISA: there are a lot of things in there that only make sense if you want to emulate m68k or x86.

That sounds pretty interesting? Do you happen to have a reference for further reading?

Intel (1, Insightful)

countach (534280) | 5 days ago | (#47473681)

Errr, yeah, but they could have just used Intel chips like everyone else. Ultimately it would have given better performance, saved themselves a lot of pain in switch over, and put themselves ahead of the curve selling to people who wanted to dual boot. So did IBM save them or cripple them?

Re:Intel (4, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | 5 days ago | (#47473725)

Errr, yeah, but they could have just used Intel chips like everyone else. Ultimately it would have given better performance, saved themselves a lot of pain in switch over, and put themselves ahead of the curve selling to people who wanted to dual boot. So did IBM save them or cripple them?

As a result, Apple had the more POWERful chips for many years. They avoided the Pentium debacle completely. Pentium M was the first sane chip that Intel produced, and Apple got in with the Core Duo - just when the whole world was screaming how for ahead AMD was, and just before Intel turned things around.

Re:Intel (1)

dfghjk (711126) | 5 days ago | (#47473855)

Nonsense. The 486, Pentium Pro, P2, and P3 were all fine. It was only the P4 diversion that was a disaster. The Pentium M was simply a return to the P3 architecture, it was not new.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473941)

It went back farther than that. The P3 Tualatin was an evolution from the P2 core, which was based on the Pentium Pro. In the Pentium M, they were returning to an architecture that was by then 8 years old.

Re:Intel (1)

jonwil (467024) | 5 days ago | (#47474013)

The most telling thing about the whole story is that the last chips in the P3 line were beating the first entries in the P4 line at the same clock speed.

Re:Intel (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 5 days ago | (#47474467)

The 486, Pentium Pro, P2, and P3 were all fine. It was only the P4 diversion that was a disaster.

Timing is everything, of course. If the iMac had been built on Intel Apple probably would have had to stay with a P3 for cooling/heat/noise reasons. That might have worked technically (the P3 continued to do well against the P4 on benchmarks) but it would have been heavily marketed against by its competitors.

The iMac actually is what saved Apple because by offering industrial design and fashion instead of raw tech and logic, they set themselves up to realize the iPod market, and the rest is history.

But given NeXTStep's legendary portability, it's no secret that early iMacs were PPC because that's what Apple was building - not because Jobs wasn't looking to move the company to new ISAs since he got there. Those things take time.

Re:Intel (1)

buckfeta2014 (3700011) | 5 days ago | (#47474789)

My prescott runs circles around dual P3 systems. It also runs circles around quad P3-era xeons.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475009)

My dual Pentium II Overdrive (socket 8) leaves many P3's and P4's in the dust. Shame it's only the 440FX chipset.

Re:Intel (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | 5 days ago | (#47474987)

Actually the P4 would have been fine if they could have reached the clocks they predicted (10GHz+) but the pipes ended up so damned long every cache miss was like slamming on the brakes, not to mention the truly insane amounts of heat the last P4s belched out.

This is why I tell folks to toss if they have a P4 as while an Athlon of the same age is still useful the amount of heat belched out by Prescott and Cedar Mill P4s is just nuts. At the shop I've been replacing P4s with E350s and recently socket AM1s and even those bottom of the line netbook chips still feel faster than the P4 while putting out practically zero heat out the back. You don't realize how badly the cache misses slow the chip until you put an Athlon 64 or first gen Core Solo against the high clocked Pentium Ds, even at double the clocks they just feel dog slow.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475275)

Yep, it's amazing how poor my (thankfully replaced) P4 3.6Ghz did against a Core 2 Duo 1.3 or C2D 2.4 for even single threaded stuff. Not to mention putting out more heat then a Core 2 Quad 2.66 that leaves it in the dust.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473921)

And if they were RadicalPC chips Apple would have had more RADICAL chips for many years.

Re: Intel (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473955)

My impression was that Apple wanted to be incompatible, as this had several positive effects, the most important being staying in control. But building your own is always more expensive, so even at the time of the PowerPC they had to switch to PCI as a bus, as their customers were still prone to compare prices. With regular components Apple has much more trouble keeping customers using their OS with off the shelf hardware, but they probably feel compelled to continue on this way to stay competetive in pricing.

Re:Intel (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 5 days ago | (#47473813)

Spoken like someone who has no idea about the market at the time. The PowerPC was introduced in 1992, announced in 1991. At the time, Intel's flagship x86 part was the 486 but they were trying to kill the x86 line. They'd released the i860 (RISC, not x86-compatible) in 1989 and tech magazines were saying it would kill x86. Windows NT was originally written for the i860 and only later ported to x86, so even Windows looked like it might not be tied to x86 in the long term.

1992 saw the launch of the Alpha and MIPS R4K, and 1993 saw the SPARCv9 ISA. It didn't look like a 32-bit architecture that was hacked onto a legacy 16-bit ISA had much of a long-term future. IBM and Motorola were two of the biggest players in CPU manufacturing and they teamed up to produce something that would provide a migration path for m68k and i386 software. The PowerPC architecture was based on IBM's POWER architecture but extended to make it easy to emulate m68k and i386 at reasonable speeds. Microsoft was signed up to port Windows NT and it looked like you'd be able to run Windows and MacOS (the two most popular desktop operating systems) and possibly some of the other less-popular ones (most of which were m68k-based) on the same hardware. IBM and Motorola were both going to produce chips, so there was guaranteed to be competition, which would bring down prices, and they were soliciting other companies to produce implementations of the architecture. Within a few years, PowerPC would be faster and cheaper than x86 and would run more software. At least, that was the theory. It sounded quite plausible, but history didn't quite work out like that.

Re:Intel (5, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | 5 days ago | (#47473961)

They'd released the i860 (RISC, not x86-compatible) in 1989 and tech magazines were saying it would kill x86. Windows NT was originally written for the i860 and only later ported to x86, so even Windows looked like it might not be tied to x86 in the long term.

This is technically true. Windows NT was originally designed to be OS/2 version 3.0 and at first they targeted the i860 which never did well, so they changed to the MIPS platform. Prior to release Microsoft decided to make it their next Windows platform and the rest was history.

What made Windows NT unique at the time was the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) that allowed Microsoft to target multiple processor platforms. At release, Windows NT supported i386 (called IA-32 at the time), Alpha, and MIPS.

Re:Intel (1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474099)

One feature of the 68k to PowerPC transition was that they had software emulation for the 68k. The PowerPC was able to emulate the 68k sufficiently that most software would still run on the new hardware. This emulation was good enough that most applications performed on par with the older native platforms. Software that was recompiled for the new architecture performed much better.

During this time, parallel processing was looking more interesting as memory and storage capacity increased. The rise of the RISC processor with highly efficient task switching capabilities spurred Intel to develop the i860 and then the Itanium. At the time, many thought that RISC would be the future of computing. Ultimately, Intel could not produce a system (e.g. compiler + processor) that could outperform Power or SPARC processors of the day. Furthermore, abandoning the x86 instruction set meant that they would lose the customer lock-in they had with existing customers.

I was always surprised that software emulation of x86 was not significantly attempted on the other RISC platforms given the success shown by Apple. It would have allowed other vendors to steal some of the x86 locked-in customer base. The RISC systems were generally more expensive and had higher storage requirements, so they probably would never have replaced the x86 workstation. But they may have been able to replace a lightly used x86 server with something that could do that and more...

Re:Intel (1)

armanox (826486) | 5 days ago | (#47474841)

I believe that x86 emulation existed for IRIX on MIPS and Solaris on SPARC (and maybe more, just the two I know) via SoftPC.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475139)

I definitely have used SoftPC and SoftWindows on IRIX (5.x), Solaris 2.x, and AIX 4.1. Some of the more beefy SGI machines could run Doom at a pretty good clip, even 100% emulated.

Re:Intel (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | 5 days ago | (#47475085)

One feature of the 68k to PowerPC transition was that they had software emulation for the 68k. The PowerPC was able to emulate the 68k sufficiently that most software would still run on the new hardware. This emulation was good enough that most applications performed on par with the older native platforms.

The 110 MHz PowerPC was at the time the fastest machine for running 68K code. At the time there were actually Atari users who bought a PowerPC Mac + Atari emulator because it was the fastest Atari computer that you could buy for any money.

Re:Intel (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 5 days ago | (#47475197)

Which is why Apple left the file system and network stack running in emulated code until they were shamed into fixing it?

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474309)

Thank you. You've saved me having to correct this nonsense and done it better than I would have. I guess the bullshit title performed it's job - it pulled me into the thread.

Re:Intel (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | 5 days ago | (#47474539)

So please elaborate where is the hardware support in PowerPC to emulate 68k and x86.

Good luck.

Apple got some good emulation software but it had zilch to do with PowerPC being designed with emulation of those architectures as a goal.

Re:Intel (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 5 days ago | (#47474685)

The most obvious example is the byte-swapping load instructions. There are some other examples if you can find the papers by the VirtualPC authors, which explain them in detail. It's been quite a few years since I paid attention to anything PowerPC related.

Re:Intel (2)

markhb (11721) | 5 days ago | (#47474695)

Microsoft was signed up to port Windows NT and it looked like you'd be able to run Windows and MacOS (the two most popular desktop operating systems) and possibly some of the other less-popular ones (most of which were m68k-based) on the same hardware.

You left out OS/2, which Lou Gerstner hadn't given up on yet (although the nightmare of the PPC port helped him make up his mind). IBM at this point still had hopes of re-conquering the desktop market, and the CHRP (Common Hardware Reference Platform, aka PPC hardware design) was part of that. Alas, it was not to be. I have booted exactly one machine in my life - a small tower RS/6000 running AIX - that came up and proclaimed itself to be a CHRP machine.

IIRC, either Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 did, in fact, ship with a PowerPC install on the CD, alongside i386, Alpha and MIPS. Whichever it was was also the last of the NT line to support multiple architectures until 64-bit came along.

Re:Intel (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 5 days ago | (#47475047)

My Windows NT 4.0 disk had a PowerPC installer on it. I never found a CHRP machine to run it on though. I tried it on a PowerPC Mac once, but couldn't get it to boot. Windows 2000 only shipped for IA32.

Re:Intel (3, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 5 days ago | (#47474985)

At the time, PowerPC chips were more powerful than x86 in terms of raw computing power. I believe that the G5 Mac was technically classified as a supercomputer based on an old standard of flops and could not be exported until the US government updated the definitions.

The reason for the switchover to x86 had to do more with power efficiency, customization, and logistics. While the PowerPC architecture did lend itself to better overall computing performance, it was lacking in power efficiency and heat. For a desktop that's not a major problem, but it is a problem for laptops. It's a problem that IBM never really solved as they never released a mobile G5 and Apple was stuck with mobile G4s until the Intel switchover. Here is one area where Intel was way ahead.

The two other related issues have to do with Apple's needs and IBM and Motorola's manufacturing logistics. Apple despite ordering millions of chips a year was always going to be a small customer in terms of volume. However Apple was going to need a heavily customized consumer PowerPC chip that required to be updated almost every year. Meanwhile most other PowerPC customers would want server/workstation chips that IBM used in their own products. Now these can be done but these factors cost time and money. I can see why Motorola and IBM (and also Apple) would be less likely to invest into new chips.

On the flipside, the Xbox 360's Xenon processor would be more the model of what IBM/Motorola wanted. Although it was heavily customized, the basic design has not changed in 8 years when the Xbox One was launched with estimated sales of 40+ million. This gave IBM enough time to do a die shrink to cut costs.

The change to Intel gave Apple many advantages. First of all, faster and more efficient mobile processors were available. Second, most of the features that Apple wanted were already in the x86 design as they were designed for consumer PCs. Third, any customization Apple requested from Intel, Intel could sell to competitors like Dell. For example, the first MacBook Airs used customized Intel Core processors in which the chip package had been shrunk 40%. Intel didn't mind investing the money for this customization as they sold them immediately to other customers. Many of the features that Intel got in the collaboration became part of the Ultrabook specification.

Re:Intel (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 5 days ago | (#47475215)

At the time the PPC was faster at integer math, the x86 faster at floating point.

There were many pissing contests on /.

the 'helping hands' of big blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473707)

how would we ever get along without it? http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ibm+hitler

Another misleading headline (5, Informative)

scotts13 (1371443) | 5 days ago | (#47473717)

I was working very closely with Apple at the time, and unless everyone was being lied to, "IBM saved Macintosh" is a pretty serious mischaracterization. More like three companies working together to create a platform useful to all the contributors. Did IBM put more into it than the other AIM members? Probably. But they didn't do it out of the goodness of their hearts.

Re:Another misleading headline (4, Funny)

rmdingler (1955220) | 5 days ago | (#47473753)

Did IBM put more into it than the other AIM members? Probably. But they didn't do it out of the goodness of their hearts.

There exists a noble, altruistic corporation that roams the lands doing the good work.

Mythbusted

Good work NE Altruism (1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473903)

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

Good work NE Altruism (5, Funny)

slashdice (3722985) | 5 days ago | (#47474021)

And Standard Oil saved more whales (kerosene is more convenient than whale oil) than Greenpeace ever will.

Re:Good work NE Altruism (2)

Jesrad (716567) | 5 days ago | (#47474957)

And Galapagos' turtles, too. Those were the prefered fresh meat of the whaling boats' sailors.

Re:Another misleading headline (1)

goarilla (908067) | 5 days ago | (#47474041)

There exists a noble, altruistic corporation that roams the lands doing the good work.

What about Oxfam and other ngo's ?

Re:Another misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474245)

They exist to get their employees paid and laid.

Re:Another misleading headline (3, Interesting)

dfghjk (711126) | 5 days ago | (#47473927)

At that time, Apple had plenty of RISC choices, all of which had better floating point performance than x86 and better performance overall. They could have chosen Alpha for its performance or MIPS as MS had done with the NT reference platform. They could have chosen SPARC or 88K and had more direct involvement with the future of their processors. Instead, they bought into IBM's claim that they would take over the x86 with equal performance at lower cost and lower power and got saddled with Motorola's processor design ineptitude.

It's a gross mischaracterization to say that IBM helped save the Macintosh. IBM led Apple to make a poor strategic decision that they had to rectify a decade later.

Re:Another misleading headline (2)

swb (14022) | 5 days ago | (#47474299)

No matter what CPU they had chosen, wouldn't they have had to migrate off it to x86 eventually? It's not like any of the alternatives like MIPS or Alpha have endured or kept up with Intel.

Maybe in hindsight they should have gone x86 off the bat but at the time RISC had a lot of hype and interest even from Microsoft.

Although a switch to MIPS instead of PowerPC might make one of my favorite alternative history stories, an Apple/SGI merger in the early 90s, more plausible as merging MacOS and IRIX would have been simpler.

Re:Another misleading headline (1)

armanox (826486) | 5 days ago | (#47474875)

SPARC and POWER seem to be still kicking pretty hard for performance. Now, power consumption is another issue with those platforms, but I digress.

MIPS is still alive, they simply found a different market to target.

Re:Another misleading headline (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | 5 days ago | (#47474567)

PowerPC had good performance for several years. When the 603 and 604 were around they had better performance than x86 did. The problems started when the Pentium Pro came out. Even then it was not manufactured in enough numbers to be a real issue. Then the Pentium II came out...

Re:Another misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473985)

They could have easily said Apple saved Motorola's and IBM's PowerPC and it would be just as valid. With the lock that Intel had on the desktop market, this was probably closer to the truth.

Re:Another misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474571)

All the companies are in it for the money. If there's no possibility of money to be made (i.e. Jobs killed MacOS licensing), the companies will not invest.

There is a reason why Tim Cook is CEO now. It is because he is a really aggressive customer who will get the pricing that he wants.

PPC macs were awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473729)

Right, so this is the infamous mac os 7 era right? Powermacs? Where motorola code was emulated to work on PPC? Apple being led by non-jobs? When Macs didnt just needed a restart every 24 hours (like windows did) but would outright ruin there system install every other week?

That was the most shitty Apple period ever.

Re:PPC macs were awful (2)

rwise2112 (648849) | 5 days ago | (#47473899)

Right, so this is the infamous mac os 7 era right? Powermacs? Where motorola code was emulated to work on PPC? Apple being led by non-jobs? When Macs didnt just needed a restart every 24 hours (like windows did) but would outright ruin there system install every other week?

That was the most shitty Apple period ever.

Yeah, I supported macs for an ISP back in the day. Saw many sad mac icons.

Re:PPC macs were awful (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474011)

Actually, I was surprised how solid Mac OS 8 was after going through Mac OS 7 and the trials and tribulations of unimplemented trap errors (hallmarks of 68K emulation). As long as you didn't have to go crazy on extensions, you could expect your Mac to keep on working. It didn't have any of the conveniences we have now with OS X, but it was far better than most of the Windows experience at the time (remember Plug and Pray?).

Besides, if you were really serious about running a server with Mac hardware, you loaded up MkLinux or bastardized AUX implementation. Hell, there was even a Mach kernel implementation for Mac hardware. And as you got further along into PPC architecture, you selection of Linux became even better (Yellow Dog was a favorite of mine). Apple's closed architecture made it fairly easy to target device drivers for almost all the peripherals. And the early adoption of USB made it easier as well.

Re:PPC macs were awful (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | 5 days ago | (#47474377)

Macs made USB!

It was very late in coming to Windows, and early implementations on Microsoft was horrible. They almost did the same thing to Firewire, and killed off the floppy long before it happened on PCs. SCSI implementation on Mac was also better. Mac tend to lead, PCs tend to "me too".

I have a theory on why this is, and it goes ... something like this.

Apple looks towards the future, and builds what will be "standard" in 3 years with their top of the line products. Things like USB, SCSI, Firewire, No Floppies, etc

Microsoft (and PCs) are always looking to build the least expensive product, and aren't very good at forward thinking. They wait for Apple to have "standards" they can use (USB) and the struggle to make those standards fit inside PCs. By the time PCs catch up, three years later, the re-announce "new" features that "just work" (sort of) that Macs had three years before, and thus become "standard".

Now it doesn't always work out that way, Apple has picked some horribly slick albatrosses along the way. Good ideas that never caught on (FireWire) But if you look at the "standards" today, almost all of them were "standard" on Mac long before they were standard on PCs.

I am not a Mac/Apple fanatic, I'll use anything you put in front of me. Computers are tools, and a craftsman uses any tool that's in front of him.

Re:PPC macs were awful (0)

jedidiah (1196) | 5 days ago | (#47474515)

Macs didn't "make USB", they forced it on their users while giving a big "fuck you" to all of their old customers running anything else. It's not like the old stuff was horrible either (ADB, SCSI).

In the meantime, USB was everywhere on PCs. It just wasn't forced down everyone's throats. Even recent systems with USB3 quietly included will still include interfaces from the :"dark ages".

It doesn't harm anything to have them there and is very handy should you actually want or need one of them.

The main problem with USB adoption was OS support from Microsoft. They dragged their feet as usual. Also, the market for USB peripherals really didn't get interesting until Microsoft's sandbagging stopped. The fact that Apple was abusing all of it's users didn't change the landscape all that much.

Re:PPC macs were awful (2)

scotts13 (1371443) | 5 days ago | (#47474673)

Macs didn't "make USB", they forced it on their users while giving a big "fuck you" to all of their old customers running anything else. It's not like the old stuff was horrible either (ADB, SCSI).

It was a little annoying that Apple made the jump all at once into USB, but really - a couple of RS422 ports was better? ADB was always only for mice and keyboards, and years of experience showed that for most users, SCSI was just too expensive and hard to set up. Or don't you remember "SCSI Hell"? For higher end Macs, you could retrofit SCSI, serial, and even USB cards if you really needed to. Some configurations even included a SCSI card.

As far as "USB was everywhere on PC's" that's just wrong. At the time Apple switched over, 99% of PC users had never heard of a USB port. I know, I was managing a computer store at the time.

Re:PPC macs were awful (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 5 days ago | (#47475065)

Macs didn't "make USB", they forced it on their users while giving a big "fuck you" to all of their old customers running anything else. It's not like the old stuff was horrible either (ADB, SCSI).

The move to USB was a practical matter. One interface for low bandwidth connections: USB. One for high bandwidth ones: FireWire. It was about future proofing than legacy. And it had the effect that it brought down costs when you could use the same peripherals for Mac and PC if the drivers were there.

In the meantime, USB was everywhere on PCs. It just wasn't forced down everyone's throats. Even recent systems with USB3 quietly included will still include interfaces from the :"dark ages".

It also wasn't well supported until way after Apple made their change. Oh it was there. But adoption was poor. Drivers were non-existent or poor. Even Windows didn't have proper USB support til Windows 98. As for the dark ages, yes you can still get MBs with PS/2. I haven't used that port in a decade or more like I haven't used a serial or parallel port. I don't have a need.

Re:PPC macs were awful (1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475143)

I wouldn't exactly call USB support in Windows 98 "proper"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjZQGRATlwA

Re:PPC macs were awful (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 5 days ago | (#47475285)

Compared to Windows 95 it was worlds ahead. But that's not saying much. :P

Re:PPC macs were awful (1)

Jesrad (716567) | 5 days ago | (#47474977)

They also made WiFi. I had it in my 1998 iMac. But I had to wait years until my PC neighbours would follow suit and stop laying cables all throughout the dorm.

Re:PPC macs were awful (2)

confused one (671304) | 5 days ago | (#47474027)

Right, so this is the infamous mac os 7 era right? Powermacs? Where motorola code was emulated to work on PPC? Apple being led by non-jobs? When Macs didnt just needed a restart every 24 hours (like windows did) but would outright ruin there system install every other week? That was the most shitty Apple period ever.

The emulator was key in allowing users to use older 68k apps on the new PowerPC chips, until the software houses released versions built for the PowerPC. A lot of companies (including Apple itself) hurt the platform by delaying their PowerPC update releases. The OS did have some issues; I'm not going to sugar coat it. Apple also took a few journeys down dark alleys with poorly designed hardware during the '90s. Of course the alternative at the time was Windows 3.1, which wasn't a utopian dream either.

Re:PPC macs were awful (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | 5 days ago | (#47474043)

And yet, at the same time, the vast majority of PCs were still using DOS, because Windows was a fucking joke and all the software that ran in Windows was over-bloated garbage.

News flash: All PC options in 1993 sucked.

Re:PPC macs were awful (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 5 days ago | (#47474315)

News flash: All PC options in 1993 sucked.

Ah, but what about the Amiga?

[Guru Meditation]

Re:PPC macs were awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475291)

News flash: All PC options in 1993 sucked.

Compared to today, maybe. But I bought my first Mac Laptop, Powerbook 165, back in fall of 1993 going into college. That thing was great and traveled well. I had to buy a SCSI to Ethernet adapter to connect it to the dorm ethernet with which I got Telnet, Mosaic, Gopher and PERL code to connect to the world. I eventually got seduced by Dell Pentium Pro with Windows NT 4.0 and 17" Trinitron monitor and let the little powerbook go.

Re:PPC macs were awful (3, Informative)

David_Hart (1184661) | 5 days ago | (#47474473)

Right, so this is the infamous mac os 7 era right? Powermacs? Where motorola code was emulated to work on PPC? Apple being led by non-jobs? When Macs didnt just needed a restart every 24 hours (like windows did) but would outright ruin there system install every other week?

That was the most shitty Apple period ever.

Windows NT 4.0 never needed a restart every 24 hours, desktop systems maybe. If you had Windows NT servers that needed reboots that often, then you simply had bad Windows NT admins who didn't know how to resolve device driver, memory, or disk issues.

#StuffLeftiesBelieve (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473741)

Can't send home 50,000 children
Can manage 350,000,000 people's healthcare

#StuffLeftiesBelieve

Re:#StuffLeftiesBelieve (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473755)

The Government is behind 9-11
The Government would never persecute enemies with the IRS

#StuffLeftiesBelieve

And 15 years after that, PowerPC was dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473749)

as far as Apple could throw it. Why? Because

Intel RUELZ!

P.S. At the current rate, IBM will be flying a red flag out front in not too many more years.

Benchmarks (2)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | 5 days ago | (#47473783)

if not better performing in some benchmarks

...some of which could perhaps be better described as"benchmarketing"

Really miss the 68k (3, Insightful)

Crashmarik (635988) | 5 days ago | (#47473835)

A much more elegant architecture than x86. Still have to give Intel credit their manufacturing prowess gave them the edge.

Re:Really miss the 68k (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47473925)

Hear, hear. Back in the 80s, the 68K powered many high-end graphics and engineering workstations, and also multiuser unix boxes. Internally, the 68K architecture (like the 6800 before it) had few if any of the memory addressing kludges that made 86x programming a pain in the ass. Knowing the 68000 was in the original 128K Mac actually made me drool. In some parallel universe, Intel dropped the ball and we're all now using 64-bit descendents of Moto's baby.

Re:Really miss the 68k (1)

slashdice (3722985) | 5 days ago | (#47474107)

Or maybe Intel picked up the ball and used the 68k (as their engineers wanted) for the original IBM PC.

Intel? They're the guys that make memory and strange CPUs for calculators, right?

68k was a neglected platform (1)

sjbe (173966) | 5 days ago | (#47473969)

A much more elegant architecture than x86.

Elegance without performance is ultimately pointless. And the 68k platform seemed to be neglected by Motorola. I don't know if the problem was economic, technical or some other issue but Motorola was clearly falling behind the competition for whatever reason. The x86 architecture is ugly (to put it kindly) but it's generally good enough, fast enough, cheap enough and it benefits heavily from network effects. Plus Intel is without question the industry leader in manufacturing efficiency (including die size) so they have a real cost advantage that is hard to overcome for the types of chips they make.

From what I've read: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474089)

Resting on their laurels. Same as MIPS, SPARC, and the other dead architectures of the day.

While Intel was pushing ahead with R&D on their own process technologies, most of the other big players either had a fraction of the money being placed into process technology or were relying on a third party to provide their process technology needs.

It was only in the last 5-10 years that we say 3rd party foundries start ramping up process technologies to a level just behind Intel, whereas in the past they were anywhere from 3-5 process steppings behind. This was among other things the reason for the sudden improvements in video card tech back around '03 to '05, and the basically flatlining of low to mid range performance since '08 or so (Certain midrange hardware from the '09-10 period is still performance, but not energy competitive with current gen low-mid parts, while the majority of high end improvements have come with a dramatic leap up in energy consumption. While they're faster and more energy efficient than the older cards, the majority of that savings is due to reduced duplication of passives that would've been required for the equivalent performance out of multiple cards, rather than any notable energy efficiency in the gpu itself.)

That said: The popularity of microsoft between '95 and '00 and the incompetence of Apple (and Motorola/IBM), Sun, and SGI during the same period is really what lead to Intel's domination in the later years. If Sun/SGI had marketed 'PC' level hardware with their own OS stacks during that period a whole generation would've grown up ready to migrate to their 'big iron' in the business sector, and if Apple had created a 'color' Mac Classic priced system to cater to the low end (something that they sorely lacked during that period, along with peripherals for their 'proprietary' (Nu)bus) they could've kept a large enough percentage of the market to have more directly competed with Wintel up until now.

Re:From what I've read: (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | 5 days ago | (#47474313)

The early 2000s (and 1999) also saw fierce competition between AMD and Intel. This happened after AMD stole the performance crown from Intel with the release of the original Athlon, which likely pushed Intel to actually make some improvements.

This eventually lead to the Pentium M (and later Core) microarchitecture which Intel has been building upon for the last decade or so.

Re:68k was a neglected platform (1)

dcw3 (649211) | 5 days ago | (#47474103)

Neglected? The Macs that I owned went from 68000 to 68020, 68030, 68040, and then to PowerPC. Motorola continued the 68k line with
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
but, this was eventually dropped in favor of the PPC line.

Re:68k was a neglected platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475151)

The 68040 made the i486 look silly despite having the same transistor budget. 60% greater integer and 200% greater floating point performance, yet Motorola never bothered switching it to a newer manufacturing process so the 486 kept going to higher and higher clock speeds.
Apple made sure to lockout the 68060 from being used to run MacOS by basically breaking every rule in the forward compatibility docs so it would never run on any 68K after the '040.
Thankfully emulator programmers were a lot better than Apple's OS coders, so for many years the fastest classic Mac you could get was an Amiga with an '060 running an emulator. :)

I always wondered about M68K. (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | 5 days ago | (#47474203)

And the 68k platform seemed to be neglected by Motorola.

It sure seems like the M68k architecture could have been pushed forward more. Yeah, it was CISC, not RISC, but it was a very clean CISC. Modern x86 chips are really RISC machines internally, they just have a bunch of translation from the CISC instruction set to the 'real' ISA inside. If nothing else, that approach could have worked for M68k, right? Probably better, since the basic M68k ISA isn't so crufty and ugly like x86.

Re:68k was a neglected platform (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 5 days ago | (#47474283)

the 68k platform seemed to be neglected by Motorola

Nobody really took up the 68060, there was no reason to continue the line. They used a 68k core for the first dragonball [washington.edu] s, though, which appeared in the Palm Pilot. But then they got access to PowerPC cores, and those became the basis of the later dragonballs. There was just no reason to keep 68k alive at that point.

Re:68k was a neglected platform (1)

jedidiah (1196) | 5 days ago | (#47474583)

The problem with this fixation on "performance" is that it was all effectively sabotaged by the bloat of operating systems at that time. The resources required weren't keeping pace with the cost of hardware. It became infeasible for most normal consumers to keep up with what things like OS/2 and Windows were demanding.

It doesn't matter how spiffy your 486 is if it is spending all of it's time swapping.

My own 486 had extremely dissappointing performance when compared to a even mere 68000 until RAM prices became low enough to adequately equip a PC.

Re:68k was a neglected platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474659)

Hey, you do realize that the Motorola 68k architecture is still used today in printers and a lot of embedded devices, right? You also realize that Motorola never neglected anything and had a 68050 and 68060 processor in the pipeline when Apple didn't like their performance progress the three AIM members got together and tried to find a way to break Intel's strangle hold on the desktop processor market. IBM was having success with their POWER RISC architecture in the HPC arena, a lot of high-end workstation class machines from SGI, SUN and HP all used RISC chips so Apple jumped on the bandwagon with Motorola as a primarily a fab partner and did a little bit with design as well as Apple. The reason for choosing IBM was the cost of the processors was going to be cheaper because they required smaller dies and less complex designs. The same move was made when Apple departed the AIM alliance and went with Intel processors in their machines. There was absolutely no emotion involved in these decisions and they were based completely on cold, hard numbers that reflected where Apple wanted their products to be in a four to six year projected time. When you make business decisions you choose the best available at the time. For a time that was Motorola for Apple, for a time it was IBM, and now it's Intel. In four to six years it may change again. IBM and Intel didn't "save" Apple when Apple CHOSE to change their processor architecture, incur an immense cost in software redevelopment at each step, and continue to grow their market share. IBM already had plans to make a lower-end POWER-based processor for a line of non-mainframe servers, and Intel was already making the Core Duo when Apple went shopping again. If anyone saved Apple it was the people making the change decisions internally.

Re:Really miss the 68k (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | 5 days ago | (#47474051)

Intel has always been the absolute best in the world at semiconductor manufacturing. It's their lithography that has kept them in the game through various design missteps (and disasters).

much more elegant (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | 5 days ago | (#47475049)

I'd still rather have a good blaster at my side

Thanks a lot, IBM (-1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 5 days ago | (#47473933)

And now, 25 years later, we've got nerdy hipsters with bad tattoos and goatees clogging up coffee shops with their Macbooks, using up bandwidth downloading Apple updates, nursing small lattes for six hours while they tweet about their miserable lives.

At least now we know who to blame.

Re:Thanks a lot, IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474087)

using up bandwidth downloading Apple updates

Because no other OS gets shloads of updates, ever. Certainly not Windows, nor Linux.

Fuck off, douchebag.

Re:Thanks a lot, IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474125)

Envy is a cruel mistress.

What about ARM (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474077)

I'd suggest it was ARM more than IBM that saved Apple

They'd still be on Power if not for two things. (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | 5 days ago | (#47474279)

G5s ran too hot for notebooks. IBM's manufacturing capacity for Power/PPC cores outside its own servers and workstations was eaten up by Microsoft for its XBox line. Apple was waiting too much on inventory. They switched to Intel not because their chips were more powerful, but because their chips were more available and could be used more flexibly.

They'd still be on Power if not for two things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474935)

I've read, though don't remember the reference, that originally IBM wanted to use the 6809 CPU.

IBM: Hi, is this motorolla?
Moto: Yes
IBM: Hi, this is IBM, we'd like to use the 6809 in our next project.
Moto: Great! Our unit pricing is $N in quantities of 1000.
IBM: Great! Can you set aside capacity for 100,000?
Moto: Units? Next year?
IBM: No. Pallets of 1000, per month.
Moto: (gulp) You want a million chips a month?
IBM: Well, probably not the first couple months, but yes.
Moto: Sorry, we just don't have the capacity to make those in that volume, and wouldn't be able to for at least a year.
IBM: Okay. Thanks anyhow.
Intel: Grove speaking
IBM: I'd like to use the 8088 for my next project

The comments... (1)

Brandon Pen (3751893) | 5 days ago | (#47474341)

So far most of the comments I am reading have to do with either an elaborate of the article, or an incorrect reinvention if history. Amazing!

I remember the good old days of the motorola 68000 (1)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47474425)

I remember the good olds days of theMotorola 68000 on Atari 520 ST and of the 68030 on the Atari Falcon 030. Would it be possible, today, with moderne technologies, to create a 68060 at 4 GHZ and a cool computer and operating system like a M68K Linux machine, not too costly ? The 68000 was so easy and so cool to program ! .

Stupid Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 5 days ago | (#47475199)

There were 3 initiatives that Apple and IBM agreed to. Two failed right away. The third, use of the PowerPC chip, lasted a while - until it failed too and Apple wound up on Intel like everyone else. And all it cost them was a couple extra re-writes of their OS. So it's a bit of a stretch to say that IBM "saved" Apple. I would think probably the purchase of Next, rehiring of Jobs and iPod are what really turned things around.

68K vs x86 - Apple vs IBM PC (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | 5 days ago | (#47475213)

The original PC, in 1981 ran on the 8088 - an 8/16 bit hybrid chip. By the time the Mac was released in 1989, the 486 was the chip of choice for the IBM PC and, more importantly, the clones.

Apple had a history and relationship with Motorola with the 6502 used in its Apple I and II lineup. When the Mac was released, the 68000 was a superior chip to the 386. And, there was the Apple vs PC war going on which helped solidify the choice - Apple was distancing itself from PCs anyway possible.

The 68K was a superior architecture to the x86 from a programming perspective. It's handling of memory was superior as well and was a dream to code in comparison to x86. But, frankly, it was easier to squeeze more performance out of the 486 and Pentium chips. Throw in a x87 co-processor, and my original PC seemed to outperform my original 68K based Mac when it came to number crunching despite the PC running at 4mhz vs the 16mhz 68 (yes, mhz). Even when I wrote assembly code (and, I was pretty good back then), the x86 code was still faster than comparable 68K code. Apple released subsequent versions of the Mac with the 68010/68020/68030 chips. But, so much was being done in software vs hardware on the Mac, especially, graphics, that the Mac seemed slow in comparison. The open architecture of the PC allowed 3rd party graphics cards and add-ons.

  The Mac, with it's closed architecture, did not permit real 3rd party boards (unless you wanted to open the Mac and do a piggy-back board) until the Mac II and NuBus. NuBus never caught on - mainly, because Apple market share and developer constraints made it a real PITA to create NuBus cards. NuBus was pretty cool, though and was true plug'n play even before PC's got that ability.

At this same time, there was the debate over superiority of CISC vs RISC chips. Intel was CISC. Motorola stopped improving the 68K and focused on RISC. Apple went with RISC and, together with IBM and Motorola, developed the RISC PowerPC chip. It was, likely, easier, to port the 68K firmware and software to the PPC vs an x86 and it avoided the nightmare of admitting that IBM got it right when the went with i

Dwindling market share for the Mac (they still didn't permit clones to use their OS), heat (PowerPC was HOT and not suitable for laptops), and cost (x86 was cheaper than PowerPC, period and being produced by multiple vendors - nobody else made the Motorola designs), and Motorola doing much to improve the heat, power consumption and performance vs x86 took Apple down the x86 path.

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