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This Week in Apple History
by Owen Linzmayer
& Bryan Chaffin

March 1-6: Gassée Born, Homebrew Starts, Raskin Out
March 1st, 2004

Last week, it was Steve Jobs' birthday, but this week we can celebrate the birthday of Jean-Louis Gassée, who was born this week in 1944. The flamboyant Mr. Gassée was a pivotal figure in the ouster of Steve Jobs in 1985, and was also a key influence that kept John Sculley from licensing the Mac OS in the late 1980s.

Happy birthday, Mssr. Gassée!

Note that it was also this week, but in 1990, that Mssr. Gassée departed Apple.

Ironically enough, Steve Sakoman, someone instrumental in the Newton's development, left with Mssr. Gassée, but returned to Apple this week 13 years later as a vice president.

It was this week in 1975 that the very cool Homebrew Computer Club had its first meeting. We can thank that organization for the eventual creation of Apple computer, so let's wish them a happy birthday, too!

On the other hand, it was this week in 1982 that the father of the Mac, Jef Raskin, left Apple, almost two years before the Mac was actually released. He and Steve Jobs were known to clash quite often over the direction and purpose of the Mac.

In 1997, Apple began pounding nails in the coffin of cloning, though nobody realized it at the time. The company renamed Mac OS 7.7, which was still in development, to Mac OS 8. This made every Mac licensee's contract with Apple as obsolete as the Apple][, as they only had licenses for Mac OS 7.x, and Apple was not going to be licensing Mac OS 8.x.

Lastly, it was this week just last year that word first leaked out that Apple was working on some sort of new "music network." That, of course, was true, and it was later that year that Apple launched the iTunes Music Store.

This week in Apple History:

March 1-6

1944: Jean-Louis F. Gassée was born in Paris, France. The flamboyant Frenchman would later join Apple's European division, warn CEO John Sculley of Steve Jobs' intention to mount a coup, lead Apple's R&D division, oppose licensing the Mac, quit Apple, found Be Inc., and come "this close" to selling BeOS to Amelio, only to lose out to his old rival, Steve Jobs at NeXT.

1975: The first Homebrew Computer Club meeting took place in the Menlo Park, California, garage of Gordon French. Steve Jobs and Steve Wonziak became Homebrew regulars, and Woz went on to create what would become the Apple I to impress his fellow club members.

1982: Jef Raskin, the man who originally started the Macintosh project at Apple in 1979, resigns after Steve Jobs insists he wants to control not only the Mac's hardware development, but also its software, leaving only the Mac's documentation under Raskin's purview.

1987: Apple breaks with its "closed box" tradition with the introduction of the expandable Mac II (US$3,00) and Mac SE (US$2,900).

1990: Jean-Louis Gassée announces his intention to leave Apple after CEO Sculley hands off his worldwide manufacturing and marketing units to newly-appointed COO Michael Spindler. In protest to Gassée's treatment, Newton project leader Steve Sakoman resigns.

1994: Apple ships the MessagePad 100 (US$499) and 110 (US$599), the second generation of Newton personal digital assistants.

1997: Apple renames Mac OS 7.7 to Mac OS 8. In hindsight, the move was strictly a political one designed to end licensing, which newly returned Steve Jobs had decided was going to destroy Apple. Apple's licensees (Mac cloners) had licenses only for Mac OS X 7.x, so with a pen stroke, Apple rips the rug out from its many licensees. It was also first whispered this week that Cyberdog was going to be put to sleep.

1999: Former Apple exec Lamar Potts joins the board of directors at Be Inc. Mr. Potts was formerly in charge of licensing at Apple before the company ceased its licensing operations. The successful recruiting of yet another former Apple exec by Be is seen as a score of sorts for the company in some circles, as Be had earlier been rejected by Apple in favor of Steve Jobs' NeXT.

2003: The San Jose Mercury News announces that Apple will launch a new "music network," something that Billboard Magazine then confirms. Apple actually ends up doing so later that year. Steve Sakoman rejoins Apple as a vice president, 13 years after he left with Jean-Louise Gassée to form Be.

is the author of Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company, published by No Starch Press earlier this year (US$13.97 - Amazon).

is the editor of The Mac Observer, and was egged on, in-part, in his obsession with the Mac by Owen's first book, The Mac Bathroom Reader.

You can send your comments directly to Owen and Bryan, or you can also post your comments below.

This Week in Apple History Archives



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