August 22-31: "Welcome, IBM. Seriously," Too Late to License
Published October 31st, 2004

The week of August 22nd through the 31st is a busy, busy ten days in Apple history. First of all, we have Apple's infamous "Welcome, IBM. Seriously" full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. This was in response to last week's introduction of the IBM Personal Computer. Hubris or naivety? Check the entry below for more details.

This week in 1990, Apple once again almost made a significant change in its business models. VP Dan Eilers made his second pitch for Apple to license the Mac OS to third-party manufacturers and/or port the Mac OS to Intel. Such a move would have made Apple into a much, much different company, and it would have had Apple competing directly and squarely with Microsoft, a company that could run circles around Apple in terms of business. Such a change was not to be, however, as Michael Spindler convinced CEO John Sculley that it was "too late to license."

Of course, the ironic thing there is that 4 years later, now-CEO Michael Spindler put into action a new licensing scheme. Irony, irony, irony, irony.

For more on this issue, including Bill Gates' unsuccessful attempt to assist Apple in licensing the Mac OS in 1985, read Owen's Apple Confidential 2.0.

One year later, in 1991, the Mac Portable (a.k.a. the Mac Luggable) made history by sending the first e-mail from space to an earth-side NASA computer. That's pretty cool, no matter how you look at it.

Back to darker news, it was this week in 1993 that a US court finally and officially dismissed Apple's copyright infringement lawsuit against Microsoft for Windows. Oops.

It was, then, perhaps no accident that this week in 1995, two years after that final dismissal, that Microsoft released Windows 95. Funny how these kinds of things work out.

You can find more information on many of the entries below in Owen Linzmayer's excellent Apple Confidential 2.0. The other entries can be found in TMO's archives, and we link to articles whenever we can.

August 22-31

1981: Apple runs full-page "Welcome, IBM. Seriously" advertisement in The Wall Street Journal in response to IBM's PC introduction two weeks prior. Depending upon who you asked, Apple was either smug or naïve for welcoming the pin-striped corporate behemoth into the market that Apple saw as its birthright. For its part, Apple was trying to position itself as the alternative to IBM, which it rightly assumed would soon dominate the market. Management wanted the buying public to think of Apple or IBM for computers, just as they thought of Coke or Pepsi for colas and Avis or Hertz for rental cars.

The full text of the add reads:

Welcome, IBM. Seriously. Welcome to the most exciting and important marketplace since the computer revolution began 35 years ago. And congratulations on your first personal computer. Putting real computer power in the hands of the individual is already improving the way people work, think, learn, communicate, and spend their leisure hours. Computer literacy is fast becoming as fundamental a skill as reading or writing. When we invented the first personal computer system, we estimated that over 140,000,000 people worldwide could justify the purchase of one, if only they understood its benefits. Next year alone, we project that well over 1,000,000 will come to that understanding. Over the next decade, the growth of the personal computer will continue in logarithmic leaps. We look forward to responsible competition in the massive effort to distribute this American technology to the world. And we appreciate the magnitude of your commitment. Because what we are doing is increasing social capital by enhancing individual productivity. Welcome to the task. Apple.

1984: Sara Nadine Wozniak is born to Apple founder Steve Wozniak and his second wife Candice Clark. Sara is the second child for the couple, joining brother Jesse John, who was born two years prior on the eve of the first US Festival.

1990: Dan Eilers, VP of strategy and corporate development, submits a 112-page confidential document to Apple's executive staff recommending a "discontinuous jump." Five years prior, Eilers unsuccessfully argued that Apple should immediately port the Mac OS to Intel-based computers and develop an aggressive plan to license the Mac OS. Now in 1990 he proposes four options for Apple: licensing only the Mac OS, licensing both the OS and the hardware, creating a second Macintosh brand, or most radical of all, spinning off a small company code-named Macrosoft with the express purpose of porting the Mac OS to the Intel processor. Again ignoring Eilers' advice, COO Michael Spindler convinces CEO John Sculley that, "It's too late to license. It doesn't matter anymore. The opportunity is past."

1991: The first true e-mail message from space is sent by the crew of the space shuttle STS-43 Atlantis using a Mac Portable and specially configured AppleLink software. The shuttle crew's message: "Hello Earth! Greetings from the STS-43 Crew. This is the first AppleLink from space. Having a GREAT time, wish you were here,...send cyro and RCS! Hasta la vista, baby,...we'll be back!"

1993: The US District Court dismisses Apple's copyright infringement case against Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. Apple would eventually file an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as well as file a petition with the US Supreme Court, asking the justices to review the case.

1994: Folk singer Bob Dylan sues Apple for trademark infringement, seeking to bar the company from using Bob Dylan's name in conjunction with any new software product. Apple had been developing a programming language originally intended for the Newton that it was calling Dylan, which stood for "dynamic language." Shortly after the suit was filed, Apple reached a confidential out-of-court settlement and obtained the rights to trademark Dylan.

Apple briefly released Dylan for 68000-based Macs in the fall of 1995, then soon abandoned the effort.

1995: Microsoft releases Windows 95, its most Mac-like operating system to date, in one of the largest computer product launches in history. The following day, Apple ships the PowerBook 5300. Although it was Apple's first laptop with a PowerPC CPU, today it is best remembered for two preproduction units that caught fire, resulting in a costly and embarrassing recall.

2002: Apple releases Mac OS X 10.2 (a.k.a. Jaguar) featuring Mail, iChat, Address Book, Inkwell, QuickTime 6 with MPEG-4, improved Universal Access, enhanced Finder, Sherlock 3, Quartz Extreme, and Rendezvous.