MACS AREN'T OPEN
The truth about the PC's and Macs and their "Openness".
To believe that the
PC's are more "Open" than Macs, one must overlook the entire
history of computers.
Computer History - 101
PC's were created by IBM and were never intended to be
"Open". In fact IBM sued the first few people that made
clones, and tried to prevent it at all costs. IBM's
ROM's (BIOS) was intentionally copyrighted and
CLOSED! Apple was just much better at writing a good system,
that was much larger (more complex, and harder to copy).
Apple is also the first mainstream computer company to
voluntarily license it ROM and make clones.
DOS was not open, it was just so anachronistic
and basic that anyone could write a DOS. And a few people
did. MS kept driving the competitors out of business by NOT
documenting things well, changing things subtly (when they
could) and breaking the competition, and adding unusual
behaviors that were difficult to duplicate. Then when
someone was still beating them (DR-DOS) they went and
intentionally warned users if they were running
Windows on top of someone elses DOS - that it
might not work, even though they knew full well that it
worked just fine. See the
DR-DOS article for more information about this.
Apple created lots of standards and was very open about
- When Apple created a keyboard bus (ADB) that allowed
users to have multiple keyboards, mice and joysticks
hooked up at the same time - they openly tried to make it
a standard - and it is used by more than just Apple.
(NeXT, SUN, SGI and others did use it). The Macs ADB
connector is far superior to the PC's connectors - but it
may have cost a few cents more, and PC designers don't
value value, they value cheap. PC's have a proprietary
keyboard connector that just happens to be popular - but
is not really "open", it just was not patentable. The
Macs have a more open connector, and more versatile, but
used in less total machines.
- When Apple needed to add hard drives they went out
and used the SCSI "standard" for connecting drives and
other devices. PC's used proprietary schemes like MFM or
IDE. SCSI is much more "Open" than MFM or IDE - it is
also much more powerful -- but there are more PC's (and
IDE-Drives) so people think that is the same as open. So
Macs also use IDE.
- When Apple was creating an expansion card bus for the
MacII's, they looked around and found a very superior BUS
scheme created by TI (Texas Instruments) and used in some
mini's and high-end micro computers called NuBus. Apple
adopted that standard which was far more versatile AND
more open than the PC's proprietary ISA or EISA slots.
NuBus supported PnP from the beginning. But ISA slots are
ugly (but common), so people call them "open" while
ignoring the standard.
- When Apple was looking to replace the NuBus slots
with something more powerful, they created a superior Bus
(PCB+ or something) but they also compared it to what
else was out there. They found that PCI was nearly as
good, and was going to be made a standard - so they
jumped on board. They went with a standard, and helped
define a standard way to deal with PCI cards. But PC's
didn't use the Open-Drivers, and instead stick with their
- Apple has always used "SIMMS, DIMMS" and other
Memory when possible. PC's used chips and less
"open" memory for far longer.
- Apple was one of the first to use RS-422 serial
ports. PC's used RS-232, but then they use at least 6
different connectors - some standard.
- Apple was one of the first companies to jump on
- Apple jumped on board with CORBA and SOM (DSOM) - MS
made proprietary and inferior solutions like COM and
The biggest problem with Apple and standards is that
Apple is often the pioneer. So they have had to create many
standards because there was nothing in existence when they
started. Sometimes the industry has followed, sometimes it
has not - but often Apple was being open - it was the
industry that was not. Some standards Apple created, or
helped to or tried to, include -
- Apple created 1394 - FireWire. Which the rest of the
industry is coming on board.
- QuickRing - a fast secondary bus scheme used on high
- Versit / GeoPort - the fast serial in the back of
- 66MHz PCI - Apple is on the committee
- OpenBoot standard for PCI cards - of course PC's
don't support the standard.
- DYLAN language and environment
- Object Pascal with Nicholas Virth
- Bento (Cross platform document architecture)
- A number of other committees to try to promote many
So it is not Apple that has been closed - they have tried
to follow when they could, and lead when they must. But it
is the pioneers that take the arrows, and Apple has always
been a pioneer - trying to help our industry evolve. PC's
usually go with their own proprietary solutions - but
because the size of the PC industry generates its own
momentum, and people often follow - then they call those
proprietary solutions "standards" -- but then again many
Communist countries call themselves "People's