Raskin Remembers "Computers by the Millions"

Source: Jef Raskin e-mail (containing memo from Jef Raskin to Tom Whitney, 3 April 1980), undated.
Location: Jef Raskin Papers, Stanford University Library Department of Special Collections.

Computers by the Millions, An Apple Document from 1979

In late 1979, while getting the Macintosh project started, I wrote an article about the implications of manufacturing and using millions of computers, looking ahead at what an order of magnitude or two in sales would do to the industry. At Apple Chairman Mike Markkula's request I did not submit it for publication, and it was made a confidential internal report. It was released in 1982 as "Computers by the Millions," in SIGPC Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 2.

In my files I also found a memo from 1980 that refers to Computers by the Millions (see item 12.) This memo, addressed to the late Tom Whitney, then head of engineering and to whom I reported, also gives a slice-of-life view of a young company.

From: Jef Raskin
To: Tom Whitney
Date: 3 April 80
Re: Bi-weekly report

These past two weeks seem to have been particularly fruitful:

1. The meeting with Noritake electronics took place, as covered in a previous memo. The DM256x26 display, erroneously stated to cost $150 in quantities of one in that memo, will actually cost $242. I apologize for the error. I have started the ordering process for the sample.

2. Three candidates for a programming position have been interviewed.

3. Starting with a tutorial session with me last Saturday, Burrell Smith has been coming up to speed in Pascal. He is writing a program to calculate transfer functions in passive circuits of up to 16 nodes. The program solves the simultaneous equations without excessive precision loss by Gaussian elimination. Such a program is needed to solve the 7-pole filter required for Justice's modem design.

In the process Smith has discovered a bug in the ATAN function, which he has duly reported to Haynes. [Burrell Smith did the hardware design of the earliest Macintosh models. He later helped develop Apple s first laser printer and was a founder of Radius.]

4. I am pleased to report that Byte magazine has placed my article in the April issue in the lead position. Thus it appears only a few pages after the Apple ad. I also received a pleasant letter from Hal Roach of the CECC, stating that they found my presentation at that conference effective and enjoyable.

5. According to their advertising, AMI will be second-sourcing the 6809E. I have tried to contact them, but my calls have not yet been returned. [The 6809 was the first processor used in the Mac project.]

6. A more unified design for the Macintosh software is well under way. Tom Malloy is quite interested, and has made some very valuable suggestions. Bruce Daniels is arranging for me to present the design to the Lisa Group, and John Couch plans to attend as well. [The Mac and Lisa were parallel projects, and influenced and helped each other on a continual basis.]

7. With regard to the Macintosh disk interface, Smith is investigating the Interdesign MUA undedicated array. His current thinking leans toward a three- chip approach, with Justice's analog read/write chip, followed by an MUA to handle the random logic and some analog functions, driven by a shift- register/PROM state machine.

8. Ron Hochsprung, of the Lisa Group, has considerable 6809 experience, and I will be discussing with Bruce Daniels the possibility of Hochsprung's modifying the TLA assembler (under Pascal) for us. This is not an extensive job, and it will be up to Daniels whether he can spare any time for this-- considering how critical Lisa software is at this point, I will not be disappointed if it does not come about.

9. I have been testing Wozniak's 1:1 interleave, and cannot find any problems with it. This represents a most pleasant improvement in the Apple II Pascal system. [Apple founder Steve Wozniak was improving disk access to Pascal: we used Apple II s as development platforms.]

10. M&R enterprises has loaned me their SUPRTERM board (equivalent to Mauro's board). It interfaces instantly with Pascal, and can successfully replace a SOROC. Aside from its poor hardware design (too many SSI chips, very high power drain, 5V supply boost hack), this kind of board can cut down considerably on engineering equipment expense--and furniture expense as well. I will be testing some other brands as well. I am supplying the results of these tests to publications. [The SOROC was a dumb terminal.]

11. I am reviewing all Pubs document designs, and giving them feedback. This process has been formalized recently, and is working well. In addition I am cooperating closely with Bruce Daniels and have promised to give him comments on any Lisa documents he chooses to show me. In the last two weeks I have worked on Stein's OS, and am looking at Franklin's Query Processor.

12. A lot of feedback has come in on the "Computers by the Millions" draft, with all readers apparently enjoying it, with the exception of Steve Jobs. Many substantive comments were received, which will help guide my thinking about Macintosh. These comments will eventually result in a second draft. Markkula said that it should not be published, in order to not get our competition thinking in these directions, and that I should distribute the revamped version around the company.

Document created on 20 June 2000;