Archive for January, 2010

Card Sorting Software Price Reductions

Friday, January 29th, 2010

SynCaps V1 is now free. V2 has been reduced to £150. See our SynCaps comparison chart for more information on their differences.

Happy Birthday Macintosh (or why Apple was so late to its own party)

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Around 25 years ago I was doing some consultancy work for Xerox here in the UK. We needed one of those new-fangled graphical environments for an application I was designing – an interactive SGML editor that could be used for electronically marking up content (predating HTML development software by about 15 years, but much, much simpler).

At the time, there weren’t that many GUIs around. Windows version 1 was already late and so not yet available. Apple had recently launched the Macintosh, which looked promising, albeit with a tiny, tiny screen even for the mid-1980’s. But here’s the interesting part of the story: when I rang Apple in the UK to enquire how we might develop software for the Mac I was told “you would need to buy a Lisa to write the software and download it to the Mac”. The Lisa was the fairly unsuccessful precursor to the Mac and cost around USD $10,000 (which Wikipedia informs me is around $22,000 at current value). And that was in addition to the cost of the Mac in the first place (around $2,500). I asked if there were any discounts or other incentives for software developers. The Apple UK spokesman said that they didn’t really want to encourage people to write software for the Mac. They were going to do it all themselves! Now this might just have been the UK office not really understanding the market, but Apple struggled for years in proportion of Mac sales relative to Wintel (Windows/Intel) machines. Maybe deep down it took Apple a long time to realize it really did need to encourage third parties to develop for their machines.

Oh, and I did eventually choose a working graphical environment for my prototype. It was called GEM from Digital Research and ran on top of MS-DOS. However, Apple sued DR because of apparent similarities with the Mac, forcing changes that effectively crippled the product. It was sold on some games machines (like the Atari 520ST and siblings) but eventually faded away in the 1990s.