Proteron: Standing on the shoulders of giants
Tuesday, Oct 28, 2003
Sam, I read your open memo at the Proteron site today, and it left me with questions.

I've been an avid Mac user since I got my 128K Mac in 1984. As a former helpline staffer at the Berkeley Macintosh Users Group, writer for MacWEEK Magazine, marketing assistant for Dantz Development, and software developer for Casady & Greene, I completely understand the plight of "the little guy", but in this particular example I feel that your venom is unwarranted.

Your open memo is based on the claim, reiterated on the LiteSwitch X home page, that "LiteSwitch X was the original application switcher for the Mac OS". This is both 'disappointing' and 'dishonest'. The first application switcher for the Mac OS was "Switcher" written by Andy Hertzfeld (with special thanks given to John Markoff and Bud Tribble) while under the employ of Apple Computer in 1985. Apple pioneered the technology you're claiming they pilfered, and they did it when the Mac OS was barely one year old. Over the intervening 18 years countless "little guys," Proteron among them, have come out with application switchers building on Apple's foundation. Surprisingly, very few gave any credit to Andy, John, Bud or Apple for the original innovation.

While I agree that Sherlock likely crossed the line in replicating Watson functionality, I don't feel the same sympathy for Proteron. On the aforementioned LiteSwitchX page you scream in 48-point letters (using Apple's corporate font, no less), "Dear Apple: You forgot some important features" in OS X 10.2. Beneath this accusation you simultaneously berate Apple for remembering them in OS X 10.3. I'd suggest not using the 'gloat' and 'sympathy' cards at the same time. They tend to cancel each other out.

LiteSwitch X is a very elegant product, but it has clearly borrowed more core functionality from those applications that came before it than it adds to the table. As long as LiteSwitch doesn't violate patents and look-and-feel copyrights that's fine, but it's poor form to cry foul when someone does the same to you. If, on the other hand, you feel that Apple has impinged on your intellectual property rights then I would suggest pursuing legal action against them. Writing an 'open memo to Steve' that you know will go unanswered seems to me to be little more than a 'mouse who roared' ploy for attention.

I noticed that you've recently released LiteSwitch X 2.1 with support for Panther. I wish you the utmost success with it.

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