The dangers of separating the easy stuff from the hard stuff
Monday, Jan 16, 2012
Reading about Samsung's newly announced effort to combine their 'Bada' mobile OS with Intel's 'Tizen' mobile OS in an effort to reduce their dependency on Android, I was reminded of Taligent, Apple and IBM's joint venture in the mid-90s to create an alternative to Microsoft Cairo and NeXTSTEP. The situations aren't really the same, but Wikipedia offered up a real gem of how Taligent came to be in the first place. It's something all software developers should keep in mind:
During the initial planning for the operating system to follow System 4.1, new ideas were written down on index cards. Ideas that were simple and could be included in a new version of the existing software were written on blue colored cards, those that were more advanced or took longer to implement were written on pink cards. A new operating system, code-named Pink, was planned based on the ideas written on the pink index cards. … In addition to running programs written for Pink, the system was to be capable of running existing Mac OS programs.
Sounds like a good idea, except:
The problem was that System 7 was so large in memory terms that it would barely fit onto existing Macintosh models, meaning that if Pink were going to run Mac OS programs by emulating System 7, it would have no room left over for itself.
And inevitably:
Meanwhile, corporate infighting at Apple doomed Pink. To those working on Blue, Pink was seen as a project that might steal mind share from their own work. As the turf war grew, engineers started to abandon Pink to work on Blue, and whole projects were brought into one group or another in a flurry of empire-building.
The whole project was eventually spun off as Taligent, an OS with a completely different purpose, and no longer part of the evolution of MacOS at all. So much for the pink cards. Go ahead and read the whole Wikipedia entry though, and think about the dangers of equating 'easy' and 'hard' with 'now' and 'later'. Also, apologies to those of you who read this during Wikipedia's SOPA blackout.
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Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
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