Thursday, May 17, 2007

Do you need an operating system?

INTERVIEWER: Your whole approach seems counter to the industry trend to make bigger computers to accommodate bigger programs...

RASKIN: Yes. Instead of saying bigger, bigger, we’re saying better, better. When I told our investors about this project, I said, “We’re going to have a word processor, information retrieval, and telecommunications package with only fifteen commands and 64 bytes of code.” All the other companies were talking hundreds of commands and hundreds of bytes of code. The company (Information Appliance) was surprised that it came down to five commands. It’s the only project I’ve ever been on that got simpler with time instead of bigger or more complicated.

We have a whole valley full of people talking UNIX versus MS-DOS. What do you need any of that for? Just throw it all out; get rid of all that nonsense. Maybe you need it for computer scientists, but for people who want to get something done, no. Do you need an operating system? No. We threw out that whole concept. Applications like VisiOn, Gem, and Windows are just cosmetic treatments on hidden operating systems, but we have no operating system beneath this. You know what happens when you apply heavy cosmetics to something? You get that heavy cosmetic look.

So here is a program that runs on an ancient Apple IIe, a one-megahertz processor, and from the user’s point of view it runs faster than IBM, Macintosh, mainframes, SuperVax, or anything.

Jef Raskin
Programmers At Work

Jef Raskin’s Wiki Page

Raskin’s company, Information Appliance,
never earned him great fame or fortune.
(Raskin passed away in 2005.)
The phrase and concept, however, have become part of
the contemporary high tech world.

Information Appliance Wiki Page

1 comment:

Angeline said...

I'm quite sorry, but these kind of computer references are way over my head. As a home computer user, really the only thing that matters is that the operating system works. Consumers usually do not look into the necessity of an operating system (which definitely is wrong to blindly accept things. I'm guilty). We just trust that the latest version on the market will meet our demands or being quick and efficient.

Anyway, I've been wanting to somehow tell you for the past month how much I appreciate your blog. I enjoy the diversity and quality of your entries and look forward to them.

I was at the library this morning and when I saw you, I was intensely pondering whether or not I should say anything to you. I didn't want to scare you or anything or get in your way. Since I've been working at the library, you've always said hello to me, and I appreciate a friendly patron. For some reason you always seemed familiar.

I didn't know until a few weeks ago that you were "the guy who writes blogs about the library." Well, I don't think you did or said anything wrong. They made it sound serious. Don't worry about it. Keep utilizing the library and keep blogging. You're amazing.