A Decade of MyMac.com – 1995 – 2005 Part 2
The start of our thirteenth issue was huge for me: we had a cover artist! It was May 1996, and Mike Gorman had agreed to create covers for our digital magazine. The first was perfect, showing a fit, tan guy that said “end of summer 1995” Next to the same guy, now pale-white, bloated, and sickly looking, with the caption “Beginning of Summer 1996 – Too much AOL!” It was great!
One of the problems people had with our magazine was the time it took to download. Tiny by today’s standards, our 13th issue was 1MB in size. For some AOL users, that could mean a half-hour download! Way too long, especially if they were a subscriber and I emailed the issue to them. So in June 1996, we started a text-only edition, and it had moderate success for a year or so before we cancelled that version. It was the same magazine, only no pretty pictures and about a tenth or less the size.
During 1996, all the rumor and speculation was about IBM buying Apple. Reader Casey Levegue actually made up an IBMAC logo just in case it actually happened, which we printed in our May 1996 issue. Of course, as we all know, if there were any talks between Apple and IBM, they went nowhere fast. Funny how, nine years later, it is IBM who has sold off their consumer computer division, and it is Apple rolling out new award winning products, has a diverse product line, and is super-profitable. Remember, back in 1996-1997, things looked bleak indeed for Apple.
It was also during this time period that Apple Computer’s board of directors hired fellow board member Gil Amileo as CEO. Gil would last a little over a year, but be remembered forever as the man who brought back Steve Jobs to Apple when he led Apple in the purchase of NeXT Computer. It would also be seven years later when I would actually talk to Mr. Gil Amileo on the phone, more than once, about his writing for this very website. While he agreed at the time, it sadly never happened. Often his reign at Apple has been misunderstood by the Mac faithful, and I really wanted to give him his due. Perhaps someday when the time is right and his schedule opens up more.
Four new writers joined the MyMac ranks in June 1996 for our fourteenth issue. They were Eric Manchester, John Clark, Dustin Roberts, and Pawel Pokutycki from Poland. To this day, only Dustin Roberts is still in contact with me. I have no idea where the others have disappeared.
Our June 1996 issue was also the first issue not created on my lowly Performa 410, as I moved into a Performa 6300CD. The speed difference was amazing, and I honestly thought that the power and speed of this computer would last me years and years. It had a 100MHz PowerPC 603e processor, 16MB of RAM, 1.2GB hard drive, and a built-in CD-ROM drive! What more could I ever want, right?
Our fair magazine could also be found on The MACsonian CD-ROM, a bimonthly CD-ROM publication. While the CD-ROM publication folded soon thereafter, I am fairly certain the presence of My Mac on it was purely coincidental. Hey, we are still here after all!
Also hard to imagine today, but the IBM processors that the Macintosh was using back in 1996 was actually faster in MHz than what the Pentiums were capable of doing. Our July 1996 issue sported a running Power PC chip easily outpacing the Pentium.
It was August of 1996, our sixteenth issue, when reviewer and My Mac Magazine icon creator Adam Karneboge took over as web master for the site. It would still be a while before we were able to rescue our mymac.com domain name after our leaving web master took so long to transfer it over, but at least we were back on the Internet! To this day, Adam is still working on the site; only now as part of a web design team.
Today, many Mac faithful think of Safari as Apple’s first and only web browser. Many do not remember, or were not around at the time, CyberDog. CyberDog was actually Apple’s first foray into creating a web browser, which Adam reviewed in our August 1996 issue. At the time CyberDog was more than a browser. It would also FTP, email, and used an easy to use finder interface. It was created using another abandoned Apple technology, the much-ballyhooed OpenDoc.
In September 1996, we were talking about the rampant rumors of Apple and Be getting together to create Mac OS 8, Apple’s next generation OS (which would not materialize until years later as Mac OS X). The talks, as we all know now, never went anywhere for a variety of reasons. First, it was rumored that Be Inc.’s President and CEO, Jean-Louis Gassee, was asking way too much for the company. It was also rumored that the BeOS was not as far along technology-wise as Apple was led to believe. Apple would later go on to purchase Steve Jobs’ NeXT Computer company.
Our cover for the November 1996 issue paid homage to Power Computing, a Macintosh clone maker who was at the time simply beating Apple in the speed wars. One of the problems at the time was that the clones, with a license from Apple allowing them to clone the Macintosh, were supposed to help grow the Macintosh market share by growing their business in areas where Apple was not doing well. For instance, UMAX was selling cheap Mac clones that would appeal to the low-end computer market. Power Computing, on the other hand, went after Apple’s cash cow, the high-end market. Rather than growing the Macintosh market share, all Power Computing really did was cannibalize Apple’s own share of the existing Mac market. Their computers were hands-down faster than the high-end Apple machines at the time, as well as being cheaper. They would challenge Apple until Steve Jobs returned to the CEO roll and cancelled all licensing agreements, thus effectively putting Power Computing, Inc. out of business.
In December 1996, we welcomed new writer Barbara Bell Velazquez to the staff and her new “The Starting Line” column in which she would give advice for new Mac users. It was a great monthly column that was brilliantly written for the new user, and we received quite a lot of positive email on it.
At this point in time, the end of 1996 and the start of 1997, our issues were getting larger and larger every month. As such, editor Russ Walkowich needed help editing each issue, so a new copy-editor was brought into the fold, Jim Moravec. Jim also did some writing, but his efforts on the editing side were mostly unknown to our readers and staff. His involvement was monumental is bringing up the quality of the magazine. Jim would work in relative obscurity for years with My Mac Magazine, leaving around the same time our downloadable issues gave way to the website only edition.
Producing each monthly issue was a huge task. At the time, the process went something like this: the writers wrote their articles and emailed them to me, usually by the 10th of every month. I would then do a preliminary edit on their articles or reviews. Then, using DOCMaker, I would assemble the articles with all the legal pages, as well as ad pages, and add in the graphics. By the 15th of the month, I would send the issue to Russ, who would go through each article and review. If Russ made any changes, he would highlight his changes in colored text. Russ would then send the issue over to Jim, who would do the same as Russ had done, only using a different color for his edits. Russ would once again go over the entire issue, either keeping or nixing Jim’s edits, as well as making any last minute edits. Russ would then send the issue on to me, and I would comb the issue, finding both Russ’s and Jim’s edits, and either keep them or change them myself. I would then change all their colored text to black so the readers would not see strange red or blue text in the middle of a sentence for no reason. (A few actually got through, but those were rare.) I would then finish all the graphics, adding in Mike Gorman’s cover, and send the issue on to Adam. Adam would in turn create all the HTML and web pages for the website, posting the new issue online.
We did that every month for years.
In January 1997, our magazine sported a new icon, created by Jason Rainbows. Russ also interviewed the talented artist in that same issue. Today, you will find an occasional article from Jason here at MyMac.com, making him one of our longest running contributors.
Apple purchasing NeXT was the big news that January as well. Steve Jobs was back, but no one knew how much influence we would have in the company he had co-founded years before. Was it good or bad that Steve Jobs had returned to Apple was a question everyone was asking at the time. With hindsight, we should have known better. It was the beginning of the “NEW” Apple, a year away from the introduction of the iMac, and much, much more.
Much has been written about the fate of Apple once they purchased NeXT. A year later, and Apple fans would note that it was not so much as Apple acquiring NeXT, but NeXT acquiring Apple. All the top NeXT people moved into the top positions at Apple, reorganizing not only the entire company, but in time, its entire product line. The effects of the NeXT purchase are still being felt to this day.
One of my all-time favorite articles ever to appear on My Mac Magazine was in our March 1997 issue, titled “The Gorilla Benchmark Test” by Pete Miner. It is in our archive, and can found here.
Just released from Apple in 1997 was Mac OS 7.6, and Adam did a review of it in our March 1997 issue. This OS was actually shipped on either CD-ROM or floppy disk!
April 1997 saw a very cool cover of an Apple Starship Enterprise shooting at a Borg Microsoft cube. Also in that issue, more rumors were flying, this time thanks to an article in the San Jose Mercury News. Larry Ellison, the billionaire CEO of Oracle Inc. had openly said he was thinking about acquiring Apple in a hostile takeover.
Adam and I scooped most of the Mac press in that April issue, our 24th, with a preview of Mac OS 8.0 based on alpha software. His preview showcased many screen shots, the official “Copland” look of the OS, the multi-threaded finder, and much more. It was a huge coup!
As our second year in publishing wound down, Apple was in a lot of trouble. Things looked bleak, as they usually do before the sun rises. (In this case, Steve Jobs and the iMac.) My Mac Magazine was a huge success in terms of popularity and readership, but financial matters were a different story.
To be continued.