Mark Twain Died at Apple

Welcome to a new feature of My Mac! Here, we offer a page for readers to write about any subject they’d like. Many times this may simply be a letter too long for the e-mail page, though we encourage everyone to submit an article for this page. This is your space, and we need your help to fill it! Also, we would like a better name for this page! “Your Turn” is fine to start it off, but we need you to name this column. Any ideas?

This month, I would like to present a letter we received from Sean Lynch. Sean’s letter was a little too long for the e-mail page, but I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it with all of you.


Dear Tim,

First off, Great work. I especially liked your Feb. My Mac article on MSNBC’s coverage of Apple’s stock. I do have one complaint though:

Don’t use that Mark Twain Reference in regards to Apple!

The quote about the rumors of Mark Twain’s death being greatly exaggerated have an official history at big green. In the early 90’s Apple was developing the next version of their incredible Apple II line, the Rom 04 Apple IIgs, code named Mark Twain.

I know that the majority of people that own home computers have bought them in the last three or four years. Many may not even know that Apple made computers before the Mac. I started with Apple II’s, then a IIe, a IIc, Mac 128, IIGS, and finally a PowerMac 6100/66. It took about 3 years for Apple to sell its first million Macs. Nobody wanted them (I bought one). They only had 128k, or 512K. They had dinky little 9 inch greyscale monitors and they cost too much. Most importantly, they had a
closed architecture. You shouldn’t open the case, because Apple knew more than you did about what a computer should be used for.

Apple was scared, they slowed down developing new things for their Apple II line to put more money into Macs. They stopped advertising Apple II’s, to put more money into Macs. But Apple II’s kept selling, and paying the bills at Apple. Finally Apple figured out why these wacky little machines were so wildly in demand. Users could open them up and stick aftermarket cards into some slots and make them do so many

Because the Mac had AppleTalk, and True Type fonts, it interested some desktop publishers. But it didn’t have the graphics capability or memory they needed. Apple got a brilliant idea. They scrapped one of the fundamental Mac ideas, and created the user definable Mac II. Go ahead open up the box, put in a few new cards, get that full page monitor you wanted. They developed NuBus(sure its slow now, but in ’87 it was pure

At the very same time Apple was making the Mac more like an Apple II, they were finally returning the favor to the Mac’s older brother. They developed the IIgs. It was completely backwards compatible to the IIe and IIc computers. Used a Mac-like GUI. Had built in AppleTalk, and something new: an ADB port, for a really cool keyboard mouse combo. For the next few years profits and sales were great at Big Green. The Mac got a IIe card for Apple II emulation. Apple ported the ADB bus to the Mac and got rid of those clunky old keyboards replacing them with the elegant Apple IIgs versions.

The Apple IIgs got an HFS File System Translator for greater network compatibility and a few hardware and motherboard updates. In ’91-’92, the Rom 04 ‘Mark Twain’ Apple IIgs was being developed. Apple came up with the ‘Apple II forever’ slogan, and called the project ‘Mark Twain’ to show that rumors of the still profitable Apple II line’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Then, in the fall of ’92 Apple killed the Apple II line, and millions of disgruntled Apple II users bought PC clones.

Apple had tried to kill the Apple two when the Apple III (Sara) came out and was a financial disaster. Then Apple II sales paid for Lisas and 3 1/2 years of Mac production. Apple had a huge installed consumer base of loyal Apple II users, whom they regularly degraded and ignored. Apple Learned from that. The emulation for 680×0 Macs that was implemented in the Power Mac shows that. Critics complain that Apple takes too long to Develop new OS’s, but give no praise when Apple make such smoothly operating software. For example, media coverage often points out that Mac OS doesn’t have true memory protection. They should be telling consumers that even without the benefit of memory protection, the Mac OS is more stable than Win95!

It is true that Apple is nowhere near death, but that quote always reminds me of Scully, broken promises, and dark days at Apple.

Keep up the good work.
Sean Lynch (

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