On the tenth anniversary of the introduction of Mac OS X, I thought it would be fun to take a look at this RandomMaccess column from April 1, 2003 — an April Fool’s Day look at an imagined reception of Apple’s then still-nascent operating system:
“I blew it. It’s as simple as that,” said a visibly upset Steve Jobs as he announced he would step down as head of Apple, the company he co-founded on this day over 25 years ago.
CFO Fred Anderson quickly announced the company would end its two-year-long transition to the UNIX-based Mac OS X and would release Mac OS 9.5 within the month.
“Our customers have told us they while there are a lot of things they like about OS X, they feel more productive in the Classic Environment, so that’s what we’re going to give them,” Anderson said. “Hell, Quark was never going to release a native version, anyway,” he admitted.
While stopping short of calling the OS X rollout a mistake, Jobs said he “underestimated the loyalty people felt for the Classic Mac OS.” Jobs told the audience of reporters, analysts and investors they could think of OS X as “the ‘New Coke’ of the computer industry. We all think Aqua tastes better,” he said, motioning to the Apple executives behind him on stage. “But if our customers want to drink Classic, let ‘em drink it ’till they float.”
To run the new version of OS 9, Jobs unveiled a new line of computers to replace both the iMac and Power Mac lineups. “If our customers want a return to the past, we’re going to accommodate them all the way,” said Jobs, with a tone this reporter could almost swear was sarcasm. “Our new Mac is more than a regular Mac,” said Jobs, “so we’re calling it the ‘Mac Plus.’ It’s got a full four megabytes of RAM, and a 68020 processor more than powerful enough to drive the OS you dimwitted, er, discerning customers seem to want.”
To make it compact and able to fit into just about any décor, Jobs says the Mac Plus will have a nine-inch monitor, built right into the computer, “just like the original Mac — I mean iMac,” he said. The form factor for the new machine is slightly taller, but was apparently based on the failed G4 Cube, although a sporty beige color has replaced the clear Lucite casing. “In addition,” he said, “since you people all seem to think the colorful Aqua interface was too distracting, we’ve eliminated color from the OS entirely. The monitor on the Mac Plus will display a soothing, elegant 256 shades of grey.”
Just as Apple’s recent computer models have eliminated things like fans and floppy drives, Jobs said the Mac Plus eliminates something that “has given our users no end of trouble: the hard drive.” All programs, he said, including the operating system, will run on another Apple innovation: 3.5″ floppy disks. “That’s another thing you people seem to have some sort of ungodly affection for,” he said, with what we’re really becoming convinced is a sarcastic tone.
“Oh, and one more thing,” Jobs said, bringing a cheer of anticipation from the audience who had not heard them utter those words in his last several keynotes. “To complete the feeling of ‘nostalgia,’” he said, making quote mark gestures in the air, “we’re pricing the new Mac at $3,500.”
“Any questions can be directed to our new CEO, John Sculley,” said Jobs, as he walked off the stage extending his middle finger to the audience, presumably meant to say “we’re number one.”