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October 3, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM, Apple embark on odyssey to bridge the great divide to a new object frontier

Six months ago, nobody would have bet a dime that IBM and Apple would be standing on this platform together, said IBM Corp president Jack Kuehler at Wednesday’s announcement of the broad-brush collaboration at the desktop between IBM Corp and Apple Computer Inc, beamed out by satellite from San Francisco to numerous locations around the world. No one, that is, except Computergram subscribers, who would have noted our reporting the first rumblings of the deal way back in January (CI No 1,583). Even so, it was incongruous to see Kuehler act out a lighthearted double-act with Apple Computer chairman John Sculley at the event, billed variously as the reason why 1994 won’t be like 1984 (Sculley), the second decade of personal computing (Kue hler) and (rather ludicrously) the bridge over the great divide to a new object frontier (Sculley). The cheery mood was in stark con trast to the last time IBM shared a platform with its major competitors – at the formation of the Open Software Foundation in 1988 – when IBM’s John Akers and Digital Equipment Corp’s Ken Olsen were both in such sombre mood that they refused to pose together for photographs. DEC and Olsen incidentally were among the spectres at Wednesday’s feast: just three years ago, DEC and Apple were cooking up an announcement about Mac-VAX integration that had analysts speculating wildly about ever-closer collaboration across the Massachusetts-California divide. The meat of the announcement, also involving Motorola Inc, came in the five initiatives outlined in detail on these two pages.

Motorola, IBM set 300 designers loose on single-chip PowerPC RISC

At the hardware level, the agreement centres around the IBM Power RISC architecture, as used in IBM’s RS/6000, which Apple has agreed to use for its next-generation Macintoshes. In order to develop the CPU into a single-chip microprocessor packaged suitably for the merchant market, IBM is setting up a joint development centre of some 300 people with Motorola Inc in Austin, Texas, who will work on what is virtually a new chip design using the Power RISC instruction set. (Power stands for Performance Optimisation with Enhanced RISC, in case anyone had forgotten). This is the reason why the venture is still two to three years away from silicon: IBM may have been hard at work shrinking the original six-chip set down to two for the delayed low-end RS/6000, now due early next year, but it still remains essentially a custom IBM CPU. Motorola will co-design, manufacture and market the new chip, dubbed PowerPC, and will supply Apple and any other licensees it is able to pick up along the way. IBM, with its own fabrication facilities, is likely to supply its own needs. PowerPC is intended as a complete family of products, but will initially appear for three design points (perhaps for laptop, workstation and server use).

Combined IBM-Apple Unix will form PowerOpen desktop Unix environment

A software licensing agreement between IBM and Apple will result in a future version of IBM’s OSF/1-based AIX operating system combined with the Macintosh user interface, as currently provided on Apple’s own A/UX version of Unix System V. The operating system will run on both the Power – RS/6000 – and PowerPC architectures, and could be licensed by any other companies using the PowerPC chip. Both IBM and Apple say they will use PowerOpen in future versions of both AIX and A/UX on their RISC hardware lines, though customers will have the choice of Macintosh or OSF/Motif user interface. Current AIX, A/UX and Macintosh applications will be supported, and the operating system will be Posix- and X/Open Portability Guide-compliant. Licensing details will be announced at a later date, when a new industry-wide organisation that sounds rather on the lines of the 88000 supporters club 88open, will be formed to promote the environment with other manufacturers, software developers and end-users. Defections from other recently formed industry groupings are confidently

expected, at least by one Motorola source, who claimed enquiries had already been received from some Advanced Computing Environment Consortium members.

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First fruits of co-operation will be networking, due this year

December of this year will see the first concrete evidence of whether IBM and Apple are really getting along, with the launch of networking products to tie the Apple and IBM worlds closer together, covering both planned and existing products. The products will make Apple Macintoshes better clients when working with IBM mainframe, midrange and department networks, according to Apple president Michael Spindler. Specifically, they talked about AppleTalk services for OS/2, with Apple licensing AppleTalk source code to IBM; Token Ring technology for Apple, licensed from IBM; closer integration of Macs with IBM’s Systems Network Architecture, giving Mac users Advanced Peer to Peer Networking directory and routing services; Network management integration for Macs through IBM’s LAN Network Manager, or centrally through the NetView network management product; and improved access to data and application resources on the AS/400, with Apple promising to implement its SQL-based Data Access Language for the AS/400. Many of these facilities have been offered by third parties for some time…

New start-up companies to tackle multi- media and objects

There has been no single target so far for multi-media, and that’s inhibited the appearance of new applications, said John Sculley, introducing Kaleida (after Kaleidoscope), the first of two equally-owned joint ventures that will operate from Silicon Valley. Kaleida, with around 200 to 300 people, will develop, license and make available multi-media specifications and technologies. Activities will include the development of computer-independent data and scripting formats which IBM and Apple – and, they hope, others – will license. Meanwhile, both companies will continue to work on their own separate multi-media efforts, such as Apple’s QuickTime software effort.

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