TV-PGJune 8, 1998: We're back! And just in time, too, judging by the upcoming competition; HBO reportedly plans a miniseries on the history of Apple starring Tom Hanks. Meanwhile, not content with taking on Microsoft, the government saddles up against Intel, and Keyspan announces a product which may ease our transition to the USB standard...
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Ready For Our Close-Up (6/8/98)

What better way to return to our regularly-scheduled program than to discuss HBO's planned miniseries on the history of our fave Cupertino computer company? It's mentioned briefly in a Variety article that we noticed over at Reality; apparently HBO is so jazzed by how much people liked their "From the Earth to the Moon" miniseries that they're planning more of the same. The three projects mentioned are a miniseries about the civil rights movement; one about the urban drug scene; and one about the history of Apple Computer. Jinkies!

Now, despite being HBO subscribers, your AtAT staff hasn't seen "From the Earth to the Moon." (Yours Truly leans more towards the "Fifth Element" side of space stories, and Katie, AtAT's resident fact checker and goddess of minutiae, refuses to watch it because they used David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in the commercials. She's not very tolerant of song misinterpretations.) Regardless, we gather that it is a dramatized account of the moon landing, and not a straight documentary. So assuming that the Apple miniseries will follow the same model, just which character from Apple's past will be played by Tom Hanks, who has already been mentioned in connection with the project? Can anybody imagine Hanks as a convincing Steve Jobs?

As for our personal casting choices, the jury's still out. For Jobs, especially, we're drawing a blank. For that sorta-tall, sorta-goofy but still potentially intense geek with glasses kind of vibe, we're considering Anthony Edwards, but we're willing to let physical resemblance take a back seat to sheer intensity-- perhaps DeNiro? We're at a loss.

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Under the Gun (6/8/98)

First Microsoft, and now Intel... The federal government extended its antitrust attack on the Wintel hegemony today, when the Federal Trade Commission announced its long-expected intention to sue Intel for violating antitrust laws by strongarming customers and competitors alike. A Wired News article has more details.

The main impetus behind the suit appears to be Intel's dealings with Intergraph, a computer company who recently took Intel to court for allegedly muscling them by witholding vital information about their chips. A couple of months ago, a federal judge ruled in favor of Intergraph and issued a preliminary injunction requiring Intel to provide Intergraph with the same info they gave to other manufacturers. The FTC examined this case as it decided to pursue antitrust action against Intel.

The real question this raises, of course, is, "How does this affect us?" We at AtAT see two possible effects of the Wintel antitrust suits upon the Mac-using world. First of all, there's the potential for Apple to make some serious inroads into all computer markets, if Microsoft and/or Intel is slowed down by legal issues. And secondly, there's the possibility that government interference in the workings of the largest hardware and software giants in the computer field may stifle innovation across the board and slow the progress of the whole industry to a crawl. We seriously doubt that second one, though. With Motorola and IBM continuously improving the PowerPC and Apple readying Mac OS 8.5, 9.0, and X, we're not overly concerned about lack of innovation on the Mac side of the fence. We think Apple and the other PowerPC partners should step up advertising soon to see if they can take advantage of all this legal bustle.

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The Great Migration (6/8/98)

While most of the debate that continues to rage over the paradigm-busting design of the forthcoming iMac centers on its lack of a floppy drive, don't forget that it also has no ADB, SCSI, or Mac-standard serial ports. Instead, it's got a couple of Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports as its only expansion option. And while the promises of USB sound great (true hot-swap plug and play, daisy chaining of over 100 devices, etc.), the one big catch is this-- none of the currently-available Mac peripherals will work with the iMac, because none of them are USB. We think it's great that Apple's looking towards the future as it moves to USB, but it could be a rocky transition.

Now, remember that while Mac-side USB is debuting in the iMac, it's going to become the standard general peripheral interface in all future Macs. That means that all those ADB-based peripherals, such as joysticks, trackballs, graphics tablets, etc. will eventually be replaced by USB versions, as the old peripherals won't work with the new Macs. It's a tricky switchover, though, because the installed base has ADB/serial ports and the new Macs have only USB instead. That means peripherals manufacturers have to decide which market is more important to them and decide when to make the switchover.

As it turns out, there's some good news for us current PCI-based Mac owners-- we can have the best of both worlds during the USB migration. Say, for example, you want to buy that cool new USB joystick to use on your USB-less 7300; no problem, now that Keyspan has announced their USB PCI card. For less than $100, you can add two USB ports to your existing Mac, thus allowing you access to all the new USB peripherals inspired by the iMac. And you can continue to use your serial-port digital camera, your ADB graphics tablet, etc. See? Move forward without killing your hardware investment. Sounds like Keyspan's card could really help ease the Mac world's transition to USB as a new standard.

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