back to article Rotten to the core: Apple’s 10 greatest FAILS

There has been no shortage of rose-tinted retrospective adulation marking the 30th birthday of the Macintosh over past weeks. Here at El Reg, we’d be the last to deny Apple’s significance and continuing influence on the history of personal computing. But to put everything in perspective, we thought it was worth looking back at …


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  1. Big_Ted
    Big Brother

    One for the list


    I remember the posts here on release about WTF and Huh ? ? ?

    Whoever came up with the concept of putting something into itunes and it would be used wass crazy, people want to get out of itunes as fast as they can not hang out in it.....

  2. eSeM

    Another For The List ....

    Maps ....

    Now that was funny.


    1. xperroni

      Re: Another For The List ....

      Indeed, where's Maps?

      It's even got its own Tumblr page!

      And how about all the nice stories of it sending people out into the middle of nowhere?

      Son, I am disappoint.

  3. Matthew Smith


    I'm tired of articles trotting out Apple's 'failures' over the years. At least they tried. Newton was still incredible tech for 1993, and the lessons from that would have been included in the IPhone. Otherwise we should be celebrating the bad old days of Microsoft where they made heaps of money trotting out mediocre versions of Windows and Office and forcing customers to upgrade. They didn't innovate, but they didn't fail either, so hooray for them.

    1. Decade

      Re: Pffffttt

      "They didn't innovate, but they didn't fail either, so hooray for them."

      Microsoft did innovate. Remember Microsoft Bob? While that was a commercial failure, it did give Bill Gates a wife and family.

      Microsoft has been a lot more open with what they're doing than Apple, so you can see their failures. Things like Singularity, WinFS, Longhorn, and Courier would never have made it to the public in a modern Apple. A few innovations actually do get out of the lab, too, such as the big table Surface, not to be confused with the failed tablet Surface.

    2. nematoad

      Re: Pffffttt

      With the combination of arrogance, price gouging and a general "stuff you" attitude I'm surprised that Apple seem to have done so well for themselves, if not for the general computing public.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Wow. Did Steve Jobs steal your sweets? And you suppose that Google and Microsoft are any different? Tell you what, grow up a bit, then we'll talk.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. burntnorton

          Re: @nematoad Im grown argue with me if you like

          I'm fully grown and there isn't a technology company that isn't stuffing things up these days. But apple sell their crap at a premium, which builds an expectation that they should do better. certainly the story of final cut was an unmitigated disaster and photoshop is dying on its feet as well.

          1. Frankee Llonnygog

            Re: @nematoad Im grown argue with me if you like

            Photoshop? How is that relevant to this topic?

    3. Daniel B.

      Re: Pffffttt

      I gotta agree on some of the things they tried, and the Newton particularly is one thing that I liked back then. Even the article states what many of us already know: the Newton wasn't killed for being a failure, it was killed because Jobs had to have his sweet revenge against the guy who succeeded him as CEO. He actually pissed off a lot of developers back then, as the Newton ecosystem was slowly but surely evolving.

      Proof that Jobs wanted the Newton dead? Right before his return, Newton was going to be spun off as a separate company. This was halted upon Jobs' return. He really wanted the thing dead.

  4. Decade

    Apple //c was not bad

    The Apple IIc wasn't that bad. It was essentially everything from the Apple IIe, in a compact case including the floppy drive but excluding expansion slots. For ordinary use, that was sufficient. My school had 2 Apple IIc and about 10 Apple IIe in the computer lab, and 1 Apple IIgs. I preferred the IIc's keyboard. I had an Apple IIc at home, too. But I don't know how expensive they were, nor exactly how well they sold.

    1. jai

      Re: Apple //c was not bad

      Yep my dad had a //c and I got his old ][e in my bedroom to learn programming Logo on.

      But I much preferred to mess around on the //c. As you say, keyboard was much nicer, and it was portable enough to move it from his office to the dinning table from time to time.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Apple //c was not bad

        I remember my Dad bringing home a Apple //c from work. They had it in for evaluation. We had it at home for a few days so I spent time playing with the intro disks that came with it. Was fun and also my first time on a Apple PC. I think Dad brought a 128k Mac home that following Xmas (or maybe next) which was more fun.

        I was about 12/13 at the time.

      2. Simon Harris

        Re: Apple //c was not bad

        Maybe it wasn't bad as an update to a ][e, but for a computer introduced in 1984 with a list price over $1000, much as I used to love the processor, wouldn't it have been a little underpowered with a 1MHz 65C02 compared to the competition?

        Released a couple of years earlier, it might have been more of a success.

  5. Jason Hindle

    Copeland, Taligent, BEOS etc....

    I think the history of these is pretty much inseparable from the history of processor development. They were designed to be modern, multi tasking OSs with the processors, and memory constraints, of the day in mind. There came a point where processors were powerful enough, and memory cheap enough, to run UNIX plus nice graphical front end. That killed pretty much everything else, other than Windows.

    I think we're now seeing a similar dynamic with Windows 8.1 vs Windows 8.1 RT. Surface RT may look good but, as Asus is proving, what's the point of RT when full fat Windows 8.1 runs perfectly well on Intel's Bay Trail processors? I suspect RT isn't long for this world!

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Copeland, Taligent, BEOS etc....

      > I suspect RT isn't long for this world!

      The other nail in the coffin is that when a user puts W8 on an atom its his problem that the cost is high and performance low. When MS put RT on ARM, its their problem that the cost is high and performance low. They also don't want to reduce the price of W8/RT because that might cut revenue from x86 sales.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Copeland, Taligent, BEOS etc....

      The real failure was that Apple wasn't able to deliver a moder OS until OSX, and that meant long after Windows became a far better OS since 2000 and XP - while Apple was still using an OS which lacked pre-emptive multitasking, process isolation, etc etc. And that says a lot about what user looks for while buying an Apple.

      1. Daniel B.

        Re: Copeland, Taligent, BEOS etc....

        System 7 was far better than its contemporary Windows brethren, and that includes Windows 95. While System 7 could bomb (yes, I remember both Sad Macs and 'Sorry, a system error has occurred') Windows 3.x and 95 had a bad habit of doing this at random, and it was far more common back in those days. OS X came out by 2001, but the first really consumer-oriented memory-protected MS OS was Windows XP (as MS had Windows 2000 more of an enterprise OS) so both companies were really on equal footing (NT was more of a business OS).

        Nope, process isolation in MacOS vs. OSX isn't what made MS win the war. It was mostly on pricing as PCs went far cheaper than Macs and a couple of blunders by Apple during the post-Sculley years. If stability were the real differentiation between platforms, we'd probably be running Solaris everywhere these days.

  6. Decade

    PowerBook 5300 wasn't that bad, either

    The PowerBook 5300 didn't sell very well, especially the high-end model, but it worked decently. Except for the part where they disabled Li-ion batteries, because of the fires that no customer actually experienced, and then didn't enable them again when Sony sorted out their problems. The PowerBook 3400 and first-generation PowerBook G3 batteries were physically compatible, but the PowerBook 5300 wouldn't take them.

    The CD-ROM drive was a slight problem, but it could take external CD-ROM drives through the SCSI port. Even then, I didn't use CD-ROMs that often, and I even reused the external drive (originally bought for my 1991-era Quadra) on my PowerBook 3400 instead of buying an internal drive. Apparently, a CD-ROM drive was built for the 5300, but it could take only small discs, and was only seen in that horrid Independence Day movie.

    I think the biggest problem with the 5300 was just the narrative that the press wanted to build, that Apple was failing and doomed, that Steve Jobs managed to reverse.

  7. Rob Willett

    Just seen the Hitler spoof

    Just seen the mandatory Hitler spoof and have had to leave the office because I was laughing so much. Utter fucking genius.

    I actually do use Final Cut Pro X and have never used the previous version so can't comment on the differences. I like Final Cut Pro, but it I have to say it does have a 'we'll do it for you, just trust me' type feel with it. Given I'm a complete noob on video editing, this may be very good for me, but I can see how it might drive seasoned professionals up the wall.

    I suppose the difference is Emacs vs a fancy IDE. I do know Emacs, I write programs in Lisp under Emacs and use them for development, I know its foibles and I have learnt my C development workflow for the last 20-30 years using it, if I had to move to Eclipse or an IDE I suppose I'd struggle as well. Of course Emacs and C is the one true religion and all other editing systems (with the exception of sed, vi and cat) are apostasy. Now that has given me an idea for my own Hitler spoof :)

  8. thondwe

    IOS 7 issues

    May be you could consider a more current issue with IOS 7 app refreshing on older ipad/iphone hardware, here's the 30+ page thread on the Apple Support Communities....


    1. Don Dumb
      Thumb Up

      Re: IOS 7 issues +1

      I thought it couldn't just be me. I always put it down to iOS7 being more power hungry and me running a 4S (smaller memory size). Either way it's pretty awful OS engineering as something like the fixed state of a webpage should be easily stored without having to refresh every time I return to the page. Doesn't iOS shift background apps to something akin to moving background apps to swapfile.

      This is definitely worth some digging by El Reg. iOS7 has had so many problems.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: IOS 7 issues +1

        This one drives me completely potty.

        I had a longer reply but Safari refreshed and lost it.

    2. fajensen

      Re: IOS 7 issues

      Ohh - and Skype's take on "push messaging" on IOS - to me this push stuff was something that died with the dot.bomb who invented it, but .... ooh No!

      Bye, bye Skype!

  9. Stretch

    You forgot "Existing"

  10. illiad

    their biggest feature was 'ignorance'..

    doing it all their way, and saying its the best... if you want to send a file to a friends phone (AND you don't know or want to 'hack' it!!) you just send it to the internet, and tell your friend to download it...

    - when your non-iphone friends just bluetooth the file, and get it in *seconds* without waiting for problems due to bad signal, slow internet, no credit on phone... :(

    BTW apple laptops CAN do bluetooth file transfer... :/ ??

  11. wolfetone Silver badge

    I remember Steve Jobs first saying that signal loss from holding mobile phones were a common issue and that it affected all handsets. The next day, one of BlackBerry's CEO's (think it was Lazaridis) said that BlackBerry phones didn't suffer from this - and he was right. A friend at the time had a new iPhone and I had a new BlackBerry Curve, and we tried holding them differently etc and my BlackBerry never really lost signal. My friends iPhone however, lost all of his signal.

    1. John 62

      Antennagate affects everyone, not just apple

      All phones suffer if their antenna is blocked by a microwave-absorbing material, like human flesh.

      Apple had one particular problem with signal-dropping if and only if the user's hand was slightly moist and they held the phone in such a way that it would bridge two of the antennas (thus detuning them significantly). Granted Apple was a bit arrogant at first (the "Don't hold it wrong" email surely didn't pass the PR dept's reviewers), but they were also rather unfairly treated by the press when competitors' phones had demonstrably similar characteristics.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Antennagate affects everyone, not just apple

        Yeah but while other phones may lose 2 or 3 bars of service (if that), the iPhone lost everything.

      2. Eddy Ito

        Re: Antennagate affects everyone, not just apple

        The biggest problem was that magic knock out point was right about where the thick fleshy bit at the base of the thumb normally contacts the phone when held in the left hand and about where the ring finger tip falls when held in the right hand. Sure, if you used your hands as a clam shell around other phones they would lose a few bars or drop out but not with an open three finger hold. Sure, if you have dry skin, it may not have been a problem but then you'd likely be complaining about the lack of sensitivity on the touch screen.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Good to remember whenever you hear that "Apple can do no wrong" blah blah


    Excellent piece of work.

    I'd like one on MS as well.

    Balanced and fair reporting.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Good to remember whenever you hear that "Apple can do no wrong" blah blah

      What's the obsession with getting it right all the time?

      Far better to try and fail and sometimes succeed and make a few billion.

      Just as long as you have a sense of humour about your failures, you'll be fine.

      Far more worrying is Apple's apparent retreat into closed/proprietary devices. Failures like Apple ///, Lisa are easily excusable as they were cool and better systems, even if they were too expensive. The iMac was arguably better than PCs of its time - the lack of diskette was replaced by something better.

      Sadly, these days we are losing features and not having them replaced with anything better. $70 for a CDROM drive? You've got to be joking!

      1. NumptyScrub

        Re: Good to remember whenever you hear that "Apple can do no wrong" blah blah

        quote: "Far better to try and fail and sometimes succeed and make a few billion."

        The problem with MS is that people can easily disagree on which things are failures. Vista, Win 8 and the Office ribbon are commonly derided, but were they a financial failure or not?

        Not to mention that some of us (albeit without a functioning sense of taste, apparently) actually got/get on ok with all of the above, I had no issues with Vista at the time, and am currently using Win8.1 on my gaming rig at home ^^;

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Good to remember whenever you hear that "Apple can do no wrong" blah blah

        What's the obsession with getting it right all the time?

        Who's obsessed with getting it right all the time?

        There's value in reviewing the errors of the past, and none in ignoring them.

        Those who forget history, &c.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Good to remember whenever you hear that "Apple can do no wrong" blah blah

      John Smith,

      In the spirit of contrariness, shouldn't El Reg do an article on Microsft's brilliant successes. After all, the standard journalistic thing for ages has been to right 'Apple brilliant, Apple visionary, Apple cool' stories. And equally, 'MS rubbish, MS evil' ones.

    3. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Good to remember whenever you hear that "Apple can do no wrong" blah blah

      "Balanced and fair reporting."

      This isn't the BBC that you're looking for.

    4. returnmyjedi

      Re: Good to remember whenever you hear that "Apple can do no wrong" blah blah

      And when it's the anniversary of Windows 3.1 or similar then I'm sure we'll get a retrospective. This is to tie in with the massive success of the Mac and all of the lyrical waxing that has been in the tech press over the last few weeks.

  13. BarryP

    How is iTunes not on this list?

    Sure it makes them a lot of money but the software is terrible.

    1. Don Dumb

      Re: How is iTunes not on this list?

      iTunes isn't really a failure if it makes a ton of money is it?

      Good or bad it still succeeded.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: How is iTunes not on this list?

      iTunes the distribution network makes Apple approximately all of the money in the world, so I can't really call it a failure.

      The piece of software called iTunes however is a blight on this world. Especially the windows version.

  14. deadlockvictim

    Concentrating on things

    I would concentrate less on concrete things and instead include a few policy decisions:

    1. Upper-Right — the decision by upper management to fleece customers for as much as possible started early on. Rather than trying to build marketshare, Apple management went for short-term profit. Andy Hertzfeld outlines this from the very beginning in his website. The original Macintosh was to be billed at $1500 and that became $2500 after Sculley became involved.

    The likes of Jean-Louis Gassée then promoted the idea that because Macs were desirable that they should be milked for all they were worth. The apogée of this was the Mac IIfx which went for $10K in 1990. Despite the high prices, Macs had a 12% marketshare in 1992. Just think what it could have been if Macs had been more reasonably priced.

    The pricing in Europe was also much, much higher than in the US and this hurt marketshare as well.

    2. Lack of Direction in Models

    Steve Jobs highlighted this in 1998. There were 40 or so different models marketed between 1994 and 1997, many of which were the same. The crassest example of which was the LC475 | Performa 475 | Quadra 605. Each was aimed at a different market and each was priced differently despite being the same machine. Then there was the awful Performa name.

    3. Games

    Games, especially 3-D shooters, became the killer app in the mid-1990s for PCs. Apple were already on the road to nowhere, did little to make the mac more gamer-friendly and game-developer friendly. I myself migrated from the mac in 1998 for this very reason. Half Life never came out on the Mac and I was not happy to wait for 6 months while other games on the PC were already available.

    It is a mindset within Apple, I think, that goes way back to the early 1980s. A developer had written a lovely little game (Through the Looking Glass) for the nascent Mac and Apple were reluctant to market it because they din't want the Mac to be seen as a games machine.

    4. Symmetric Multi-Processing

    I often wonder why Apple didn't go down the road of SMP with the early Mac IIs. Steve Jobs had purchased 1 million 68000 processors from Motorola and it took Apple 6 years to use these up. The last mac to use one was the Classic in 1990. I would have required rewriting the System and Finder as well obliging companies like Microsoft and Adobe to rewrite their software to take advantage of it, but it would have made already powerful (for the day) computers more so. It would have given Apple a great technological advantage and more firmly established the Mac as a powerful computer. The nearest mac users got to this was the Radius Rocket form ex-Mac Developers Andy Hertzfeld and Burrell Smith

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Concentrating on things

      I've always wondered why Apple didn't build their GUI on Solaris.

      It may be in decline now, but it was the engineering workstation and app server of choice and with a decent GUI and Apple marketing, it could have wiped the floor and been both SPARC and x86 ready.

      Alternatively, just do the GUI for BSD. I like using my wife's imac but I really dislike having the low-level stuff just be that much different from what I can put on non-Apple kit for free.

      1. Daniel B.

        Re: Concentrating on things

        P. Lee - OSX basically did the "GUI for BSD", as NeXTStep and OSX are based off BSD. It's easy to use for those comfortable with BSD, but it is pretty mind boggling for those who are only used to Linux.

        Oh, and the person who ended up bringing Jobs back to Apple originally wanted to build their GUI around Solaris. That would've been interesting, had Apple done both the turnaround and done "Apple on Solaris" Sun Microsystems would probably still exist to this day.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Concentrating on things

      You know the PC market is dying? That's because of dip shits like you who want something for nothing. Apple charges what the market will bear, other engage in race to the bottom price where everybody, including consumers, suffer. But that's fine, so long as you get what you want for next to free.

      1. deadlockvictim

        Re: Concentrating on things

        What is true now is not necessarily what was true 20-30 years ago and most of this article deals with products and events that were around then. One of my main points was that Apple should have striven for marketshare at the beginning (and with it medium-term to long-term profits) rather than short-term profit. Sales of the Apple II were healthy and the success of the Macintosh was not a make or break situation for the company at the time.

        It was the route that Bill Gates steered Microsoft towards — get your software on the most machines possible. Apple has followed this strategy with the iPhone and iPad with much success..

        Apple does charge what the market will bear and my point was that lower prices would have meant a bigger market. And this would have been a benefit to them.

        And as for dip-shits like me, I bought (and still buy) my macs second- and thirdhand because they certainly were well built and are in rude health after 20 years. And I couldn't give a toss about the PC market. Only old macintoshes.

        1. FutureShock999

          Re: Concentrating on things

          Your one presumption is that Apple could BUILD more Macs - a problem Microsoft didn't have, as they allow others to build the hardware for them. But in point of fact, once Apple began doing things like integrating the screens into their designs, and higher and higher resolution screens compared to the competition, they were always going to face parts availability limitations. You can see that currently with their struggle to obtain enough new parts to simultaneously launch iPhones in all major markets (they cannot as it turns out).

          And then their is the manufacturing problem - for a very long time, Apple produced their own hardware, in their own factories. Sure, they could scale them, but never to the degree that Dell+Gateway+IBM+everywhiteboxmaker could. And they didn't want to farm it out at the time, in part because at that time the ability to buy high-quality assembled machines from Asia wasn't nearly as advanced as it is now. And any capital invested in manufacturing and physical plant would actually be a drag on their share pricing and net valuation on the stock market.

          So there are a HOST of reasons why Apple thought it best to sell smaller numbers of more profitable machines...and you can see that as many of these have been offset by the rise of higher-quality Asian subcontracted assembly, Apple's pricing has fallen more and more in line with other PC manufacturers. Never will totally compete with the bottom end of the market, but pricing for an Apple MBP and a Sony Viao laptop are not light-years apart...

    3. Gordon 10

      Re: Concentrating on things

      1. Upper-Right

      A mistake really??? Apple concentrating on short term profit (ie the high end) has made them almost immune from the general slump in PC and Laptop sales. Most people would call that genius. Arguably they learnt from trying to compete with the mass market severval times and decided never to do it again - which at the moment is paying them dividends - lunatic analysts who want ever increasing expansion excepted.

      Depending on whose figures you believe Mac PC's current have ~11% of the US market. Not bad considering that is nearly all laptops in a category containing desktops as well.

      1. deadlockvictim

        Re: Concentrating on things

        Not at all. In the mid-1990s Apple had a smaller marketshare than they could have had. When Microsoft released Windows 95, this marketshare was slashed and did terrible things to their bottom line. The success of the iMac in 1998 that saved them from financial ruin and that was, by no means, a high-end computer for the well-heeled.

        Apple have now reasonably priced macs in the form of the mac mini as well as powerful workstations in the form of the dustbin.

      2. Daniel B.

        Re: Concentrating on things @Gordon 10

        1. Upper-Right

        A mistake really??? Apple concentrating on short term profit (ie the high end) has made them almost immune from the general slump in PC and Laptop sales.

        You're thinking current markets. Back in the 80's, they had the PC market with the Apple II. There's a good chance that guys my age had their first hands-on experience with an Apple II if they lived in the US, there were a lot of 'em in many elementary schools. It even had the first real killer app for personal computers: VisiCalc (the very first spreadsheet program!). The Macintosh was even better as it had a GUI at a time where most computers were mostly text only. See the Texas Instruments one, the C-64 or the Apple II. And only a couple of years later, the Macintosh had killer apps for office productivity, like Aldus PageMaker and yes, even Word and Excel (this is where Office was born!). But Apple had to sell it at an expensive price, and thus the adoption rate was slower.

        Hell, they managed to keep the Macintosh platform pretty good all the way to System 7.1, even when Windows came out System 7 was still nice compared with the fugly Win3.1 GUI (Program Manager, anyone?). It was probably 'till Windows 95 that MS reached near-parity with System 7 … and even then they were still behind the line. But PCs were now at least somewhat user friendly and combined price differential and the post-Sculley slump meant that the PC kicked them out of the personal computer market. It was a sad thing to see...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Concentrating on things @Gordon 10

          "It was probably 'till Windows 95 that MS reached near-parity with System 7 … and even then they were still behind the line."

          Nah, Win95 was definitely better than System 7. That was really the beginning of Apple's obvious technical inferiority at the time. Both Apple and Microsoft had been trying for years to come out with a consumer-friendly OS that had preemptive multitasking and protected memory (Microsoft with OS/2 which sort of morphed into NT and Apple with Pink/Copland/Taligent). Win95 finally delivered and Apple was stuck hobbling along with their cooperative multitasking, non-protected memory MacOS right up until OS X a full 5 years later. Speaking as a Mac fan, anybody who chose to use a Mac over Windows during this time period (95 to 2000) must have been a little nuts. Any program you ran on a Mac had the ability to hang your entire system or corrupt all its memory, requiring a reboot. Happened ALL the time. Infuriating.

  15. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Lots of Apple kit looks nice

    I don't remember ever hearing of it before, but can I just say that the TAM (Twentieth Anniversary Mac) thing is absolutely hideous. No idea of the technical merits, or otherwise, but yuck. As compared to say the cube or the dustbin Mac Pro - which may be silly, but does look great.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Lots of Apple kit looks nice

      I like it - in a looks like a cash machine kinda way.

  16. Alan Watson

    Early '90s "pre-internet"??

    The internet didn't start when journalists got connected.

    Pre widespread domestic internet would have been acceptable, but for a tech site this was a bit of a fail.

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: Early '90s "pre-internet"??

      Technically it was still called ARPANet and/or NSFNet back then, though it started to get the 'Internet' moniker sometime around the late 80's or early 90's. The Internet as we know it today was probably "born" sometime around 1992, and the final restrictions on commercial stuff didn't go until 1995. Technically, we can talk of pre-1995 as the "pre-Internet" era as before then, NSFNet (the primary backbone) didn't allow commercial use of the network.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Early '90s "pre-internet"??

        Technically it was still called ARPANet and/or NSFNet back then, though it started to get the 'Internet' moniker sometime around the late 80's or early 90's.

        That's simply wrong. ARPANet and NSFNet were part of the Internet, but lowercase-i "internet" was in common use for TCP/IP internets at least as far back as the mid-1970s - RFC 675, "SPECIFICATION OF INTERNET TRANSMISSION CONTROL PROGRAM", was published in 1974. "The [uppercase-I] Internet" was a common alternative term for ARPANet even before the Big Switch in 1983; note the text of RFC 823, for example. By the end of '83, it was standard usage; see for example RFC 889 ("This set of experiments was designed to determine whether delays across the Internet are significantly influenced by packet length").

        Certainly after the Big Switch it would have been technically incorrect to refer to all of the Internet - i.e., all the connected systems in the public IP address space - as "ARPANet" or "NSFNet", since those were only two of the backbone networks that were connected to the Internet.

        While the NSFNet AUP did prohibit commercial traffic on the NSFNet backbone until '95, other backbones did permit commercial traffic, and in particular CIX and ANS CO+RE allowed considerable commercial traffic over the Internet by routing around NSFNet. And in any case, the term "Internet" was widely used in both technical and casual parlance well before '95.

        FWIW, Google Ngrams shows "Internet" has always been far more common than either "ARPANet" or "NSFNet", with significant usage starting in the mid-80s.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All companies make mistake - we're human after all and making mistakes makes you better / stronger in the long run. How many car manufacturers do you know that have never issued a recall? How much software have you never had to update?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's OK. Apple will still be OK without you making up excuses for it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Show me the company that has done as much and not made a few mis-steps along the way and remember a lot of this is subjective - you might not like not having a laptop with a DVD drive - personally I would trade a DVD drive for a larger battery and suspect most people would. You might complain iOS is a closed ecosystem but it's still got huge choice, great quality and better security.

    1. AppleGrammar

      "You might complain iOS is a closed ecosystem but it's still got huge choice, great quality and better security."

      There speaks an Apple user with limited experience or understanding of quality and security in the computing world.

      Huge choice? Well, over 1,000,000 apps, they say, though not very many that are actually useful. "Never mind the quality, feel the width", eh?

  19. Tony Green

    What grates for me...

    ... is the use of the word "fails" when "failures" would be so much more literate (and non-American).

  20. big_D Silver badge


    Apple III - main computer on Matt Helm TV series. I so wanted one...

    Apple IIc - didn't Roy Scheider use one on a beach in the film 2010?

    Lisa - I wanted one, I kept the Practical Computing year review magazine with it in for several years. There were lots of great PCs in that issue. It was a wonderful read, even after they were all superceded. To be honest, I prefer those simpler days to the computing to what we have now in many ways.

    Newton - hand writing recognition worked well, as long as your name was Jerry Pournelle

    1. beep54

      Re: Memories...

      Dear lord! There really WAS a Matt Helm TV series. God, I would have thought that those Dean Martin movies would have killed the franchise dead, although they do have the somewhat dubious distinction of spawning the Austin Powers movies. I loved the Matt Helm series as a kid as was forbidden (uh, right) the Bond books. Too racy, I was told. But the Helm books were far grittier than anything that Fleming dreamed up. And, hey, JFK himself liked reading them.

    2. Simon Harris

      Re: Memories...

      "Apple IIc - didn't Roy Scheider use one on a beach in the film 2010?"

      You mean, Roy Scheider was the prototype for the Eee PC girl?

  21. Indolent Wretch

    Didn't I read an article just like this, right here, last year? Or was that the other red-top.

    Don't get wrong I'm all for bashing Apple for an amusing light article, there aren't many companies I find whose actions leave a more sour taste in my mouth, but some originality at least?

    How about the top 10 most ridiculously obvious Apple patents?

    The top 10 most bullying things done to companies that dared put a small 'i' in the front of one their products.

    The top 10 most absurdly designed icons in iOS 7?

    Or the top 10 most frustrating things that happen when you press a key you thought you knew on an Apple keyboard? (seriously Apple, the 'end' key does WHAT???)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slow news day, or are the ad views down? I trust that, in the name of balance, we'll be seeing similar for Google and Microsoft...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Yeah, because we never see an article bashing Microsoft or Google around here.

      disclaimer : for those of you without a clue, that is called sarcasm

  23. returnmyjedi

    The eMac is the only bit of failed Apple kit that I've had personal experience with. My firm decided to buy half a dozen of them and every one had screen failures, and took Apple at least a year to fess up that there were issues. And I think that's the problem with Apple: not admitting their mistakes.

  24. DrXym

    Final Cut Pro X

    I've never used this product, but I've been involved in development of a product where management decided that existing users were not their target audience any more. They replaced a fat client app used for investment account management with a web application. To put this in perspective we had users of the old product complaining that the app was slow when display results of a million(!) records. The new webapp used to show results 50 per page with a maximum row count. The managers probably decided they'd make more money from the new app.

    From reading about Final Cut Pro X this seems to be the same thing happening. Perhaps Apple decided they'd make more money targeting semi-professional and amateur editors instead, e.g. the kind that upload vids to YouTube. Maybe they thought that repositioning themselves at that audience would make them 50x the sales and they'd throw in the odd feature to appease the old lot over time. If so it makes sense even if it seriously pisses off their old users.

    1. stu 4

      Re: Final Cut Pro X

      spot on I think.

      I spent 700 quid on FC Studio 3 (FCP7, motion, color, etc) . It was/is great, but 32 bit, not very multicore friendly, etc...

      I was looking forward to the X upgrade.

      Oh... so.. you want another 200 quid off me.. and there IS NO upgrade.

      10 versions on (10.01-10.1) and we still don't have basic shit like motion integration (motion is awesome, and a bargain price now for anyone, but without integration into FCP timetime there is no round tripping at all for titles, etc... i

      And still, clicking on things works maybe 50% of the time, the interface wanks for the world, and it takes >2 minutes to load now as it insists on loading every single fucking event I have on every hard drive i have connected (apple solution: rename/move the ones you don't want it to read..!!!!!)

      But the 2 factors : multthreading speed, and editing speed (when it does work) means FCP7 is never opened anymore.

      But FFS, it could have been sooooo much better. What a bunch of arrogant arseholes.

      Have they learned ? Have they fuck. 10.1 forces you to have to have all your events/footage in libraries rather than just the horrible 'only in this directory' of previous versions.. .so again, forcing me to have to make massive monolythic 500gb libraries of all my previous footage. utter wankers.

  25. heyrick Silver badge

    In the interests of fairness... let's have a list of the top ten good ideas that Google has jacked in because they got bored...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the interests of fairness...

      The mean old Register wrote an article in which they're not ejaculating all over my lover's latest iWatch rumour, and my butt hurts now.

    2. SpiderPig

      Re: In the interests of fairness...

      I think we should also include those "features" that Apple crow on about that the rest of the mobile phone manufacturers, especially Nokia, had for years before the iPhone.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple Oh Apple, how innovative are thee?

    "The Lisa was the first mass-market personal computer to be based around a graphical-user interface – *inspired* by research work that Steve Jobs and other Apple execs *had seen* at Xerox"

    Copying again! Tut Tut

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No mention of iOS 7 UI?

    Must be one of the most revolting interfaces I have ever seen

    1. John 62

      Serious question:

      what's wrong with it?

      Perhaps the multi-tasking vs Springboard dichotomy is a bit disjointed (better than touch-wiz's identical-looking widgets vs applications screens though) and the little chevrons for the notification shade and control centre aren't quite in line with the Helvetica Light look, but seriously, please share your thoughts.

  28. Spacedman

    Like what?

    "But, like so many of Apple’s belly flops, the Pippin was wildly overpriced."

    So like all Apple products then?

  29. Turtle

    Internal Contradictions

    "To be fair, some of its failures have been truly glorious. The oft-critiqued Power Mac G4 Cube may have been overpriced and underpowered, but it was a marvel of engineering that remains unmatched by most desktop PC designs to this day."

    "Then there’s Apple’s fondness for form over function...."

    To me, personally, extolling the design of the G4 Cube, and then condemning Apple's "fondness for form over function" seems a bit schizophrenic...

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Internal Contradictions

      Were they "extolling the design of the G4 Cube"? They did say "a marvel of engineering", not "of design".

      Mind you, I've no idea what marvelous engineering they could be referring to either. I admit I've never taken a G4 Cube apart to see what's in its belly, but the sources I consulted could only come up with "hey, they made this thing pretty small". Well, gosh. What will those engineers do next?

      1. FutureShock999

        Re: Internal Contradictions

        It was an amazing piece of thermal engineering to manage the hot air flow within the cube to make it that small. Really amazingly well done, and how they were able to make it so small. Most generic PC makers simply bolt on more shrieking 80cm fans into the case and make it larger to aide airflow...the G4 was quiet and small. Great engineering.

  30. AppleGrammar

    Grammar Nazi

    OK, we can accept Jobs' "special needs" with regards to anything involving intellect and education, but, really...

    "Think 'different'"


    "You're holding it 'wrong'"?!

    Surely someone in Apple knew the difference between an adverb and an adjective?

  31. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Apple not the only victim of '80s chip sockets

    The most common way to fix a computer in the '80s was to open it up and push the socketed chips back down. If someone needed a computer to work reliably after a car journey (or a delivery to Scotland) I fitted spring clips to hold the chips in place.

  32. 45RPM Silver badge

    Missed two, got two wrong…

    First, I think that you're being unfair on the iPhone 4 and the Apple IIc. The IIc is a lovely little machine - as long as you don't think of it as being a portable. The Commodore 64 wasn't (usually) a portable, the IIc is no different. The IIc was rather more useful than the venerable Commodore though (unless, of course, your main use was playing games.) I'm sure that you wouldn't regard the C64 as a dud - would you?

    The iPhone 4. Seriously? I know that there was a lot of hype about antenna issues but, in my experience, the antenna issues are minor at worst - and certainly no more game stopping than the antenna issues suffered by its contemporaries. The iPhone 3G and 3GS, on the other hand, really were stinkers. I lost track of the number of iPhone 3Gs that I had to get replaced. Slow, clunky and fragile. I've still got my iPhone 4. Got it in the first week that it came out, and I've been using it (without bumper or case) ever since. I like it so much that I can't see the point of replacing it, at least until Apple comes out with an iOS that it can't run.

    Misses? What about the original Macintosh? Yeah, yeah, I know. It was a game changer. But it can be a game changer and a bag of shite at the same time. RSI from swapping its woefully small disks (honestly - how hard would it have been to go for double sided from the start? 400k is not enough!), and a memory that was just embarrassing. 128k? Okay, I get that bigger chips weren't available during the design stages - but that just underlines the need for a more capable multiplexer and socketed RAM. Didn't think it through, did they?

    Ah yes. And System 7.5.x. The biggest miss of all. The worst OS of all time. So bad, I reverted to System 7.1. Windows 8 users, get this - because it'll put your woes into perspective. System 7.5 had a bug that caused the Mac to crash regularly (Error type 11, if I recall correctly). That's okay(ish) - you just learn to save regularly. Except that System 7.5 didn't write the bloody allocation table out until shutdown - it cached it instead. So you could save all you liked - but, unless you followed each save with a restart, your work was lost. As for the error? They fixed it in 7.5.3 - by simple expedient of renaming it to something else. Genius. Shortly after Steve Jobs came back, Mac OS 7.6 was released. It was System 7.5, done right. I upgraded to that version right away!

  33. RTNavy

    Product Miss

    They forgot that OS X Patch that physically broke Fire Wire drives, until a much later Firmware update for those same "broken" drives was made to prevent this failure...10.2.7..BTW the Firmware update didn't "revive" the broken drives, it only prevented existing drives not yet killed from failing.

  34. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Have never ever heard of the "Pippin"

    That is one I'd missed. Hats off for digging that one up.

    1. Dave 126

      Re: Have never ever heard of the "Pippin"

      They were strange times, those early nineties when Nintendo and Sega ruled the console roost... weird things like Pippin, Amstrad Mega-PC and Sega Teradrve (PC/Megadrive combined machine), Philip's CDi, the 3DO concept, Sega Mega-CD, Amiga-CD were being announced... many of which were trying to get into the latest 'thing' at the time: multimedia.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I recall the Lisa, it was, for its time, a truly wonderful machine that made the contemporary PC's look utterly obsolete; however the price was also truly phenomenal and killed it for all its usage advantages. It came with a set of 6 software packages too, including LisaCalc which looked (and functioned) just like the later released Excel, so much so that I've always wondered if Apple didn't do a deal with MS to handover the LisaCalc code in exchange for an MS spreadsheet for the Macintosh. There was also a LisaWrite, Draw, Project, Graph, and List; plus a terminal function.

    The underlying OS looked a lot like a version of Xenix, and there were several applications developed to run native on this outside (sadly) the graphics interface. Apparently (according to Wiki) though the OS is said to be at least partially derived from the planned Apple III SOS operating system.

    The Lisa "space" also included the adoption of Postscript for output once the laser printers became available, otherwise there were the 10" DMPs or a typewriter style letter quality printer.

    Also worth mentioning is the hardware side, one could dissemble virtually the entire machine without tools as it used thumbscrew fasteners, with everything handled on separate daughter boards with (get this, in the early 1980's) zero insertion force interfaces; you could lock/unlock the board interface. Even the mainboard was removable, and all the boards were pretty huge with a lot of discrete components. The floppies were good when they worked, but the lack of (initially) an internal hard disk was an oversight, to make it work properly the Lisa needed a hard disk. Amazing that we could manage with a single 5 Mb "ProFile" disk, although 2 were better.

    The Lisa was undoubtedly a complete tour-de-force, just so far ahead in functionality that had it been priced reasonably and competitively it surely would have changed the face of personal computing. But the entire issue was the price and presumably the cost; could Apple have possibly sold the Lisa at a competitive cost and ever recouped their investment ? By discarding it of course they lost that investment anyway, but could the cost ever have been lowered enough to manufacture units at a marginal profit per unit sold ? I suspect not, but I still thought it was simply the most complete PC style machine ever produced until the best Win NT or XP or OSX machines came out 15 or more years later.

    A strategic failure, certainly, but what a great attempt to actually produce a truly innovative machine.

  36. Daniel von Asmuth

    10 MacMIstakes

    1) The silly video game, called GUI or desktop or Finder

    2) You needed a morse key, called mouse, plus a third hand to use it

    3) You could not do anything with it because there was no command line

    4) The screen was too small

    5) The screen was only black-and-white (Apple II had color)

    6) The screen was built into the system case

    7) There were no expansion slots (Apple II had 8)

    8) The floppy disc drive lacked an eject button

    9) Connecting a printer was only possible at the serial port, with an incompatible connector.

    10) The OS was more primitive than MS-DOS

    11) There was no BASIC or other programming language shipped with the system.

    12) Software? You could buy MS Word and Excel (on later models).

    13) It was twice as expensive as an equivalent Atari ST or Commodore Amiga.

    The good news:

    A) Few people mourned the lack of an audio-cassette drive

    B) It had a real CISC processor

    C) It had more RAM than the PC

    D) Successor models came with SCSI discs.

    E) AppleTalk was more advanced than the COM: ports of the PC

    F) It was as cheap as the original IBM PC had been in 1981.

    1. Daniel B.


      Yeah, AppleTalk was far better than COM: or even LPT: back then. It worked like a boxy Token-Ring-ish LAN as well, though these capabilities weren't really exploitable out of the box until System 7 came out. Printers could be connected to the AppleTalk network though, which was pretty awesome for that time.

      I still remember that the first LAN ever at home was AppleTalk-based, so much that my later PC had an LPT to AppleTalk adapter to talk with the rest of the home LAN. Ah, those were the days...

  37. smartypants

    5300c was my apple exit. Never looked back since

    We had Macs at university - mac pluses and the colour workstations (can't remember the name now), and for years afterwards I bought a string of machines culminating in the 5300c - the first laptop with an active matrix LCD. The screen was glorious.

    However, the software was utter shite. This was the early days of the internet, and on average the thing would crash about 4 times a night. When it was working, it was so damned slow - not so much from the processing power on offer - but the idiot OS wouldn't let me do quite trivial multi-tasking operations.

    I finally cracked and got a Digital laptop (RIP) running windows 95. Apart from a few niggles I never looked back. I lose count of how much money I've saved by not having to buy the latest precious ithing each year or three.

    When I look at macs now, the single most irritating things are the startup noise (which reminds me of my crashy piece of shit that was the 5300c) and the way that you're still forced to have a single menu at the top of the screen. Fine on a mac plus but not on a 2K monitor with a load of different things on the screen at the same time. Oh and you can keep your glossy screen too. What's the point of that?

  38. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    "the TAM was ahead of its time"

    The TAM was only ahead in looks. At heart it was a sluggish PPC 603e budget Mac with a blue-screen trick to overlay NTSC video onto the screen. The kinds of fanatics who'd pay top dollar for a fancy Mac also knew which architectures to avoid. Too many people also know that "Bose" symbolizes an idiot and his money parting.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd add to my Lisa rant by including the document centric way of using software which was new as well. It had this great idea where you could create a "stationary pad" of a document with a specific formatting and by double clicking on it one started with a specific document layout. Far simpler and more intuitive than style sheets.

    And the Project package was great, a little rudimentary but is was a starter version, and it worked beautifully for what it was; easy to use as well. Even the draw program was useful as it was a structured drawing program, great for form design and that sort of thing, not a "Paint" style doodling tool. The Calc didn't quite have 1-2-3 powers, it lacked macros for a start, but otherwise it had all of Excel's advantages in terms of great layout and ease of use.

    As one can see, I was very enamoured of the product, and still think it was one of the greatest missed opportunities. A $9,995 price tag just killed it even though that price was probably competitive with a similarly configured PC, most PCs weren't so configured.

  40. Bladeforce

    Actually theres a few on that list that were quite good

    but theres plenty that arent on that list that should be!

  41. scottman

    Why Do You Bother?

    The Register always seems to bash Apple and I find that it boring. This article indicates that you've really had to dredge up something to make deadline. There was a period where your articles were well written and balanced but the last few years have shown a direction that is petty and juvenile.

    Constructive criticism is great. However, material such as this only reminds me that your behavior is reminiscent of the view I have of a horse as it's walking away from me.

    Oh, yes, your village is looking for you.

    1. James O'Brien

      Re: Why Do You Bother?

      Apparently you are new here and don't know how things work. ElReg has been on crApple's shit list for so long that I don't even remember the reason why.

      As for any other qualms you might have with how Apple is represented by ElReg, stick around, they tend to bash everyone and everything equally given the time. And the majority of it is pretty damn funny.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      The Register bashes everything and everyone if there is a point - contrary to your post.

      Where were you in these occasions ?

      Yeah, nowhere to be seen. You probably didn't even read them, and you sure as hell didn't comment.

      So if you go cherry-picking your way through El Reg and only read Apple-specific stuff, then you have no right to complain about the general content of this site which you apparently ignore. You have even less right to mention anything about constructive criticism.

      You are, however, perfectly correct in mentioning pettiness, except that you have the wrong target.

  42. SpiderPig

    Another for the list

    Screwing with Aperture and taking it from the best photography workflow program to a crappy hasbeen. The winner is Apple's old foe Adobe with Lightroom which is now light years ahead.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Antennagate was, just like Maps, a non-event wrapped in media hype. After all, it's not like the majority of the smartphones on the market at the time of the iPhone 4 release has antenna issues. Similarly, Google Maps never had any teething problems when it was new. The proof lies in the numbers; iPhone 4 and 4s still sell around the world in massive quantities and Maps is used by more people on iOS than Google Maps.

    1. smartypants

      No, really, we don't need any more Jobs-appleogists here.

      Antennagate was newsworthy because:

      1) Style displaced function. The people who know about things were displaced by the people who thought they did. This needs to be punished.

      2) When the consequences hit the headlines, instead of dealing with the issue professionally, the people in charge acted in a 'loss of face management' way, i.e. denying basic physics and claiming the users are to blame. This needs to be punished.

      Apple clearly have done a large number of things right over the years since I stopped being a customer - with the move to being a content retailer perhaps being the most significant, but you do them no favours by making excuses for their failures.

      And anyone who claims there is an apple vendetta... here: perhaps you've been missing coverage of the windows 8 debacle?

  44. ecofeco Silver badge

    Ah Macromedia

    Now there's a real crying shame right there.

    A company WAY ahead of its time and after it was sold off, mostly to Adobe, the software was ruined and crippled. Version 8 of the Dreamweaver design suite was the last good and affordable version.

    And speaking of Adobe, wow, did they ever lose their way. They have probably done more to hurt Apple in this century than all of Apple's blunders combined.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  45. beep54

    Fucking magnets! [sorry, I had to]

  46. BongoJoe

    One More To The List, my friends

    I haven't used all of the products on that list but the one Apple product which was the bane of my life when it was popular was QuickTime.

    The thing was never backwards compatible (they clearly came up with that innovation before Micosoft) and trying to run something which required a different version of QT meant uninstalling what we had, finding the new version, trying to run the application and then found that due to some DLL nightmare harking back to telnet.dll experiences it would never run anything requiring QuickTime again.

    QuickTime was so bad that unless one had just the one application requiring it (it was Myst for me) then nothing would work at all.

    It was shoddy and simply worse than useless and a by-word for nearly all PC based Apple software and I note that the same level of quality had oozed into iTunes.

    I don't care which one El Reg moves off the list but remove one as QuickTIme needs to be on there.

  47. JonHendry

    Apple IIc was good enough to get cloned

    "Falling back on the ever-reliable Apple II once more, Apple developed a carry-around model called the IIc in 1984. The "c" stood for compact, and the slimlime design of the IIc, complete with an integrated keyboard and a carry handle at the back, was an obvious predecessor of the more successful iMac."

    I don't think the IIc was a failure at all. It was a much sleeker and compact package than the Apple IIe, which I expect was quite appealing to people. It wasn't very portable, but it was much more portable than the typical Apple II setup, especially if you had a TV or monitor to use at the destination and only had to carry the IIc and its hefty power brick. Many Apple II setups had the computer, a monitor (larger than the Apple IIc's), and two big full-height 5.25" floppy drives. Taking that apart and moving it would be a lot more work than moving a IIc.

    It wasn't really meant as a portable in the way we think of one, but it was pretty *transportable* for the time and the price. Remember, the *intended-to-be-portable* 1984 IBM Portable PC 5155 computer weighed 13 kg and cost $4225. The 1984 HP 110 with an LCD and battery weighed 4 kg and cost $3,000, but had no hard disk or floppy, just applications in ROM and some RAM was used as a RAM disk.

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