The Big Think

December 22, 2004

Apple Stealth

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 12:26 pm

Ron Avitzur has the incredible story behind the development of Apple’s Graphing Calculator here. Don’t miss this one. From sneaking into the Apple building after dark to coopting the internal manpower resources of likeminded engineers, this is Pirate engineering at its best.


In October, when we thought we were almost finished, engineers who had been helping us had me demonstrate our software to their managers. A dozen people packed into my office. I didn’t expect their support, but I felt obliged to make a good-faith effort to go through their official channels. I gave a twenty-minute demonstration, eliciting “oohs” and “ahhs.” Afterward, they asked, “Who do you report to? What group are you in? Why haven’t we seen this earlier?” I explained that I had been sneaking into the building and that the project didn’t exist. They laughed, until they realized I was serious. Then they told me, “Don’t repeat this story.”
Graphing Calculator has been part of the Macintosh ever since. Teachers around the world use it as an animated blackboard to illustrate abstract concepts visually. It shipped on more than twenty million machines. It never officially existed.

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