Revisiting Wired’s ‘101 Ways to Save Apple’ article from 1997

Wired June 1997“This list is a detailed followup to Wired’s ‘101 Ways to Save Apple‘ from June 1997. There have been other followups to the original list, but none of them went into any great detail. I like studying things in depth and I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time watching Apple, so here’s my take on a followup list,” Derek Trideja blogs.

“This page is link-happy, so grab some coffee and click on all of them,” Trideja writes. “Wherever possible, I’ve linked to the exact moment during an Apple keynote video where an announcement was made so you don’t have to take my words at face value.”

Trideja writes, “Cast yourself back to Apple’s darkest days—the mid-1990s when Apple repeatedly failed to replace its aging operating system, shipped hardware that was beige, boring and buggy, all while the company hemorrhaged money. ‘We’ were all certain Apple was about to die.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “We” weren’t at all certain, but we certainly were worried.

[Attribution: Cult of Mac. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

32 Comments

  1. Sure I was worried too… but I was also frustrated. Apple made good and innovative products, they had vision for the future and they were a debt free company. They were innovative in their employee benefits and they had a sense of humor that was sorely lacking in other tech companies. My frustration was (and still is) that I didn’t have the money to invest in their stocks.

    1. Not even one share? If not then you dont have any money to invest in anything.

      I bought 10 shares of Google and I thought of it like 100 or 1000 shares. Number of shares does not mean anything.

    2. Back in the “dark days” Apple was absolutely NOT “debt free”. It was like virtually every other tech company and using a significant amount of debt — not unwisely, but it was still debt.

      Also in the “dark days” Apple’s leadership had virtually NO “vision for the future”. They couldn’t even get the 7.x System out without significant bugs. It was vulnerable to viruses and worse. The hardware was buggy. They made pricing moves that hurt (remember the price INCREASE for the G4 systems?). Hell, I knew of one reseller who bought several thousand LCs because the got a deal from Apple. Then within a month Apple lowered the Suggested Retail Price to less then the reseller paid for them. The reseller dumped them at a loss and vowed to NEVER do business with Apple again. Apple did many, many things wrong.

      Say what you will, but Amelio started the turn around. He just wasn’t the man for Apple. However, he did make to move to bring Steve back and the NeXT team in. That really started the turn around.

      Once Steve and his team were back Steve started rebuilding Apple. It took time, but by 2001 Apple was absolutely on its way back.

      I, like many people, wish I’d have had the guts to put $10,000 into Apple stock back when it was about $12 a share (*before* the stock split! — so an equivalent of about $6 a share after the split).

      1. I think you’ll find that when Steve returned, after the Next purchase, there was in excess of $1 billion in the bank.

        Apple never went into debt. It was still doing quite well with it’s overpriced hardware until Windows 95 hit the fan.

      2. Steve was in charge when the G4 was introduced – you’re openly contradicting yourself.

        Also you’re claiming here that all competitors of Apple at that time provided significantly better service. That’s two strikes toward troll status.

    3. With companies such as ING Sharebuilder you can invest by dollar amount instead of share price- i.e. in incremental amounts. There are others that follow this model, but I think they were the first to offer this.
      If you want to buy Apple $10 an investment , $50 or whatever you can.
      Not advertising, just passing it along.

  2. All I knew back then was that I hated “computers” because they never worked right. What I didn’t know was that I didn’t hate computers – I hated the Winblows OS. Once I used a Mac for the first time, I was hooked.

    Wait, what was the topic again?

    1. The topic is “How Apple fucked up royally under the management of John Sculley, Michael Spindler & Gil Amelio and how the second coming of Jesus Christ, I mean Steven P Jobs, resurrected Apple from the graveyard of lost tech titans like Lazarus risen from the dead.”

      1. Thank you, MizuInOz. I probably wasn’t going to click on that shortened link anyway, certainly not for another iPad 2 rumour, but your comment will certainly help others to merrily ignore it.

    1. They borrow some money from Steve Jobs…

      No, seriously. Apple had in that time a base of loyal customers that provided Apple with good money. For how long will it lasts, I don’t know, but the fact is they still had clients.

      Life is like a box of chocolates, but Apple selected the best out of it.

  3. “beige, boring and buggy”

    Beige I grant, but boring and buggy? Not in comparison to Windows with its 8 color limitation, viruses, inability to drag between “programs”(apps), and frequent lock-ups.

    In 1995 I was instructed to upgrade my workplace to a “Graphic User Interface” as my boss put it. I was a long time Mac user and after comparison the only logical choice I could make was Windows. MacOS fell a distant third, way behind IBM’s OS2.

    What killed the Mac in our enterprise was:
    1. OS9’s inability to limit networked users to specific harddrives/filesystems,
    2. Its lack of ability to run legacy DOS apps and therefore a lack of existing software to run our business,
    3. It required all new (expensive) Apple hardware and retraining.

    Windows, for all its faults allowed us to run all our CLI DOS programs while adding newer GUI software as it came available. It allowed basic security features like restriction of networked users from having access to the boss’s computer, accounting files and vice-versa. It could be applied to our existing 486 IBM hardware instead of requiring purchase of all new hardware. It required little retraining as would MacOS or OS2.

    Moving to Windows at that time was a no-brainer.

    By 1998 the world was running Windows. Macs and PCs at that time could not properly parse each other’s emails, let alone Word processing files, and the IE was setting internet standards making surfing the web a constant irritation for the Mac user. I stopped recommending them to home users for the next three to four years.

    I bought a new G4 tower running OSX10.1 in 2001 fully expecting it to be my last. In short, I knew the potential of OSX, had hope eternal, and knowingly gambled. At that point, my emails from Windows users often lacked pictures, having “pink boxes” instead. Macs couldn’t parse Windows video or audio files, they choked on IE compliant sites, meaning a large part of the world was becoming shut off to the Mac user. When Steve Jobs got IE on the Mac, it saved Apple as much as anything else. When emulators finally broke through to allow Macs to run Windows, and web standards became set, finally Macs had a chance and their death wasn’t so imminent.

  4. I was worried too. I was using a 7100 — what a bloody turkey. Whether it was the OS or the machine, stripped of all extensions, it still crashed several times a day. It nearly, very nearly, drove me to Windoze.

    Fortunately, patience paid off. Nowadays, my three year old iMac is still streets ahead of any of the new Windoze boxes my friends and associates use. I now feels kinda good to have stuck with Apple during the dark years, but it wasn’t easy at the time.

  5. Bought a Performa 6200 CD at the height of Windows 95 hysteria. If I remember right, I upgraded to 40 mb of ram and used Connectix Ramdoubler to squeeze every last drop out of that dog of a computer. Used it for 5 (!!) years until I bought a G4 Cube.

    Now I am typing on a 15″ Unibody MacBook Pro with anti-glare display. My how far we have progressed. Can’t wait to see what we will be using in 16 more years.

    1. i remember around the same time i bought a performa 6360 at Sears, while windows was all the talk. I used it all through college. My papers came out perfect. My instructors were always shocked when i told them i use Appleworks instead of Office. It was a shame windows was so big.

  6. Apple was not hemorrhaging money at that time. They had $1.5B in the bank, no debt, and made a profit more quarters than not. They also had some of the best engineers in the business, and the old, clunky Mac OS was still way better than windows. What they lacked prior to the return of Steve, was vision and focus.

    1. Thanks for being in agreement. From my own experience in Australia and Canada, university departments that changed to Windas in mid to late 90s mostly regretted the change BIGTIME, as crashes, viruses.. catastrophic time- and data losses brought whole departments and even the whole uni network to their knees. (My own dept in Oz [chem.] held out bravely against the evil Microsoft toadies in ITS, and lived to sneer away at the depts that caved in, like Biochem and Admin., etc.)

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.