The amazing true story of Project Marklar; how Mac OS X for Intel was born

“I’ve been meaning to tell this story for a while,” Kim Scheinberg writes for Covestor.

“The year is 2000. My husband (JK) has been working at Apple for 13 years. Our son is a year old, and we want to move back to the East Coast to live near our parents. To do this, my husband will need to be granted permission to telecommute. This means he can’t be working on a team project and needs to find something independent to do,” Scheinberg writes. “The plan to move is a long-range plan. JK lays the groundwork early to start splitting his time between his Apple office and his home office. [By 2002, he is working at home full-time in California.]”

MacDailyNews Note: In June 2000, John Kullmann, Scheinberg’s husband, emailed his boss at Apple, Joe Sokol, about the possibility of working on Mac OS X for Intel.

Scheinberg writes, “Eighteen months go by. In December 2001, Joe tells JK, ‘I need to justify your salary in my budget. Show me what you’re working on.’ …In JK’s office [at Apple], Joe watches in amazement as JK boots up an Intel PC and up on the screen comes the familiar ‘Welcome to Macintosh’. Joe pauses, silent for a moment, then says, ‘I’ll be right back.’ He comes back a few minutes later with Bertrand Serlet.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Intel-based Macs running both Mac OS X and Windows will be good for Apple – June 10, 2005


    1. Too bad the story is flat out a lie….Some jack ass trying to get credit for something that existed (and I had running on my PC along with what became X-code) in the late 90’s.

      I got six words for y’all:
      yellow box
      blue box
      green box

      just my $0.02

  1. If OS X hasn’t been ported to Intel, I would likely still be a Windows fanboy. The fact that I could run Windows in emulation mode or in its own partition within the hard drive gave me the confidence to transition to the Mac. Also OS X seemed to run much, much faster on an Intel chip than a PowerPC chip. I always thought the Mac lagged in performance compared to a PC during the PowerPC days. That was my impression anyway.

    For millions of converts like me, the safety net of running Windows in case we needed it weighed heavily to Apple’s advantage. I felt too that IBM and Motorola combined did not have the design chops of Intel when it came to manufacturing consumer and professional grade processors, although RISC compared to CISC was a more streamlined way of processing machine level instructions.

    1. I still believe some tasks in Windows on a Intel PC run much faster then OSX on Intel to date, however, I rather have stability and security over a few extra seconds of speed.

      1. Windows has what is known as supercaching which is a way to boost performance. But this is only really apparent during app start up – when you first boot up an app.

        The difference between Windows & OS X philosophy towards windowing is that in Windows, the window is active, so when you close the window, you close the program. In OS X terms, the window is a frame around which the app runs so that when you close the window, the app remains open, but does not draw on system resources.

        This difference in approach means that you can have multiple apps or windows to apps open in a Mac without in any way appreciably eroding performance but if you have too many windows open in Windows you are likely to cause a drag in performance. This is why Windows stresses the need to close active windows and reopen them again which is where superfetch or supercache comes into play.

        With the Mac when you leave mulitple apps open, all you need do is cycle between the apps or restore hidden windows if so desired. I don’t normally manage my apps windows in a Mac as I do that through different desktops (used to be known as Spaces in Snow Leopard) so windows/apps can be left open all the time without cluttering your working desktop.

        This in some ways obviates the need for supercaching and makes the Mac run faster as all apps are open all the time. Also the sleep function in a Mac is better implemented so you don’t have to close the app to put the machine to sleep and all apps are ready and available the moment you wake the machine up from sleep.

        1. @ BLN – You are truly interesting individual. I’ve been reading your posts for awhile now. Sometimes you come across like a complete troll. Other times like a fanboy. And sometimes like a professional. I’ll keep reading….

    2. It wasn’t the PowerPC CPU itself that was slow, it was the system bus that supported it being the bottle neck. Read about the G4 500 MHz CPU stuck in time debacle when Motorola couldn’t solve the system bus issue (or didn’t seem to care to)!

  2. NeXTSTEP was Intel x86 compatible (not to mention the Motorola 68000 family processors used in NeXT computers, Sun SPARC, and HP PA-RISC-based systems.)

    From the tone of the article, it might occur to many that Steve and the rest of Apple were oblivious or asleep at the wheel far as dual chips support.

    This is how the author concluded:
    “I’ve lost track of the many reasons that have been given for the switch to Intel, but this I know for sure:

    No one has ever reported that, for 18 months, Project Marklar existed only because a self-demoted engineer wanted his son Max to be able to live closer to Max’s grandparents.”

    Project Marklar maybe, but probably not the dream of Intel compatible Mac OS X.

    People more familiar with the matter may correct me on this.

    1. NeXT had their NeXTSTEP operating system running on Intel processors in the mid-90s… it was called OpenSTEP.

      In addition, projects written in Objective-C could be compiled to run on NeXTSTEP, OpenSTEP, HP-UX and even Windows NT from the same source code. NeXTSTEP and OpenSTEP ran these apps natively since the OS already included the necessary user controls and classes, but NeXT also provided the necessary runtime libraries to distribute (along with your app) to the other operating systems.

      If you write code for Mac OS X and iOS apps using Xcode, then you are writing in Objective-C, and you’ll note that many of the classes still start with the “NS” prefix (for NextStep).

      When Apple bought NeXT (and Steve Jobs), they inherited this technology as well. NexTSTEP evolved into Mac OS X so there is no reason to believe the Intel history would have been forgotten or abandoned — I suspect “JK” was the custodian.

      Does anyone else remember NeXT’s Blue Box, Red Box and Yellow Box?… that’s some history for another day.

  3. Shows you how frail and tenuous some things are. I always wondered if Andy Ihnakto continuously chanting ‘Blue Tooth’ was what got Apple moving. Or how many ideas Apple culls from MDN?

  4. Oh Puhlease….
    There were DP’s of yellow box for intel (the original versions of OS X) released to developers. It was originally going to be dual platform. That it was kept updated is really no surprise (even to people on the outside).
    If joe was surprised at the existence of an intel version then he should have been steve’d 😉 (for being completely clueless)

    1. TOTALLY agree. It was well known, that Apple needed a new chip to replace the PPC to stay alive. With the new OS, OSX and a new Chip, there is no doubt both were planned; hand in hand.

  5. “The next morning, Steve Jobs is on a plane to Japan to meet with the President of Sony.”

    I’ve never heard Sony being involved in any way with the Mac, or providing software/content for it specifically, so what would be the reason for this? Surely not to source Sony hardware for dev/testing, or convince the Sony president to that his company be the Mac OSX hardware-of-choice.

    1. I’m not saying it’s true in this particular case, but Apple and Sony have worked together on hardware. Google “Sony PowerBook 100” and do some reading…

  6. Total nonsense. OS X on Intel always existed because NeXTSTEP on Intel was maintained after Apple acquired NeXT. Quite a few dev seeds went out the door with PPC & Intel support up until the release of Mac OS X. The dev tools on Mac OS X have always supported Intel.

  7. So, Apple supported Intel cpu’s, Apple probably supports Arm and Power PC cpu’s, and by extension Cell cpu’s behind the scenes in the back room, they have to for their long range survival as Google is about find out next week with Maps. By the way two or three big companies will be going back to the drawing board after next week.

Reader Feedback

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