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A Brief History of Features Apple Has Killed 461

Technologizer writes "Some folks are outraged over the lack of FireWire in the new MacBook released this week. But Apple wouldn't be Apple if it didn't move faster than any other computer company to kill technologies that may be past their prime. And history usually validates its decisions. We've posted a decade's worth of examples that prove the point."
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A Brief History of Features Apple Has Killed

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  • audio recording (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guinsu ( 198732 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:20PM (#25419247)

    I would love to know what Apple expects basement musicians to use to record multitrack audio. Firewire is way better suited to that and frankly after buying mics, instruments, amps, and mic preamps that group tends not to have an extra $1000 for a computer.

  • Yay for logic (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:34PM (#25419443)

    If you look at back and conclude that apple killing features was right because they killed features, that says more about your grasp of logic than whether it was right or merely pushing an agenda.

    In this case I can see where they come from, what with eSATA possibly taking over the tasks that USB2/3/... cannot gracefully deal with. That doesn't mean that firewire was inferior technology, far from it. Just that it wasn't loved enough. Which is easy to see when you realise its faults lie in failure to have spawned a large market of dancing gadgets and coffee cup warmers powered by it.

    In that respect I am happy to see the outcry. Some people do see its value.

  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:36PM (#25419475)

    Firewire isn't past its prime. Apple wanted to further differentiate the consumer and pro versions of their laptops, and Steve Jobs' comment about recent consumer camcorders using USB is a reflection f that. Firewire is still used in the professional space for audio and other high-bandwidth data transfer situations where you don't want the CPU bogged down.

  • Re:dumb much? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:01PM (#25419753)

    From what I read, they just plain removed it and users are left without an alternative.

    Is there no USB 2.0, which is nearly equal and has the huge advantage of being more mainstream?

    The whole article is a troll. I mean "they killed the floppy" that was in the original Mac? Hell they *invented* the scheme that let them store twice as much as PC's did on the same size floppy media. That was great, but now we're all thankful that the floppy is obsolete.

    They "killed" nuBus once PCI finally came along and was mainstream. Before that, nuBus, which they invented, kicked @ss over the PC's crappy bus, which was slower and didn't allow for plug-and-play -- you had to move address jumpers on the cards before you installed them.

    Back in the day it *was* a pain that Apple hardware was special and more expensive than PC hardware. People complained about lock-in and expense, but it was also often better than the PC hardware of its day. Now it's almost a little sad that Apple isn't the one leading the way on those architectural components, though they still lead on design. (Remember when the G4 came out and it was small and *quiet*? Now you can get a cheap Dell that is small and quiet.)

    I have never owned an Apple, but I *am* a fan of their past hardware innovations. Oh, and: Get off my lawn!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:03PM (#25419771)

    kd and Windbg, the Windows kernel/full-strength debuggers, rely on either serial (yes, RS-232) or Firewire to work. In theory, Vista and above support debugging via USB 2.0, but support seems to be spotty in practice.

    I'm sure Apple's primary market isn't people developing drivers for windows, but it is going to make it just a bit harder to debug your stuff on a MacBook if you need to. After all, somebody is going to put boot camp on there and expect things to work. It's going to be a real treat for the dev who has to fix the things that don't.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by altek ( 119814 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:14PM (#25419885) Homepage

    I am thinking that they are starting to try to wean people off of FW because USB3 is on the cusp of becoming available in consumer devices. It will likely replace both USB2 and FW.

  • by jacksonj04 ( 800021 ) <> on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:28PM (#25420021) Homepage

    If you're doing beefy AV processing yes, you're going to have a MacBook Pro, or a suitable desktop (PC alternatives are available, but this is an Apple thread so I'll stick to Mac).

    However, Apple touts iLife as one of the big selling points of Macs, and iMovie 08 is a part of that. MacBooks are more than powerful enough to rip your home movie and chop it about in iMovie to share with family, but without a FireWire port you're going to have an awful time importing video, often having to use an external adapter or some proprietary USB method. FireWire provided a DV standard for getting video off a camcorder, and was part of the 'plug in your camcorder and make a movie' thing which Apple markets to pretty much everybody who buys a Mac.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HSpirit ( 519997 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:49PM (#25420207)

    *Seen a firewire device

    I have a firewire iPod mini (yes, it's old - but it still works, why should I get rid of it?), three firewire backup drives for the old G4 we use as a server at my workplace (yes, again, it's old - but it's an inexpensive recycling of old equipment for a useful purpose which has enabled our small business to free up cash for other uses).

    *Seen a firewire port on anything besides a faulty motherboard I once had

    Just so this doesn't appear like a Mac-only rant, my wife's 2 year old PC also has Firewire built into the motherboard. On anything but cheap PC trash it's pretty ubiquitous...

    *Seen anyone using a firewire device

    Then you don't get out much.

    I don't think many people care, at least here in Australia. :\

    Well I'm in Australia and I will certainly be keeping clear of the MacBook - but then again, I agree with another post's suggestion that this is part of an Apple strategy to (a) ease the market away from Firewire, and (b) differentiate the MacBook market (student etc. that uses their Mac for nothing more than web/email/productivity apps) from the MacBook Pro which is for users that want all the bells and whistles and are prepared to pay for them.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gapagos ( 1264716 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:56PM (#25420263)

    You know, I do think Apple did get rid of floppy drives too early, although obviously nobody needs them anymore.

    I'm only 22, and and when I lived with my dad we were in Ivory Coast (West Africa) in 1998 where I was 12 years old.

    My dad, who knows very little about computers, had bought an iMac before leaving. (the old and colorful ones)
    It was the early times of CDs, and for some reason because of it, Apple "decided" that floppies were obsolete and did not feature a floppy drive on their iMacs anymore.
    It was also the early times of CDs, and iMacs did not include any burning (CD-R) capabilities on their CD drives EITHER.
    USB flash memory did not exist either at the time.

    No CD-R.
    No A: drive
    No USB drives.

    The ONLY option for me to "export" any document from my iMac for stuff like school work, was through the Internet.

    Needless to say, Internet service was not easily available in WEST AFRICA in 1998, at least in my neighborhood.

    Let me tell you: It really sucked. And my dad was too stubborn to buy any other machine, and I couldn't pay for one myself. (once again: I was 12).

    Since then I hated Apple with a passion for the 9 following years.
    I stopped because I bought a macbook for university last year and it is surprisingly extremely efficient, durable, it boots very fast, and has a very good battery life.

    But I still get annoyed sometimes at Apple for this "know-better-than-you" attitude that they keep showing over & over.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hes Nikke ( 237581 ) <{slashdot} {at} {}> on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:33PM (#25420591) Journal

    were you thinking of this []? Steve forced the removal of the diagnostic port from the original Macintosh because he thought it could be used for augmenting the system. X_X

    Burrell decided to add a single, simple slot to his Macintosh design, which made the processor's bus accessible to peripherals, that wouldn't cost very much, especially if it wasn't used. He worked out the details and proposed it at the weekly staff meeting, but Steve immediately nixed his proposal, stating that there was no way that the Mac would even have a single slot.

    But Burrell was not that easily thwarted. He realized that the Mac was never going to have something called a slot, but perhaps the same functionality could be called something else. After talking it over with Brian, they decided to start calling it the "diagnostic port" instead of a slot, arguing that it would save money during manufacturing if testing devices could access the processor bus to diagnose manufacturing errors. They didn't mention that the same port would also provide the functionality of a slot.

    This was received positively at first, but after a couple weeks, engineering manager Rod Holt caught on to what was happening, probably aided by occasional giggles when the diagnostic port was mentioned. "That things really a slot, right? You're trying to sneak in a slot!", Rod finally accused us at the next engineering meeting. "Well, that's not going to happen!"

  • eSATA? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by __aatskl8715 ( 621624 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:05PM (#25420827)
    I'm happy to give up Firewire, but why not throw on an eSATA port? This seems like the way to go for external hard drives.
  • Re:Outrage! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:17PM (#25420889) Homepage

    But as has been repeated pointed out, the MacBook is a consumer grade device. I know, I have one. The MBP, the Mac Pro, and the iMac still have firewire. Technically the Mac Mini does too, but I wouldn't be surprised if it goes away in the next rev. Firewire has proven to be a pro-spec. The main people that use it are audio and video pros or dedicated amateurs. It makes sense to offer it on the computers that pros will use and leave it off of the consumer grade stuff. When I bought my MacBook I was aware that I was buying lower end gear. Had I wanted MBP specs, I'd have spent the extra money.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:17PM (#25420897)

    Find a way to magically create such a device that that A. isn't Windows-specific, B. works with something other than just DV camcorders (the only such device on the market can't even deal with HDV camcorders in HDV mode, much less hard drives or audio interfaces or...), C. preserves time code, D. supports device control, and E. doesn't downconvert the DV stream to a lower quality MPEG stream, and you might have a point.... Didn't think so.

  • by reiisi ( 1211052 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @11:16PM (#25421597) Homepage

    A Mac Mini used as a router, ethernet to the telco's dongle, Firewire to the local network.

    It's true that you may be able (with considerable effort and a few choice Japanese and Korean words of incantation) to do that with a USB port, but you can't do it with standard USB.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @11:21PM (#25421623) Homepage

    i got those numbers from Wikipedia, but you're right, USB 2.0 is 480Mbps not 400. that was my mistake.

    and as another poster pointed out, the current commercially available FireWire version is IEEE 1394B (FireWire 800), which is only 800Mbps. however, the S1600 and S3200 modes should be available by the end of this year. from Wikipedia:

    In December 2007, the 1394 Trade Association announced that products will be available before the end of 2008 using the S1600 and S3200 modes that, for the most part, had already been defined in 1394b. The 1.6 Gbit/s and 3.2 Gbit/s devices will use the same 9-pin connectors as the existing FireWire 800 and will be fully compatible with existing S400 and S800 devices. It will compete with the forthcoming USB 3.0.

    USB 3.0 is supposed to reach 4.8 Gbps, but it won't be commercially available until 2009 or 2010. and currently available USB and Firewire implementations still show a huge gap in performance in real-world benchmark tests []. with less than half the average throughput of current FireWire interfaces, USB 2.0 really isn't an acceptable substitute for multimedia applications.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quenda ( 644621 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @11:50PM (#25421787)

    Firewire provides much faster transfer speeds than USB 2.0

    What about eSATA []? That is the newer faster replacement for firewire in high-bandwidth uses. Steve wouldn't kill firewire without providing eSATA, would he?

  • And yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Saturday October 18, 2008 @12:04AM (#25421859) Homepage

    Firewire allows DMA access to all of memory, it was joked that since Apple's come with firewire they're more insecure than PCs. Nobody would seriously recommend removing Firewire for this reason... and yet these laptops have better physical security than the ones before them. Imagine an encrypted HD with a password request on resume... it gets stolen at the coffee shop, the bad guy takes it home being careful to not allow the battery to die. They open the lid, plug into it's firewire and snag the HD keys.

    A laptop with sensitive information on it shouldn't have Firewire.

    It's just one of the positives of this announcement.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Saturday October 18, 2008 @05:21PM (#25426477) Homepage Journal

    I am thinking that they are starting to try to wean people off of FW because USB3 is on the cusp of becoming available in consumer devices. It will likely replace both USB2 and FW.

    Actually, I expect USB3 to be pretty nearly dead on arrival. It is a solution in search of a problem. It requires a complete retooling of all the devices with new, more expensive connectors, cannot be even close to pin-compatible with existing USB silicon because of the extra data lines needed for the optical bus, requires all new cables, and after all that expense, it offers no advantages over USB2 for anything but hard drives, and for hard drives, it can't even begin to compete with the performance of eSATA either in performance or in cost!

    Unless I've missed something, I don't expect USB 3.0 to be any better at replacing FireWire than USB 2.0 is; AFAIK, it has all the same fundamental architectural weaknesses to keep costs down, so if USB 2.0 doesn't handle it well, USB 3.0 will also have trouble, and for precisely the same reasons....

    Further, USB 3.0 can't compete with eSATA for disk performance because of the huge CPU overhead at high throughput, the added latency inherent in USB to SATA bridge silicon and other bridges of similar complexity, and probably a dozen other things I'm forgetting right now.

    USB 3.0 also can't compete with eSATA in price because adding eSATA connectors should be nearly free. You have a SATA controller in every modern laptop anyway, and most of those controllers typically provide at least four ports, IIRC, of which you are using at most two (one for the hard drive and one for the optical drive). So basically, for the cost of some eSATA PHY silicon and a connector, you have two eSATA ports.... Ditto on the hard drive end of things; the bridge silicon should be a glorified pile of broadband amplifiers.... Assuming eSATA parts are being built in similar quantities, it should be a lot cheaper to implement than USB 3.0, IMHO.

    Thus, about all USB 3.0 can realistically do is supplant USB 2.0 for things that it does well (i.e. non-disk, non-multimedia devices, cheap webcams, and cheap flash sticks). However, such USB devices are not really pushing up against the bandwidth limitations of USB 2.0 (or, with the exception of flash sticks, even USB 1.1).

    The USB 3.0 standard makes about as much sense to me as a 64-bit ISA bus standard.... I just can't comprehend why anybody cares about it at all.... It certainly doesn't strike me as being an automatic winner. It will have a very significant uphill battle against both better entrenched technologies like eSATA/FireWire and cheaper technologies like USB 2.0.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...