By Ed Oswald | Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Guy Kawasaki claims that a single piece of software was responsible for saving the Macintosh platform — a claim that while seemingly a bit outlandish may actually make sense. That piece of software was Aldus Pagemaker, one of the first visual page-layout programs.
Speaking at the Ad:Tech conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, the former chief evangelist at Apple said that the original Mac did not do tasks such as spreadsheet creation or database management all that well. But desktop publishing was a natural fit.
Indeed, Mac aficionados will tell you that one of the platform’s biggest strengths is that it is visually driven — which is exactly what you need for a task such as what Pagemaker did. Kawasaki was frank: “Desktop publishing — it saved Apple.”
Aldus may have also spurred the perception of the Mac as a visual creation tool, which could be why practically any graphic design shop these days usesthe Mac as the primary computing platform. It also created a whole core group of users that was able to take the Cupertino company even through its darkest times.
Kawasaki also had a few words for the Mac and its development team that I’m sure will go over well with the Appleheads: calling the original Mac “a piece of crap,” although a “revolutionary piece of crap,” and the original development team the “greatest collection of egos in one room” in the history of Silicon Valley, only to be recently eclipsed by Google.
I tend to agree with Guy’s assessment and would argue this is one of the core reasons why the Mac remains successful to this day. It still does not do the mundane business tasks well, and I doubt it ever will. But look at the creative side — Apple knows its strengths and its all about the visual — up until recently creating highly appealing documents and the like were much easier for the inexperienced on a Mac.
Why do you think Microsoft has made such big strides in recent versions of Windows to match this functionality? Because this is one of the things it has always done well (and arguably right) and Aldus Pagemaker may have just been what the platform needed to prove its worth.