June 6, 2005 2:41 PM PDT

New life for the old 'Star Trek' project

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Apple placed upon the project, each engineer would receive a bonus of between $16,000 and $25,000 if they succeeded. "We worked like dogs. It was some of the most fun I've had working," recalls team member Fred Monroe. Free of managerial meddling, the small team not only succeeded in getting the Mac's Finder to run on the PC clones, it also managed to get QuickTime and some of QuickDraw GX working, as well as the "Welcome to Macintosh" startup greeting. Having met their deadline, the Trekkies collected their bonuses and took off for a well-deserved vacation in Cancun, Mexico. In their minds, they had laid the groundwork for a product that could save Apple by allowing it to compete head-to-head with the inferior Microsoft Windows on its own turf: Intel-based computers.

Now it was up to team leader Chris DeRossi and Roger Heinen, VP of software engineering, to convince Apple's executive staff that Star Trek was worth pursuing. On December 4, they presented the Star Trek prototype to the assembled staff, many of whom couldn't believe their eyes. From all outward appearances, here was the fabled Mac OS running on an Intel computer; Star Trek had managed to penetrate deep behind enemy lines. Fred Forsyth, head of Apple's manufacturing business and hardware engineering, saw his career flash before his eyes. If Apple was successful in getting the Mac OS to run on Intel, demand for Apple's hardware would likely slump. Furthermore, the company was committed to moving the Macintosh to the PowerPC, and the Star Trek project was perceived to be a threat to that effort as well. How would it look to partners IBM and Motorola if Apple was porting the Mac OS to Intel processors at the same time it was collaborating on the PowerPC? Over these objections, Heinen was given the go-ahead to have his team attack the detail work to make Star Trek fully functional.

Armed with the executive staff 's approval, Mark Gonzales, the project marketing manager, made the rounds of PC clone vendors to gauge their interest in bundling Star Trek on their systems. Most were intrigued, but argued that they couldn't afford to pay much for it because their contracts for Windows 3.1 forced them to pay a royalty to Microsoft for every computer shipped, regardless of what operating system it contained. (This anticompetitive practice eventually landed Microsoft in trouble with the Department of Justice.)

Worse than the clone makers' tepid reception to Star Trek was Heinen's defection to Microsoft at the beginning of 1993. Without Heinen around to protect the Trekkies, in February the project was moved back onto Apple's campus at Bandley 5 and placed under the control of David C. Nagel, then head of the Advanced Technology

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Not lost in space,...
Does everyone remember the Star Trek episode, "The Enterprise Incident"? The one where Kirk had orders to steal a cloaking device from a Romulan battleship that looked like a Klingon battleship? You know, the one where Spock fell into amore with the female Romulan commander, & Kirk had to don pointed ears? Well, that's where StarTrek NG has been. Not lost in space, but cleverly cloaked ! Soon, I hope that it will uncloak, beam itself onto every Intel box out there, & blow Windows XP/Longhorn into stardust!
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
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Star Trek NG for Rhapsody was called BlueBox, and was forked and shipped as Mac OS X Server. It became the Classic environment, emulator or virtualization of the legacy system. Some the team that transition the Mac OS on UNIX (A/UX, MAE) and later PowerPC transition, worked on this. So it wasn't lost in space.
Posted by darknerd7 (2 comments )
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