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Apple turns into the Comeback Kid with the iBook notebook computer
technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
Simple gray rule


Apple turns into the Comeback Kid with the iBook notebook computer


Technofile for Aug. 22, 1999

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers

Apple is bouncing back. The company that had a "Kick Me" sign hanging from its rear end for years is now wearing boxing gloves and dancing around the ring.

A lot of PC makers are going to get bopped.

For proof, you don't have to look very far. Go to any store that sells Apple computers and ask about the iBook, or go to Apple's Web site at http://www.apple.com and you'll come smack right up against it. The iBook could be the single best computer Apple has ever sold. The company will sell every single one it can make, and many of those sales will come from folks who would have bought a PC notebook computer.

It's not the most powerful Apple computer or the fastest or anything like that. Don't get interested in the iBook because it's portable or because it will do something for your word processing or something equally boring. That would be a waste of your libido.

The iBook is just plain sexy. It looks sexy, it feels sexy. It's the first computer 11-year-old boys will dream about after watching Howard Stern on Friday nights. The first one that will make a change in your pulse rate the same way that stealing a glance at an undraped Italian statue does.

The iBook is THAT good. Forget your Dell and Compaq and Toshiba notebook computers. You need an iBook and you need it bad.

What's an iBook? It's a notebook computer that is small and light and good looking much better looking than anything else you can buy to type on. It can connect to a network without wires (and without dumb infrared light beams) from a hundred feet away. And that means it can connect to the Internet without any wires. If that's not the neatest trick since the invention of fire, I'll eat my floppy disk.

Pay $150 extra when you buy this $1,600 computer and you get full Windows compatibility. The extra item is called VirtualPC. iBooks with VirtualPC can run Windows, DOS and Windows programs without a hitch. Otherwise, they run Mac programs. There's lot of good Mac software, so that's not a problem. But being able to run Windows programs gives the iBook a big plus it wouldn't have otherwise.

The iBook is a Macintosh, but Apple doesn't call this it a Macintosh directly. This probably is a good thing. The Mac was the world's most amazing computer when it came out in 1984, but 15 years later Macs aren't impressive any more. They're fine for what they do, but the Macintosh operating system is about as old fashioned as you can get these days. (Only DOS is older, but nobody uses DOS for modern computing tasks anyway.)

Apple indirectly refers to the Macintosh by calling the iBook a portable iMac. The iMac is the cute desktop Macintosh that has a monitor built in, a pointless see-though case and a round mouse. (All three things make it a dumb computer, but it's cute and has been selling like crazy.)

The iBook has a lot of great features besides its sexy looks and wireless capabilities. Its batteries last a long time, the display is gorgeous, the top opens and closes without needing a fingernail-breaking latch and it's backed by a great warranty.

That's quite a set of accomplishments from a company that was for sale a few years ago. Apple was about to be sold to Sun Microsystems even Nintendo had plans to bid for the company -- when Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple, came back to rescue it from madness. In the last few years he's had one goal to change Apple into what it should have been all along, a place where good ideas get turned into even better things.

The iBook shows how well Steve Jobs is achieving that goal.


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