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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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  • Outrage! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:14PM (#25419175)

    The new Macbook doesn't have an 8" floppy?!?!
    I won't buy one then, wah, wah, waaaaaaahhhh!

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

      by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:56PM (#25419693) Homepage

      it's not even the same thing. Firewire provides much faster transfer speeds than USB 2.0--3200 Mbps versus 400 Mbps. 8" floppies were phased out because of the technologically superior 5.25" floppies. and those were subsequently replaced by the 3.5" floppies.

      i'm not saying that all computers need a Firewire port, because that's obviously not the case. but having used Firewire compared to USB to transfer large amounts of data, i don't think Firewire should be dismissed so easily.

      i'm guessing Firewire has lost out to USB because it's more expensive to implement, whether due to licensing fees or inherent hardware costs, but i would hate to see such a useful technology be killed off just because USB 2.0 is "good enough" for the average user. Firewire makes a huge difference when you're working with audio/video editing, or working with lots of hi-def images or other large files. i would not have thought that Apple would discard a technology that is so vital to their traditional customer base.

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

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:11PM (#25419865) Journal
        I strongly suspect that the reason wasn't the cost of adding a firewire port per se. Firewire(albeit in the annoying 4 pin form) shows up on a fair portion of genuinely cheap and awful PC laptops. Firewire addon cards are fairly modestly priced, and Apple clearly wasn't nervous about raising the price of the macbook in order to add the features they wanted.

        This seems like a fairly blatant attempt to enforce separation between the macbook and the pro. Now that both are practically identical in build quality and the difference in GPU performance is merely large rather than absolutely enormous, they need a differentiating factor. Firewire seems to have been chosen. I suspect that Apple knows what they are doing, Apple zealots are zealous, most of them will suck it up and pay, and they can use their top of the line construction to sell macbooks to switcher college students. It sure isn't a nice thing to do, though.
        • Fine and dandy. Now, SteveO, go and make us a 13" Mac Book Pro (with the firewire). Better yet, make us a 13" Mac Book Pro with firewire and a tablet screen.

          And send me a pony while you're at it.
          • Re:Outrage! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Saturday October 18, 2008 @08:22AM (#25423233) Homepage

            Steve Jobs and Apple engineers should go to some music studios, movie studios and see why those people demand 12" or 13" laptops.

            Let me give a clue to "cheap bastard buy a macbook pro 15" zealots and apologisers. The sound system they plug to firewire port of G4 is way more higher priced than your "pro" laptop.

            They actually use the portable at work, to produce something, not to show off at local cafe and the one thing you can't find in studios is SPACE. They are the first ones to move to LCD (sound guys) even while technology and refresh rates were awful.

        • I can't find a link right now, but one of those Mac nostalgia sites has a first person account of Steve Jobs demanding hardware based functionality be removed from the initial Apple II offering so that it could be replaced to add value to the next generation.

          Artificial upgrade cycles suck even if history will show Apple was just on the leading edge of a new wave. Firewire still works well for a number of use scenarios.

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

            by Hes Nikke ( 237581 ) <> 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!"

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          This seems like a fairly blatant attempt to enforce separation between the macbook and the pro. ... they need a differentiating factor. Firewire seems to have been chosen.

          Fools! I'll simply purchase a Firewire-to-USB adapter!

      • 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.

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

          by CheeseTroll ( 696413 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:37PM (#25421043)

          That's very cool, but the Macbook doesn't have USB3, either.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          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 n

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

        by kromozone ( 817261 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:59PM (#25420295)
        Firewire 3 (1394c) provides speeds of up to 3200mbps, over standard ethernet cables no less, and the port can function simultaneously as a 1394c port and an ethernet port. 1394b runs at 800mbps and 1394a at 400mbps. All 3 have different port configurations, although 1394b is backwards compatible with 1394a so long as you have a 1394b port to 1394a port cable. Unfortunately, because it looks like a fantastic standard and has been out for over a year now, 1394c is not available anywhere. I could understand if they had dropped 1394a for 1394b, forcing people to buy compatible cables wouldn't be such a bad thing, but dropping firewire entirely is silly.
      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by quenda ( 644621 )

        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?

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

        by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Saturday October 18, 2008 @07:17AM (#25423059) Homepage

        No problem, if Apple hasn't included Firewire then just buy your next Mac from any one of the wide range of competing hardware vendors... right... right?

        Using a Mac means you have to bend over for Steve Jobs. It's pointless complaining about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jcr ( 53032 )

      The new Macbook doesn't have an 8" floppy?!?!

      It's worse than that. It doesn't even read Hollerith cards.


      • I know that you are joking; but I strongly suspect that Hollerith card support(unlike firewire) could be added with a simple software update. Hollerith cards are large enough and simple enough that iSight+a rudimentary OCR equivalent should be more than enough.
    • * The ability to run programs in the background
      * Scripting

      And basically everything else that would make a mobile internet device useful.
      • Ah, like wifi or extended battery life, or a web browser right?

        I think they made a good choice. For everyone else there is either jailbreak or the G1.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gapagos ( 1264716 )

      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

  • 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.

    • Re:audio recording (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Silicon Jedi ( 878120 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:24PM (#25419307)
      They expect them to buy the cheaper computer that still has firewire.
    • Re:audio recording (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nlawalker ( 804108 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:25PM (#25419325)

      Something besides the MacBook that doesn't have the Firewire port?

    • by RedK ( 112790 )
      A 999$ white Macbook.
    • Yes, there's an example of a market that must keep Apple awake at night.

    • They expect them to shell out for a Pro.

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:24PM (#25419313)
    If Apple hadn't invested in so many non-mainstream technologies to start with then they wouldn't have had to kill so many - leaving those machines poor orphans in the process.
  • by Desert Raven ( 52125 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:25PM (#25419331)

    Something missing here. The article claims to be "A Brief History of Features Apple Has Killed" Yet, the article has nothing of the sort, and the linked page is a just an opinion piece on the lack of Firewire in the new MacBooks.

    I'm guessing this [] is the link that was intended.

  • Correct link (Score:5, Informative)

    by wumpus188 ( 657540 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:27PM (#25419353)
    Why not link directly to the list [] instead of the pointless poll?
  • by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:35PM (#25419463) Homepage Journal

    says the article. That's right: 'Hundreds,' not 'tens of thousands.' Get it? The average consumer doesn't give a rip.

    • by tgd ( 2822 )

      The average consumer will when they realize they can no longer get video off their Mini-DV camera into iMovie.

      Its likely more like hundreds of thousands -- a huge swath of the people who switched to Mac did so for the media capabilities.

      For good or bad, the vast majority of Mini-DV SD and HD cameras do not support pulling video off the tape via USB.

      I've got the option, thankfully, of buying a non-Apple laptop that still has it and running OSX on it, but for the average user who may have made the switch back

      • I maintain you haven't described the 'average user,' though I concede that is a nebulous concept at best. In any case, we do not have any evidence whatsoever that 'hundreds of thousands of users' will be both affected and 'upset.' The evidence so far, as stated in the article, is 'hundrreds of users.' If a groundswell of unhappiness from 'hundreds of thousands of users' actually transpires, I will be glad to change my statement. But so far that is simply speculation. there is no evidence for that happening.

      • Well, if they aren't ready to replace their video camera, maybe they aren't ready to replace their iBook or "early 2008" MacBook?

        Apple is targeting the largest audience using the feature set most important to them. If you really need FW, go or a MBP. Heck, I bet we see enough refurbs coming up soon enough.

    • "The average consumer doesn't give a rip."

      That's because the average consumer has never touched a Mac.

  • 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.

  • The ability to legally run their operating system on something other than their own machines was once an option. Now it is not, for all practical purposes.

    • "The ability to legally run their operating system on something other than their own machines was once an option. Now it is not, for all practical purposes."

      Too bad there are no OS X equivalents to the Knoppix DVD.
      They wouldn't be legal, but they would be useful.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:43PM (#25419557) Homepage Journal
    It is just not in the mainstream, so there is little reason to include it on a machine that is primarily made to meed a price point. Most people who want a computer for $1000 probably have similar price requirements for other devices, which means they are unlikely to pay a 20% premium on a lacie hard disk with firewire. This is not a case of a cheap technology like a floppy disk being removed because no one uses it. It is a matter or an expensive technology being removed because most people do not wish to pay for it. This was certainly the case with iPod. I was able to charge an ipod by plugging it into my external hard disk, which was nice. But the iPod being a consumer product, had to be sold for consumer product, and the average consumer is not willing to pay for the premium Apple hardware and service, so the iPod, and unfortunately the iPhone, uses the lame and inferior USB protocol.It is not a big deal, but I had to buy a USB hub.

    There is also a matter of not putting gratuitous features on the machine just to meet the buzz word compliance features. For example, many people complain that the Airport has no firewire port, and I am one of those because some of my kit is firewire only. But given the wireless transfer speeds, 54 Mbits/second, why put a 400 Mbit/sec on it. Sure, if one is using GHz ethernet, it would be nice a FW800 interface, but how many of us do this. And this is the case, perhaps an network aware hard drive is a better solution, which I see are not very expensive.

    What is true is that Apple does not waste resources support tech that no longer serves a broad purpose. This means that many of us have closets full of old tech. What this also means is that we don't have to worry about installing drivers every time we put in a USB drive, most cameras work with the standard picture protocol, and if we are willing to pay for the machine, we have external hardware that communicates at fast speeds, built in.

    • It is just not in the mainstream, so there is little reason to include it on a machine that is primarily made to meet a price point.

      And I think the market segmentation makes a certain amount of sense. The most stripped-down model (Air) has 1 usb port, audio out, and a display port. The next heftier model adds another USB port, ethernet port, DVD writer, and audio-in. And then they have the Pro model with an expansion card, bigger/better screen, firewire, and a better graphics card.

      So while the Air is stripped down to the bare essentials for someone who's willing to sacrifice a lot for the sake of mobility, the Pro model adds some hi

    • It is a matter or an expensive technology being removed because most people do not wish to pay for it.

      That may be true but it was nVidia who made the call, not Apple. The 9400M southbridge [] in the Macbook simply doesn't support firewire.

      I suspect Apple simply looked at all its CUDA cores and decided that realtime h.264 for the YouTube set was simply more important than firewire. Yeah, they could have done a discrete firewire implementation but then they're adding cost back in, and Apple isn't going to do d

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:54PM (#25419665)

    Seriously ... it's time for it go!

  • "A Brief History of People Apple Has Killed"?

    I thought this was going to be a warning... a warning to us all....

  • by barfy ( 256323 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:56PM (#25419699)

    Even USB was faster than parallel ports, and RS232, and DVI was better than RGB.

    But FireWire was better than SCSI, and nothing touches it yet. The reason that it is a problem that it was gone, is that there is a significant portion of the MacBook population that used FireWire. It will still be used by the higher end macs, but paying 800-1000 for a port is insane. So the choice is to keep using outdated macs, pay TOO much for a port, or go windows.

    This is not just an outdated, or soon to be outdated port. This is used, and it is replaced by nothing, and what remains is worse.

    This is just a bad idea.

  • by Sarusa ( 104047 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @06:59PM (#25419729)

    Sorry guys, I know FireWire is faster and cooler than USB 2 (no sarcasm there) and has neat features like the easy peer to peer connection, but USB won the market. Cheap and 'pretty good enough' beats out better and more expensive almost every time. Given that Apple has to put USB on any laptop (leaving that off would really be a disaster), adding FireWire as well just adds to their expense and complexity.

    We had this discussion, what, 5 years ago about SCSI? Yeah, IDE/SATA won that one too.

    You could argue that the Mac's growing market share itself argues against this, but to me that's just due to sufficient numbers of people thinking Vista isn't 'pretty good enough'. I know some of you love it dearly, but to most people FireWire just doesn't matter. Apple's eventually gonna ditch it, so they've started weaning you off it now.

    • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @08:12PM (#25420395)

      I don't think you understand.
      A lot of us "outraged" at the omission of FW are mad because of the following reasons:

      -digital video (My sister was sold on the capability to import movies of her son and make DVDs and send them to our parents overseas. Big deal for home users interested in this.)
      -digital audio (I don't know anything about that, so I can't comment, it seems like a big deal.)
      -firewire target disk mode (huge deal for those of us supporting friends and family, even bigger for those of us who have to deploy tens of laptops at the same time. We use firewire drives to slap images on them. If you've never done this you probably don't understand the huge time saving.)
      -firewire devices (I've invested in a few FW hard drives because of their power through bus capability, portability and speed, now they're all useless for data storage, time machine, etc.)

      There are counter arguments too...
      - digital video, all the HD camcorders supposedly come with USB
      - digital audio.. whatever, I don't know
      -FW TDM .. use time machine, or netrestore, or go se a genius instead of friend-tech support
      -firewire devices... SOL

      I've successfully "switched" over a dozen friends and family to macs, knowing that in a pinch I could boot into FW TDM and recover their data, or that simply buying an inexpensive external FW disk they could have TimeMachine.
      But now, I will not suggest a MacBook for anyone that I may need to support. Especially not for work, where we have over 50 MacBooks deployed. Which is unfortunate, because it really is an excellent machine.

  • Apple may be ready to downplay the merits of FireWire, but the Auto Industry, Aerospace, DoD, and much more dealing with high bandwidth control systems and much more are just beginning to implement FW800 with FW3200 next up.
  • " 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."

    No shit, once a large OEM starts refusing to put something on their machines, it tends to have a negative effect on that things continued use in the computer world.

  • Firewire fails (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @07:23PM (#25419983) Journal

    I had to check what a Firewire cable and port look like. Why? Because it's rare. Sure, there are a lot of cameras with a firewire port but USB is just that more prevalent. There isn't a modern computer in the world without a USB port. Seriously, I took this from wikipedia:

    "Full support for IEEE 1394a and 1394b is available for Microsoft Windows XP, FreeBSD, Linux[6], Apple Mac OS 8.6 through to Mac OS 9[7], and Mac OS X as well as NetBSD and Haiku. Historically, performance of 1394 devices may have decreased after installing Windows XP Service Pack 2, but were resolved in Hotfix 885222[8] and in SP3. Some FireWire hardware manufacturers also provide custom device drivers which replace the Microsoft OHCI host adapter driver stack, enabling S800-capable devices to run at full 800 Mbit/s transfer rates on older versions of Windows (XP SP2 w/o Hotfix 885222) and Windows Vista. At the time of its release, Microsoft Windows Vista supported only 1394a, with assurances that 1394b support would come in the next service pack.[9] Service Pack 1 for Microsoft Windows Vista has since been released, however the addition of 1394b support is not mentioned anywhere in the release documentation.[10][11][12]"

    See? They don't care. Nobody cares. Try that with a USB protocol. There would be total outrage at the fact that there would be no proper USB protocol support.

    Now let's look at the back of my computers. Count the number of Firewire ports you see and compare them to USB ports. My computers have 0 or 1 fw ports but they all have 3-5 usb ports on the back alone(not including my usb hub for my golden oldie). Then add some usb in front and you know that it is a widespread standard. And you also must not forget usb sticks and usb external hard drives. The whole world runs on usb(including a usb vacuum cleaner ;) ).

    Sure, firewire might be better but it does not matter. Cut the cord and let it die. This year will not be the year of firewire in the desktop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TeknoHog ( 164938 )

      Now let's look at the back of my computers. Count the number of Firewire ports you see and compare them to USB ports. My computers have 0 or 1 fw ports but they all have 3-5 usb ports on the back alone(not including my usb hub for my golden oldie). Then add some usb in front and you know that it is a widespread standard.

      Firewire is a network of equal peers, which can be chained together. That's why most computers with Firewire only have 1 or 2 ports, and most devices have 2 ports. There's no differentiation between a host computer and other devices, so it's trivial to network between two computers, or between a camcorder and a hard drive, for example.

      This fact actually turns your argument upside down; Firewire can do more with less. Of course, the more intelligent controllers and the network topology are overkill for si

  • Most of the time, when Apple deprecates a technology it's because there are legitimate arguments that a superior replacement is available. (And of course, they implement the replacement.) That simply hasn't happened here. USB has its advantages for some scenarios, but there are many more where Firewire is better.

    Since this is Apple, there's been no statement about long-term plans anyway. There are a variety of reasons Apple may have left it off this model, even if they don't intend to stop using Firewire in

  • From TFA:

    ...may not pacify folks with camcorders that are FireWire only. Or who like FireWire's speed for external hard drives.

    The only thing we've lost is a FireWire 400 port, so against USB 2.0 we haven't lost speed. Both the MacBook Pro and MacBook have lost FireWire 400, but the Pro still has FireWire 800, which the MacBook never had to my knowledge.

    I still sympathise with MacBook FireWire users: they don't even have a card slot to fix this omission. The FireWire 800 port on my Pro is heavily used - losing that would be a deal breaker for me.

  • head less desktops under $2200 the mac pro stars at $2300 vs $1200+ and up in the g4 and g5 days.

    Laptops with video cards that have there own ram under $2000

    A real video card in the mini and no putting the 8400m that uses system at $800 will not cut it.

    matte displays




  • RS-232 (Score:3, Informative)

    by ponraul ( 1233704 ) on Friday October 17, 2008 @09:26PM (#25420963)

    Macs never had RS-232. They had RS-422.

  • 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.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan