The Null Device


As Apple starts looking more and more like another PC company (or, more precisely, a MP3 player company with a sideline in prestige PCs and software), it emerges that Apple almost merged with Sun three times. One of these mergers was an attempted acquisition of Apple by Sun. Apart from this, the two companies had abortive talks about a number of proposals, including sharing a user interface (so perhaps we could have seen Solaris with a MacOS Classic interface) and the SPARC architecture.

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if any of these ventures had been successful. I don't know whether SPARC chips make better laptop processors than PowerPCs, but if they do, then perhaps we wouldn't be seeing Apple capitulating to the x86 monoculture*. On the other hand, if Apple had Solaris offered to them, they may not have bothered buying NeXT, and OSX may be based on a less exotic strain of UNIX.

* not that that's entirely a bad thing; perhaps, once Intel Macs are commonplace, smart hackers will figure out ways of shoehorning Windows code (such as, say, the numerous free VST plugins that never make it to OSX) into running on one. But I digress.

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