Tag Archives: Miscellaneous

The End of an Era

To most people working in publishing today, the name Quark is synonymous with the publishing process itself. The Denver-based company’s flagship product, QuarkXPress, set the standard for DTP and anyone looking for a job in the industry had to have at least a basic knowledge of the program. In recent years, increased competition from Adobe’s InDesign application coupled with high prices and a poor customer service record to erode QuarkXPress’s near-monopoly. A delayed appearance on Mac OS X and comments in 2002 by CEO Fred Ebrahimi served to further alienate Quark’s core user base (ever met someone in publishing who doesn’t use a Mac as their primary platform? Yeah, me either.)

So after years of losing market and mindshare, today’s announcement that Quark has been sold to a mergers & acquisitions company intent on selling off Quark’s IP portfolio should come as no surprise.

Those of us who have been playing around with computers for a bit longer than the average user probably remember Quark for more than just a powerful desktop publishing application. Here’s a quick look at some of the stuff they produced for my favorite 8-bit home computer, the Apple II (and III!). Don’t worry, the list is short.

Catalyst

Quark was an early proponent of DRM and implemented draconian copy protection schemes in their products. Catalyst was designed as a program selector to assist users in loading their expensive business products from diskette onto their new, even more expensive hard disk systems while retaining their copy protection. They were going for the best of both worlds here, and didn’t really attain either.

A user would first install Catalyst onto their shiny new $5,000 Apple ProFile 10 MB drive and then, through a series of convoluted steps, load various pieces of software into Catalyst. During the install, the user’s original diskettes would be disabled and permanently tied to the Catalyst diskette so that the originals would no longer boot and could only be reinstalled to the hard drive through the specific copy of Quark’s program to which they were tied. Quark whimsically called these disks, “Catalyzed”.

Additionally, if your newly enslaved applications required access to your printer, Catalyst had to be manually configured through a quick, 30-step process… Okay, maybe not so quick.

Catalyst itself was also copy protected and featured a serial number so that once “Catalyzed” your applications couldn’t be loaded by a copy with a different serial number.

Have you been, uh… Catalyzed?

Great stuff!

A version of Catalyst creatively called “Catalyst IIe” was eventually introduced for the Apple IIe and IIc.

Word Juggler

Word Juggler was a popular word processor for the Apple II platform for many years.

Quark’s word processor for the Apple II line was known for its ease of use, extensive feature set and simple learning curve and matched up well against AppleWriter, which served as Word Juggler’s main competition until the AppleWorks suite was released by Apple in 1984. On the Apple III, Word Juggler was the first, and for years only, commercially available word processor.

Word Juggler ad from InfoWorld, Nov 30, 1981

Word Juggler wasn’t immune to Quark’s copy protection schemes and customers had to install a hardware dongle in their Apple II to get the software to boot up at all.

Lurking silently in your Apple II, protecting Quark's IP.

And that pretty much wraps it up for Quark’s 8-bit Apple software offerings. They also sold a number of minor applications, most designed to enhance Word Juggler. Lexicheck was an 8,000-word spelling checker; Terminus provided telecommunications functionality; Mail List Manager Interface also integrated with Word Juggler as did TypeFace, giving you access to typesetting equipment, should you have it.

And so we bid a not-so-fond farewell to the corporate entity known as Quark, Inc.

Jef Raskin did NOT like Steve Jobs

Note: I’ve been meaning to blog about this since I came across it last month, but haven’t had the time…

Normally, this kind of thing doesn’t grab my attention, as I have little interest in anything related to Steve Jobs or the Macintosh, but this caught my eye.  For those who don’t know – likely anyone who is unaware (or has forgotten) that Apple made computers before Macintosh (David Pogue, I’m looking in your direction) – Jef Raskin gave birth to what would eventually become the Macintosh long before Jobs had anything to do with the project.  Woz designed the Apple II.  Dr. Wendell Sander and Dan Kottke designed the Apple III.  Other companies designed the iPod and its interface.  And that pretty much sums up Jobs and his responsibilities at Apple.  At least according to Jef Raskin, who didn’t have too many kind things to say about the Apple co-founder.

If you’re unfamiliar with the pre-Macintosh history of Apple Computer and the days leading up to the introduction of the computer for the rest of us, take a minute and read through Steve Weyhrich’s excellent narrative history of Apple here.  You see, Apple, Inc.’s revisionist history gives all the credit to Jobs for bring Macintosh to market but the reality is, Raskin had already done much of the design groundwork and the project was well under way when Jobs forced his way on to the team (and subsequently forced Raskin out the door when the two disagreed over design ideas).  Jobs had little to do with the design of the Apple-1 or Apple II – that was Woz – and his legacy for the Apple III, Apple’s first attempt at at business machine, was to design a case that caused overheating and other problems which contributed to the ultimate failure of the machine.

So other than the Reality Distortion Field – which admittedly, has done wonders to nurse Apple back to health in the 13 years since his return – has Jobs really done that much for Apple?  Well, he did kill several underperforming, money draining projects and streamline Apple’s production systems.  And he has a knack for hiring smart people who do know a thing or two about design.  But when it comes to the true design genius at Apple?  Probably not as much as Jobs would like you to think…

KansasFest 2011 Announced

Apple II Forever!

The dates for next year’s “Summer Camp for Geeks”, KansasFest 2011 were announced today.  The annual celebration of all things Apple II will once again take place at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri.  Make sure you mark off your calendar for July 19 – 24.  No further details have been announced yet – hey, it’s still 11 months away – but stay tuned!  KansasFest has happened every summer now for more than 20 years and is still going strong, and as an Apple II hobbyist and lover, you really have no excuse not to be there.

Prices haven’t been posted, but if KansasFests past are any indication, saving for registration will cost you just over a dollar a day, if you start  putting your pennies away now.  And really, what can you buy these days for a dollar?  Not much, that’s what.  Where else will you have the opportunity to rub shoulders with your fellow Apple II geeks and luminaries past and present?  Nowhere, that’s where.  So start saving today, so you won’t have to come up with empty excuses next July.

Need more convincing? Take a look through the KansasFest Photo Galleries for a peek at what you’ve already missed.

To paraphrase one of my favorite Apple II geeks, there won’t always been a KansasFest, so make sure you get there!