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ATPM 4.02
February 1998



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Apple Cider: Random Squeezings from a Mac User

by Tom Iovino,

Vital Signs

I'm an educational TV junkie.

I have to admit it. It's part of my Twelve-Step program.

As hard as it may be to believe, I rarely watch network TV. Yes, I'm among the few "insane" citizens who miss Seinfeld on a regular basis. "Third Rock From the Sun" holds no appeal for me. Even the towering intellectual achievements of "The Jenny McCarthy Show" fail to shake me from my malaise.

I guess I believe the network executives are playing for cheap laughs and eschewing the role of television as an educational resource.

But, I still have two TV's at my house. What do I watch?

I call them the "Big Four:" The History Channel, The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel, and Arts and Entertainment.

Sure, each has been accused of being the "Hitler" channel--airing shows about World War II almost around the clock, but that's not always the case. These stations actually air all sorts of interesting shows: shows about great sailing ships, shows about animals in their natural habitats, and biographies of interesting people in history.

But, my favorite shows are the ones that show the inside workings of hospital emergency rooms in large cities. Those are really fascinating.

Unlike network offerings--with their handsome, even-tempered leading men and drop-dead gorgeous actresses tending to the "seriously injured" bit players--these shows have a raw, electric edge to them. The doctors are real. The patients are really injured. The pace is frantic. Everyone from doctors to nurses to paramedics are racing against time to save the patient's life.

The most engaging episodes feature a young person who is seriously injured in a car accident. As the helicopter brings the patient to the hospital, doctors don their scrubs and prepare for the arrival of a life in the balance. Once the patient arrives, the doctors need to hook the patient up to a dozen or so devices to monitor the patient's condition. They are looking at vital signs to see what treatment is required to save the patient's life. Fast action definitely rules the day.

One night last week, I was watching one of these shows after I'd had a particularly hard day at work and a pepperoni pizza for dinner. I drifted off to sleep in front of the TV. The sound was just loud enough to enter my subconscious while I was napping, and the dream I had was one of the weirdest of my life...


It is a dark, rain-slicked night. Flickering red road flares pierce the veil of blackness on a lonely country road. I am carrying a video camera, filming a documentary. An ambulance and several police cars are parked off on the shoulder. I move towards them, camera at the ready. Paramedics, firefighters, and police officers are in a knot around a wrecked car. I approach and train my camera's viewfinder on a scary sight. Lying on the side of the road, hemorrhaging huge financial losses quarter after quarter, is Apple Computer. Industry insiders are saying its chances for survival are small. In fact, the prediction is that Apple will arrive at the hospital beyond resuscitation.

The med flight helicopter arrives, the patient is put on a stretcher, then loaded inside for the trip to the hospital. I hop on board, camera rolling, catching the scene of frantic activity around the patient. The pilot takes off and flies through the rainy night to the nearest trauma center. The helipad glows brightly in the darkness, bathed by flood lights. The helicopter touches down and, in a matter of minutes, paramedics whisk the patient to the trauma unit.

Fortunately for us Macintosh enthusiasts, Doctor Steven Jobs, the attending physician at the birth of the company, was recently appointed head of the trauma center. Despite bungled efforts by three paramedics named Spindler, Sculley, and Amelio during the flight, the patient is not beyond help.

First, Dr. Jobs hooks the company to a dozen or so monitors. Things aren't good. The company is still bleeding badly. The operating system is anemic and showing signs of advanced age. People who could transfuse funds are not stepping forward to do so. Apple's image is suffering from advertising malnutrition. Hardware problems (timely supply and clone issues) tear at the well-being of the patient.

Dr. Jobs knows that if he doesn't act quickly, the patient stands a very good chance of dying on his shift. He vows to keep the patient alive.

Dr. Jobs recommends aggressive treatment. First, he amputates extraneous corporate expenses. Cutting deeply, he removes bells and whistles from Apple Computer to make it a leaner, more efficient company. Staffs are trimmed. Grand corporate offices are trashed in favor of more spartan surroundings. The company is whittled down to resemble itself back in the early days, when management and engineers worked hand in hand, ensuring fiscal health.

The treatment, though harsh, is only the first step to halt the company's uncontrolled financial bleeding which has nearly sapped the patient's strength.

Second, Dr. Jobs makes an impassioned plea for a transfusion. The only compatible donor is someone with whom Apple's been feuding for years. Bill Gates must be convinced that the world would be a much better place if the patient survives. Dr. Jobs must've been persuasive, because Bill Gates walks into the trauma center, rolls up his sleeve, and gives a cool $150 million to help straighten things out. The patient's vital signs begin to stabilize.

Next, Dr. Jobs turns his attention to the anemic operating system. The paramedics had tried to correct the situation by promising better things while waiting for the med flight helicopter to arrive, but that has just served to weaken the patient even further. Dr. Jobs barks, "Give me a unit of OS8, stat!" The nurse starts an IV. As the new OS flows, the patient seems perkier and more vibrant. In fact, the new OS makes the patient downright happy. Fans are now very optimistic about the prognosis.

A hardware tuck is indicated, a controversial procedure. Too much trimming could be fatal. A few assertive surgery residents recommend the more radical Hardwarectomy (complete hardware removal followed by attachment to a clone machine). Dr. Jobs opts for the less radical surgery, skillfully handles his scalpel, and makes the necessary cuts. The operation appears to be successful! The clone competition is eliminated and the product base is slashed. A smaller hardware base helps control the bleeding. Plus, the G3 chip transplant significantly reduces the chance of rejection. Better performance is predicted.

With the more critical symptoms under control, Dr. Jobs orders an advertising campaign consult. Dr. Chiat, an expert in the field, is paged. Once fitted with the campaign, Apple shows more improvement. Although the choice of ad campaign was called into question by other advertising specialists, initial results are very encouraging. The patient is doing more than just holding on. The word goes out that the patient may recover beyond expectations.

The patient is stitched up and the patient admitted to the intensive care unit. Dr. Jobs snaps his latex gloves off, pitches them into the red biohazard container, and begins the long process of monitoring the patient's vitals. This is the hardest part. It's possible that the aggressive treatment will cause more harm than good.

We catch up with Dr. Jobs later that night. He's sipping a cup of coffee as he pours over the patient's chart. The signs are promising. A profit is turned in the last quarter of 1997. An astonishing result, especially considering that it didn't come from clearing out old stocks of computers or other budget cutting measures. Instead, profit is based on sales of new units to professionals, household users, and their ilk. Dr. Jobs adjusts his glasses as he reads that the supply of G3 chips is adequate. Hardware should be delivered on time. The Operating Systems report back from the lab shows healthy development from 8.0 to 8.1. Even Bill Gates, the person others assumed to be least likely to help Apple, calls up to offer Microsoft Office for Macintosh.

Dr. Jobs smiles. The patient's condition is upgraded from critical to serious, but there's still plenty of healing to do. He predicts that Rhapsody will release as anticipated. The G3 chip will be faster in the future. Software developers, encouraged by the recent developments, will continue to offer their support. Just then, the drop-dead gorgeous cardiologist comes over to Dr. Jobs and gives him a kiss...


I wake up, shaking my head. A show explaining how Field Marshall Erwin Rommel achieved early success in his World War II North Africa campaigns drones in the background.

Man, I have got to lay off the pepperoni pizza...

Blue Apple"Apple Cider" is © 1998 by Tom Iovino, <>.

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