MAC

Today in Apple history: Apple licenses Mac OS for Radius


January 4, 1995 Apple signs an agreement with an independent equipment manufacturer for Mac Radius, allowing the company to make Macintosh clones.

Radius is the second company to license the Macintosh operating system (Power Computing did the same thing a month earlier). However, Radius will become the first licensee to launch a clone when its System 100 is delivered in March 1995.

Radius: Manufacturer of pedigree Mac peripherals

Radius has a long history with Apple. Former members of the Macintosh team founded the company in 1986, two years after the first Mac was shipped. The founders were Burrell Smith, Andy Hertzfeld, Mike Boich and others – many of whom are immortalized as members of the Apple team who signed the inner box of the original Macintosh.

After the Mac project ended, many people who worked to make the computer a reality (including, as it turned out, Steve Jobs) left Apple to start new ventures.

Radius was one such company. He first made waves by delivering Radius Full Page Display, the second personal computer screen (initially Macintosh II). Radius also pioneered the concept of allowing users to drag windows between multiple screens.

The company later developed the Radius Accelerator, which significantly increased the speed of the Mac by adding the Motorola 68020 processor.

Radius struggled in the early 1990s, but seemed to have taken a staggering blow after Apple’s management decided to license the Macintosh operating system in the middle of the decade. Many within Apple have advocated this type of deal for years, but have encountered fierce opposition from people like Mac manager Jean-Louis Gassée.

In the mid-1990s, Gassée long since left Apple. Cupertino executives switched to licensing the Macintosh operating system in an attempt to restore profitability. In an ideal world, the strategy would help Apple catch up with rival Microsoft, which has progressed by licensing its own OS to other vendors.

Disappointing offer

Radius
One of Radius’ ultra-enhanced Mac clones.
Photo: Digibarn

However, the deal mediated by Apple was terrible for Cupertino. In fact, Radius and Power Computing had Apple to pay only $ 50 per machine they made. If the plan to increase market share had really succeeded, then-Apple CEO Michael Spindler thought that by the end of 1995, a million clones of Macs would have been sold.

The plan failed, however. Apple CFO Fred Anderson later developed that strategy cost Apple money.

Why? People chose cloned Macs instead of buying more expensive (and, for Apple, more lucrative) official ones.

Radius has made two contributions to the Mac clone family. The 100 system, which came in 80 MHz and 110 MHz variants, boasted a modified Power Mac 8100 motherboard in a ridiculously sturdy case. The other machine was a lower class 110 MHz System 81/110, which did not come with a Radius video card.

Radius exits the Mac clone game

In the end, Radius did poorly on the front of the clone Mac. The project was abandoned shortly after the start. These Radius cloned Macs – although not particularly collectible – remain a fun curiosity for those interested in Mac history.

Radius handed over its license to Taiwanese scanner maker UMAX Data Systems in May 1996. The following year, after Steve Jobs returned to Apple and began turning it in the right direction, he completely ruled out cloned Macs.

Do you remember the Macintosh clone? Would you like the strategy to be repeated today? Or is it best left to the “bad old days” of the mid-1990s? Leave your comments below.





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Naveen Kumar

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