Mac Lab Report

Origin of the 75 Mac Advantages

- 2001.04.19

Dear 75 Macintosh AdvantagesReaders,

I've gotten all sorts of interesting mail regarding the revised "75 Advantages" series I've been working on, but by far the most interesting letter I got was this one from Dan Edelen, the original author of the 75 Advantages booklet. With his permission, I am reprinting his letter here for you read about how the 75 Advantages came about.

I'm hoping he will find the documentation he describes at the end of the letter and send it to me.

A scan of the cover is included to prove that the document actually made it into print.

Enjoy--

Jeff Adkins


Dan Edelen writes:

Jeff,

After seeing a note on MacInTouch that Low End Mac was taking a stab at revising "75 Macintosh Advantages," I thought you would like to know more about its history. My knowledge of this comes from that fact that I was the primary author of that document.

I came on board Apple's Mac Platform Marketing (with a title of "Product Analyst") in November of 1996. Our group consisted of five guys whose primary purpose was to produce pro-Mac, anti-Wintel material. We provided dozens of promo and informational pieces (sent out daily in thousands of units) to our sales staff, user groups, evangelists, and retailers. My first day at work I was tasked with revising the older "50 Mac Advantages."

The project took four months, although five weeks of that time were consumed by Macworld prep. I was also responsible for designing an interactive presentation of new technologies that included Open Doc, Cyberdog, QuickTime VR, Project X (Hot Sauce), and the "new" Mac OS 7.6. Needless to say, trying to get anything Open Doc from any of the third party manufacturers working on apps was a bear. In the end, though, that Macworld was a big success for our group. (Although a quick scan of those "revolutionary" new technologies reads like a "what's what" of promising, but aborted, Apple innovations.)

During the four months, I reworked the fifty originals, updated the info in them, checked to see if they were still valid, and came up with an additional fifty-eight. The fifty-eight new advantages were easy to generate - the real work was verification of claims and running things past Legal. I was astounded how timid the company was in making claims of performance and superiority. I lost count of how many times Legal informed me that we could not make a particular claim even though we had stringent independent or in-house testing that verified the claim. Some of the additional fifty-eight were rendered ineffectual because of legal issues.

Gil Amelio was extremely interested in our work and routinely used my boss to preach the anti-Wintel gospel at higher level meetings in the company. Gil supported us immensely and believed that our message was what Apple really needed to shout from the rooftops (although that later proved to not be helpful when March 1997 rolled around). Guy Kawasaki's Evangelist group used us extensively. Jobs also came back on board during the project. We felt even more empowered since we knew how rabidly anti-Wintel he had been.

In the end, I sat down with my boss and distilled the fifty-eight new advantages down to the best seventy-five. I had hoped for a hundred, but Legal and the lack of completion of an independent study I was hoping to use at the time brought the number of usable advantages down to ninety-five - a bad number for obvious reasons. :)

Unfortunately for our group, the excrement hit the ventilating device in March of 1997, and our entire group was disbanded, with most of us being let go. I had literally handed in the completed "The 75 Macintosh Advantages Over PCs Running Windows" (the working title) only two weeks before. At the point of my departure, the doc was going to the printers. Unfortunately, the carnage from the layoffs of four thousand plus employees brought the company to a standstill for a bit. Still, even though Mac Platform Marketing no longer existed, that document was deemed important enough to salvage. My knowledge of what happened next is limited, but I was told later that a final print copy would not be produced, only a PDF. The financial state of the company was cited as the reasoning for the PDF-only format. [Note: I have a copy of the "condensed version" that actually made it to print. JA]

Even though my stay at the company was short, I have always been proud of "75 Mac Advantages." It hurt a bit to see it languish over the years as the market changed, since I believe there is still a strong message there. In recent years, I have felt that Apple made a grave error in marketing by not going after the jugular of the Wintel platform. Even when I was there, there was this pervasive idea that there really wasn't any competition for the Mac. Our group had more PCs than you could have probably found anywhere else in the company - we knew someone besides us existed in the marketplace. We understood the idea of knowing one's enemy. Shortsightedly, the Wintel platform didn't seem to exist to many who worked at Apple. The mantra was always, "We make the greatest computer out there, so why wouldn't people flock to it?" That mentality still exists.

Somewhere buried on my hard drive I have the complete fifty-eight additions. Maybe if I find the time, I can look back through all my archives and send them to you. Anything to help the cause.

Take care and thanks for keeping the faith,

Dan Edelen

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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