Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying “Good artists copy, Great artists steal” (though he was quoting someone else).
Heck, in the PBS show “Triumph Of The Nerds“, Jobs go so far as to say “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas”. And, looking at the history of Apple software… this is obviously the case.
Yet, somehow, many people now seem to consider Apple to be the source of the vast majority of software (Desktop and Mobile) innovation.
This is the first part in a series of articles that seeks to dispel that very notion.
Part 1 – The Dock
The “Dock” is a simple mechanism for launching and managing running applications. One that has been around and in use since the 1980′s.
Many people now consider Apple to be the originator of this idea, pointing to the inclusion of a dock with the first release of MacOS X (and the later usage of a dock within iOS).
People believe this so much, in fact, that the recent releases of Ubuntu’s Unity and Gnome 3 (both of which contain implementations of a dock) have been met with declarations that they are obviously “copying Apple”.
So, let’s look at the history of the “Dock”, shall we?
1984 – First version of MacOS is released. No Dock.
1987 – Arthur (the pre-cursor to Risc OS) had a nice little Dock in it.
1989 – RISC OS 2 had an even better Dock in it.
1989 (Later that year) – NeXTSTEP (the pre-cursor to MacOS X) had a nice little Dock in it.
1993 – CDE (Common Desktop Environment) released with a nice Dock. CDE becomes a big, big deal in the Unix and Linux worlds.
1994 – OS/2 3.0 contained a floating dock.
2000 – AmigaOS 3.9 includes AmiDock by default.
2001 – MacOS X is released with a Dock.
2007 – iOS Launched with a dock.
2010 – Ubuntu and Gnome Shell have Docks by default.
So what do we learn from this?
1) Apple implemented a Dock in MacOS 14 years after the good folks over in Britain who created Arthur.
2) Unix, Linux, RISC OS, AmigaOS and OS/2 all have a “Dock” before MacOS does.
3) When Apple does, finally, implement a Dock in MacOS X… it has substantially fewer features than many pre-existing Docks.
You could make the argument, of course, that since Apple acquired NeXT (which MacOS X is based on) that Apple actually created (by proxy) a Dock in late 1989. That logic is absolutely silly and ridiculous. And here’s why:
If I, Bryan Lunduke, went out and purchased Ford Motor Company… does that mean that I created the Model T? Of course not.
Did Apple create the Dock? No.
Did Apple create the most feature-packed Dock? No.
Not only that… but they were incredibly late to the party.
Now. If someone you know makes the claim that any software organization that creates a “Dock” is “copying Apple”… you know what to tell them.