“one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made…”

By Deane Barker on October 9, 2003

Apple should have used Intel chips, Sculley says

Apple Computer Inc. should have adopted the Intel Corp. architecture when it had the chance, former chief John Sculley said Tuesday. […] In the late-1980s, when Apple was using Motorola Inc. 68000 series chips and considering its next step, Intel co-founder Andy Grove tried to convince the company to migrate to Intel chips, […]

An experienced team from Cupertino, California-based Apple studied the idea but turned it down. […] ‘That’s probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made, not going to the Intel platform,’ said Sculley, Apple’s former chairman and chief executive officer…”



  1. This would probably have given Apple much better market penetration. I’d certainly go buy OS X today if I could do so without buying all the overpriced, candy-coated, propreitary hardware required to run it.

    It’s good to see Apple admit that they’re doing it all wrong. ;-)

  2. “I’d certainly go buy OS X today if I could do so without buying all the overpriced, candy-coated, propreitary hardware required to run it.”

    Absolutely. Given commodity hardware, I’d run OS X in two seconds flat. Apple constructed a barrier to entry that people like me aren’t willing to jump over.

    Would be more productive with OS X? Probably. Would I be three times more productive? No. So why am I asked to pay three times the price of a Windows machine?

  3. I think the point of Sculley’s comments is that Apple would’ve been more competitive in the hardware market had they used Intel chips instead of locking into Motorola chips. Just moving to Intel chips back in then wouldn’t necessarily mean that the Mac OS (X or earlier) would’ve run on commodity hardware. Apple worked hard developing the ROMs for their systems, and without those ROMs, the OS wouldn’t run. Period. There were operations early on that tried to duplicate the ROMs to make outlaw clones, and Apple shut them down right quick.

    If Intel chips had been the standard, I’m sure Apple would’ve still developed their systems to be dependent on the ROM or some other mechanism to prevent the OS from running on anything but Apple-built hardware. It’s interesting to consider where Apple would be today if it weren’t for the megahertz gap between the Motorolla chips and Intel.

  4. Even so, if Apple were on Intel hardware, the byte-ordering and instruction sets would be the same, clearing the way for them to run on the ubiquitous x86 architecture. Even now, with OS X basically using FreeBSD as its core, an x86 version wouldn’t be that hard. Apple could make some major inroads into corporate environments (and end users) if they could tell people that they could get all the advantages that OS X offers without being forced to replace all of their hardware (and for enterprises, that’s a lot of hardware). Apple’s strategy is more monopolistic than Microsoft’s: “If you want to use our stuff, you ONLY use our software on our hardware.”, and it’s prevented them from gaining a larger user base (although perhaps at a higher profit margin). Sun tried this for years with Solaris, and is changing direction now by offering x86 Solaris and Sun ONE Desktop on Linux.

  5. True, it wouldn’t take much to make the OS run on x86, but the odds against Apple ever doing that are extremely high; the nightmare of hardware compatability would be huge.

    Apple’s strategy isn’t monopolistic, just proprietary. In terms of computer hardware, it makes good sense to not allow OS X to run on every Tom, Dick & Harry logic board. Just look at the trouble MS has getting Winders to run on some of the junk that’s out there. I don’t blame them a bit for steering clear of that headache.

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