Sunday, September 24, 2006

You can fire me, but you can't stop me working!

In my last post I had a diagram consisting of a circle and a line tangent to it. I produced this using which comes with MacOS X, though unless you have a good look in /Applications/Utilities you might not realise it exists. This is the latest incarnation of Apple's graphing calculator. All I had to do was plot the graphs of y=0 and x2+(y-1)2. And while it's a neat little application, what's really cool about it is the story of how it came into existence. It's an old story now, but lots of people still seem not to have heard it. It was developed illicitly, on Apple property, using Apple equipment, by an unpaid ex-Apple contractor who simply refused to leave. And despite the fact that he had to dodge his way around building security, and his project didn't show up on any official documentation, he managed to get resources allocated to his project and ultimately sneak his app onto the master disk image containing the release build of MacOS for the Power PC!

You can either read the full version of the story here or, and this is the version I recommend, you can listen to the programme from This American Life.

Update: Ron Avitzur contacted me to point out that Grapher is a separate application to Graphing Calculator. But I presume that Apple intended Grapher to be a followup to Graphing Calculator. Graphing Calculator is still being developed and I'll be playing with both apps now.


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