I have, in fact, lived to see the day: Macs at IBM

Well, well: IBM has invited Macs to drop by for a sleepover – a pilot program that, for some participants, has turned into a longer-term engagement:

The first phase of the pilot program ran from October 2007 through January 2008. It distributed 24 MacBook Pros to researchers at different sites within IBM Research. Participants kept their existing ThinkPads, but were asked to only use them as a “last resort for applications not working yet on the Mac.”

After the four month test period, the 14 research scientists, 8 software engineers, a director, and a VP staff assistant participating in the pilot program were asked to provide feedback.

Of the 22 of 24 who responded, 18 said that the Mac offered a “better or best experience” compared to their existing computer, one rated it “equal or good,” and three said the Mac offered a “worse experience.” Seven reported having no or marginal prior knowledge of using Macs, while 15 reported having moderate or expert knowledge of the platform.

I’m old enough to remember when “IBM” and “PC” were synonymous. Old enough to remember not just the existence of the PCjr, but the Charlie Chaplin ads that hawked it. Old enough to remember when non-IBM PCs were called “clones”. (No, you’re saying it wrong. Sneer a little. Raise an eyebrow. Try to give the impression that someone has just handed you a rancid turd. Now say “clones”. There you go.)

How about you? Are you so old you can remember when this day would have been unimaginable? Or young enough to wonder just WTF I’m going on about?

4 thoughts on “I have, in fact, lived to see the day: Macs at IBM

  1. Jan Karlsbjerg

    I’m old enough to remember when IBM made their own PC operating system (and I used to use it too).

    IBM of recent times is all about hardware diversity and putting the emphasis on software and services. (Sure Java was made by Sun in an effort to battle Microsoft, but Java’s real benefactor has been IBM; also IBM sold their own PC production unit to Lenovo a couple of years ago)

    If IBM wants to give their researchers a shock to the system, exposing them to a minority computer platform is a clever way to do it.

  2. Dethe Elza

    I’m old enough to remember when IBM and Apple were working on joint ventures together, like Taligent, Pink, and OpenDoc. To make each other more comfortable and relaxed, the Apple engineers wore white shirts and neckties, while the IBM engineers wore blue jeans.

  3. Jan Karlsbjerg

    About the “clone” thing: IBM thoroughly documented the hardware of the IBM PC and then published everything so that others could build compatible hardware (computers as well as expansion cards). It was their plan and hope to become owners of a platform, not just of a particular machine.

    @Dethe Thanks for the detail about IBM and Apple corporate culture meeting in the middle (jeans and white shirts).

  4. David Drucker

    Despite my glee of learning this, I haven’t seen any change whatsoever at the IBM’s Pacific Development Centre in Burnaby, where my contract continues until next Friday. When I started there some 10 months ago, I was dismayed at being issued one of those bland, black Lenovo Thinkpads. Having to work with that slab of ebony plastic made me appreciate all the more how much easier I find working on a Mac.

    What’s more IBM does all of its email and meeting scheduling on Lotus Notes, which is so bad (it’s not really an email package at all – email and calendaring is sort of tacked on), that I actually longed to go back to the days of using Outlook. You couldn’t even book a room while issuing a meeting request; you had to launch another unrelated Notes DB and book there, and then send out a meeting update. And don’t get me started on Visio, a graphics application that I hope I won’t have to use much in the future. I’m counting the days when Visio wireframes will be just something I include in my resume. Omnigraffle on the Mac drop-kicks Visio into the next galaxy.

Whaddaya think?