© Amit Singh. All Rights Reserved. Written in February 2004


Besides client and server computers, Apple has made various other devices running operating systems, such as a multimedia device (Pippin), hand-held computers (MessagePad, eMate), and a portable music player (the iPod).

Mac OS on Pippin

The Pippin was dubbed as a multimedia device, a set-top box, and a network computer. It was meant to be used for activities such as playing back CDs, surfing the Internet, reading email, and playing games, but not full-fledged computing. Thus, it was positioned as a device in-between a video game console and a personal computer. Apple's plan was to license the Pippin to 3rd parties. The Pippin had a 66 MHz PowerPC 603e processor, 6 MB RAM, 128 KB flash memory, a 4X CD-ROM drive, stereo sound, multiple video outputs, a PCI bus connector for expansion, serial ports, Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) ports, a modem, a keyboard, and a game controller. The Pippin was a failed product, and did not reach the market.

The Pippin ran a custom version of Mac OS.

Pippin is also a variety of apple (the fruit).

Newton OS

Apple created a line of hand-held computing devices running the Newton operating systems. The devices included many models of the MessagePad and the eMate 300. Newton also ran on various clones. The original MessagePad (20 MHz ARM 610, 640 KB RAM, 4 MB ROM) was introduced in 1993 with Newton OS 1.0. The last MessagePad model was the MP2100 (161.9 MHz StrongARM, 8 MB RAM, 8 MB ROM), running Newton OS 2.1.

The Newton System Software was logically divided into three parts: Newton OS (lowest level), System Services, and Application Components.

Newton OS was preemptive and multitasking, and could be considered a modular set of tasks each dedicated to specific functionality such as scheduling, task management, inter-task communications, memory management, power management, and various interactions with hardware. A low-level extensible communications subsystem managed serial hardware (including fax modem), infrared, and AppleTalk networking. This subsystem was extensible in that new protocols could be dynamically added and removed.

Many system services ran atop the operating system, such as: Find, Filing, Sound, Book Reader, Routing and Transport, Endpoint Communications, Imaging and Printing, Intelligent Assistant, Stationery, Text Input and Recognition, View System, and Object Storage System.

Application Components included the NewtonScript Application Program and the user interface ran on top of System Services. All Newton applications (built-in as well as 3rd party) ran in a single operating system task.

Newton used a sophisticated modeless input recognition system that could recognize text, shapes, and gestures. The text recognizer could handle printed, cursive, and mixed handwriting. The shape recognizer could recognize both simple and complex geometric shapes. A descendant of this recognition technology exists as Inkwell in modern day Mac OS X.

iPod's OS

Apple's iPod portable music player has been extremely successful. It runs a proprietary operating system.

When the first iPod was released in 2001, its software's "About" section listed PortalPlayer, a company that offers platform suites for computer and consumer electronics manufacturers developing portable digital entertainment devices. A small company called Pixo was also credited, whose focus was on developing a wireless software platform and services for phone manufacturers. The Pixo software platform (Pixo Platform) included the Pixo Platform Applications, Pixo User Interface Builder, Pixo Application Framework, Pixo Toolbox, Pixo Kernel, Pixo Partner Applications, Pixo Internet Microbrowser, and so on.

The iPod uses PortalPlayer's "Digital Media Platform", which is marketed as a turn-key solution as it includes System-On-Chip integrated circuits (ICs), a customizable firmware suite, integrated third party services, PC software, and so on. The iPod uses PortalPlayer's PP50xx chip, which contains two ARM7TDMI microprocessor cores. The iPod's embedded operating system, including its encoding and decoding components, also come from PortalPlayer.

Pixo's software, particularly the Toolbox, provided the foundation on which the iPod's user-interface was designed and implemented by Apple. The Pixo Toolbox included modules for memory management, low-level graphics such as bitmaps, boxes, lines, and text, Unicode, collection classes, resource database, and standard libraries. Pixo provided a range of data applications too, such as Address Book, Calculator, Calendar, Email, Graphical World Clock, Memo Maker, Todo List, and PC Synchronization.

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