The Graphing Calculator Story - 1993, Apple, sneaky

The Graphing Calculator - a little known application on Macs, still present in the Utilities folder, written in 1993 and shipped with the first PowerPC Macs. Progress was by stealth and illegality, by people who Apple had fired but who continued to work on their cancelled project:

Here’s a screenshot from version 1.0:

Here’s a screenshot from my Mac - I had no idea it was so easy to do this (it’s one of a dozen built-in examples, and it rotates!):


From the article

I asked my friend Greg Robbins to help me. His contract in another division at Apple had just ended, so he told his manager that he would start reporting to me. She didn’t ask who I was and let him keep his office and badge. In turn, I told people that I was reporting to him. Since that left no managers in the loop, we had no meetings and could be extremely productive. We worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week


We got resources that would never have been available to us had we been on the payroll. For example, at that time only about two hundred PowerPC chips existed in the world. Most of those at Apple were being used by the hardware design engineers. Only a few dozen coveted PowerPC machines were even available in System Software for people working on the operating system. We had two. Engineers would come to our offices at midnight and practically slip machines under the door.

Finally, or nearly so:

After six months of grueling unpaid labor, Greg couldn’t explain to his parents what he had done. They didn’t use computers, and the only periodical they read was the New York Times. So as the project was winding down, I asked Greg if he wanted his photo in the Times so his parents would know what he was up to. He gave the only possible response: “Yeah, right.” We made a bet for dinner at Le Mouton Noir, a fine French restaurant in Saratoga. To be honest, I expected to lose, but I made a phone call. Greg doesn’t bet against me any more: On March 11, 1994, the front page of the Times business section contained an article on the alliance among Apple, IBM, and Motorola, picturing Greg and me in my front yard with a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Someone I knew in Apple Public Relations was livid.

Here’s that article - it’s about RISC vs CISC:
Chip Makers’ Competing Creeds (text within, paywalled, archive here)