I finally found myself with some time and inclination to tackle a long-neglected task: going through a row of CD’s and CD-ROMs that have sat on one shelf or another since the 90’s. Besides some CD’s that I simply ripped to my Mac, there were also some promotional CD-ROM’s from a long-past Apple era. Now, I may be a recovering pack rat, but I still couldn’t bear to just chuck these out without at least a glance at their contents.
While the demos on these disks have long been rendered unusable thanks to the relentless march of operating systems, some of the supporting files served up some intriguing surprises – and brought up some memories of both the tech and the style of the 1990’s.
The real prize was this CD from 1995 – introducing QuickTime VR. It was Apple’s newly-launched standard interface for interactive content.
The “VR Player” no longer runs, but if I drag the support files into QuickTime Player, they open right up – and I’m presented with fairly low-res views that I can drag around with the mouse. It’s just like looking at Google Street View nowadays, but was still a pretty nifty new trick 20-odd years ago.
But the most nostalgia-inducing section was a folder called “Apple Company Store”. Inside was an app of the same name (no longer runnable) and a series of QTVR movies that were no doubt presented inside it.
One of the supporting VR movies shows exactly that, a retail Apple store, presumably at their corporate headquarters. This was emphatically NOT an “Apple Store” as we now know it, since those didn’t arrive until 2001. And it’s a much different look, stylish but not the “clean room” effect of today’s stores, rather it’s a much darker look with lots of wood, block trim and glossy black tile. Moving around, you see not just technology, but Apple-branded clothing and accessories too.
I wish I could present this online in 360° click-and-draggable VR, but if it’s possible to do so, I couldn’t figure out how. So I’m presenting some screen shots instead to give a sense of it.
Another folder on the CD-ROM has files for all the “company store” products, many of them in VR format that allows you to spin and rotate the object around by dragging. chunky PowerBooks, “Power Macs” and beige Performas are here, as well as that legendary flop, the Newton.
But there’s also Apple-branded items like sweatshirts, mugs, pens, a silver keychain, wine glasses(!) and a red Apple cap. There’s even a beach ball – and it matches the colours of the spinning “beach ball of delay” often seen on Mac screens. The QuickTime player windows below are for items that had a turnable image.
Finally, there is the “Apple Watch” (as the filename calls it). Naturally, it’s not today’s Apple Watch – a close look reveals it to actually be a Casio! Very 90’s, with LCD dials galore – but a somewhat unusual curved digital time display. And there is an Apple logo on the strap…
All in all, this was a real blast from the past – dating from a time when Apple was yet to transform itself into the cultural juggernaut it has become. Steve Jobs had yet to return to the company, bringing changes – starting with those multicoloured, floppy-drive-free iMacs – that would turn Apple around.
All in all, glancing at these images reminded me that the 90’s truly were a long time ago and just how far we’ve come.