NASA CIO Briefing


presented by Apple Computer, Inc.
created by Michael Mills










Over the past 18 months there has been a move at some of the NASA centers toward standardizing computer technology on a single platform. This has caused concern not only among those vendors who are affected but, more importantly, among the scientists and engineers who feel their work and productivity are being impacted by these decisions. NASA's plan is to move toward outsourcing the IT functions while the agency concentrates on its goals of building the International Space Station, planning and executing interplanetary travel, determining whether we are alone in the universe and educating the public and Congress on the importance of these missions to our country and all mankind.

This paper will show why a heterogeneous computing environment makes good business sense and why, in particular, the Macintosh environment is cheaper, faster and better.


Heterogeneous Computing

This IS the standard













There are many factors which make heterogeneous computing the de facto standard.

1) Technology is always changing. In the past year clock speeds have gone past 200 Mhz, multimedia is a requirement and new Operating Systems require more RAM and larger Hard Disks. Apple is currently shipping 300 Mhz systems and will get faster still.

2) Legacy systems continue. It is impractical to turnover every computer at once. Depreciation and data conversion costs often make these long term investments that cannot be easily changed when the next release of software is announced.

3) Multiple environments within a "single platform" environment. Most corporations who say they are going single platform cannot afford to replace all computers in a single purchase thereby presenting a situation where there are older 286s running DOS, 386s running Win 3.1, 486s running WFW, Pentiums running Win 95, some with MMX, Pentium Pros running Win NT and so on.

4) Studies have found it is no more expensive to support a multi vendor environment than a single.


Right Tools For The Task
















"We can use our Cray for word processing but we don't"

Each computer system has its own individual strengths and weaknesses. Macintosh has been long recognized as the leader in areas such as Multimedia, Publishing and Design. Through competition comes innovation. Not many years ago terminal emulation was the standard. Then came the C: prompt as the user interface standard which was shattered by Apple making GUI the goal to reach for. Now the Web is used to communicate and access information. GIF files have given rise to multimedia. As new standards and capabilities emerge it is important to have the flexibility to utilize these advances to their maximum potential.







Apple is the #1 vendor of Multimedia computers according to Dataquest and # 1 publishing platform according to Griffin Dix. Macintosh isn't just for graphics. According to Apple's internal figures, Macintosh has a 50% share of chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, scientific, and engineering computing markets.

"Personal" Computers











Just as each computer system is different so are the people who use them. Every person learns, develops, creates and reacts differently. One size rarely fits all. While it is important to have standards for the way we communicate and relate to one another it is equally important to celebrate our differences. One of the things that has made this country great is the variety of cultures, backgrounds and diversities that comprise our environment. In situations where creative problem solving is involved this is paramount. If a particular system provides a sense of satisfaction and allows an individual to be more productive in solving their problems then it is important to respect the individual's preference when it meets the standards for communication and data interchange.

Apple leads the industry in customer loyalty, for the third year in a row! The study by Computer Intelligence in June of 1997, showed that 81 percent of those who use Apple computers, repurchase Apple computers.

Apple Wins J.D. Power and Associates Desktop Personal Computer Satisfaction Study. Apple Computer, Inc. leads the computer industry in overall customer satisfaction for desktop personal computers, according to the J.D. Power and Assoc.1995 Desktop Personal Computer End-User Satisfaction Study.

OPEN Standards



















It is necessary for common interchange capabilities. Over the past years in the computer industry many standards have emerged to facilitate easy interaction between systems from different manufacturers. Some standards are defined as Open Standards which are published and function equally on all systems. There are also "de facto" standards which while proprietary and closed are considered standard because they are so wide spread. IBM' SNA was one of these.

Apple promotes open standards and has been instrumental in developing several including FireWire and the Quicktime Media Layer.


Category Standards

Internet Protocols - TCP/IP



Data Interchange MIME

Development JAVA

Apple is guided by the principle of open innovation and will continue its legacy of developing the industry's most innovative technologies. Apple will accomplish this in partnership with other vendors. The successful alliance with IBM and Motorola in development and implementation of the PowerPC chip, partnership with Sun on Java for MacOS, and partnerships with SGI, Netscape, Microsoft and many others in internet development illustrate this.











A heterogeneous computing environment is inherently more secure than a homogeneous one.

1) Hacking. If a perpetrator wants to hack into a computer system he must be familiar with any back doors that may exist and have the knowledge to exploit them. This has occurred in documented cases involving UNIX and Windows within the past year. At the same time there have been several challenges with rewards of up to $10,000 for anyone who could break into a Macintosh. So far, no one has risen to the challenge.

2) Viruses. While viruses have been documented in all computer environments none are applicable to all at once. There are fewer viruses on Mac and Windows viruses do not affect a Mac.

3) Integrity. There have been at least 2 instances of arithmetic anomalies on the Pentium processors. Without the ability to cross check certain critical calculations


Why Mac is Cheaper, Faster and Better





There are several factors which go into cost. One must consider the initial price, what you get for those dollars, how long will it last, how hard is it to keep running, how can it be upgraded, and most importantly how does it help solve the problems and make for a more productive environment.


Acquisition costs











What is the system cost? Mac technology is available in a wide variety of configurations and functionalities. Choices range from sub $1000 entry level systems to high end workstation/ server class machines. Apple has licensed the MacOS to third party clone vendors and has opened the hardware specifications, along with Motorola and IBM, through the Common Hardware Reference Platform.

Dataquest recently released updated personal computer market share numbers that showed Apple's licensing of the Mac OS provided noticeable increase in the overall Mac OS market share for 1996. Apple Computer's share of the personal computer market was 6.7 percent in 1996, good for fifth place, but adding the Mac OS clones into the mix raises the numbers to 7.8 percent, or fourth place. In addition, Computer Intelligence just released numbers showing that the Mac OS market share in the U.S. dealer channel grew from 8 percent in Nov-96 to 11 percent in Jan-97, again, due primarily to Mac OS clone sales.

JSC found Macs cost less.


Cost of ownership






























Beyond initial purchase price is the cost of maintenance, support, life span, upgrades and forward compatibility. For the third year in a row, PC World magazine has rated Apple best in reliability among the 15 major computer vendors.

The Mac OS is less prone to freeze unexpectedly or crash than its Windows 95 counterpart, according to a study by Evans Research Associates. This study shows that users who have used both Macintosh computers and PCs find, by a margin of two to one, the Mac OS to be more stable than Windows 95.

A PC just three years old might not run Windows NT, whereas an eight-year-old Macintosh will run Mac OS 7.6. Even as Apple was transitioning to the PowerPC processor with its RISC architecture in 1994, we made certain that the new computers would run older software. And we will continue to provide this backward compatibility in the future, even as we move forward with new advances in technology.

Gulfstream found that PCs required about 3 times as many support personnel per workstation than Macs. Not surprisingly, this made support costs three times higher.

Intel found that PCs required 4 times the support of Macs.

MacOS costs lots less than Win95/NT. This is a great study and should be required reading for any MIS manager. This magazine accumulated support and installation costs from multiple sources and added the costs of WinNT vs. MacOS. The total cost for MacOS was about half the WinNT cost.

McDonnell Douglas found that PC support costs were 8 times as high as Mac support costs.

Naval Air Systems Command found that Macs were about 35% less expensive to buy and support than PCs.

JSC found Macs easier to install MS Mail.

Training costs










Macintosh is well known for its ease of use but it really goes beyond that. Mac is elegant in its ability to allow not only new users to become productive quickly but enables power users to also be more productive. Applications and data types are built to human interface guidelines that permit users to easily learn new applications or to take data built in one application and reuse it in others.

AppleGuide, Apple's built in help system, not only tells a user how to accomplish tasks but can lead them through the process. Apple Assistants go beyond this by asking the user for pertinent information and then performs the necessary configuration tasks for the user.

With Macintosh and the Apple Internet Connection Kit (AICK), connecting to the Internet is a simple process. AICK will configure everything you need automatically-no confusion with IP addresses, flow controls, and modem speeds. But for the power user who wishes to have multiple ISPs or other TCP/IP connections, configuring PPP and Open Transport is a snap.

Return on Investment









MacOS provides the best in productivity, Life Span and Upgrade capabilities.

Westinghouse did a one year study comparing Macs vs. Wintel boxes. They found that the Mac users (both engineers and secretaries) completed twice as much work as the Windows users over the course of the study. They also found that the 5 year cost of the Macs was less than half that of Windows.

The well-known consulting firm, A.D. Little, compared the productivity of Mac users to Windows users. They found that the Mac users were 44% more productive and 50% more accurate in their work.

The Griffin Dix Research Associates study found ... significantly higher ROI with Macintosh than Windows PCs, proprietary systems, or Unix workstations.






Cost should associate with value. Every Macintosh Computer is a full function system with a 117-300 Mhz PowerPC RISC processor, minimum of 16 megs of RAM, SCSI, Stereo Sound I/O, fast serial ports (1.5mb), SVGA, PCI, keyboard and mouse. Many systems include greater than 1 gigabyte hard drive, CD ROM drive, ZIP drives and Video I/O.


World's Fastest Computers

The newest computers from Apple are the fastest in their classes. The PowerMac 6500/300 is the fastest home computer and the PowerBook 3400/240 is the fastest notebook computer. Macintosh has consistently outperformed the Pentium particularly in applications that utilize floating point operations. The Apple/ Motorola/ IBM alliance is preparing to introduce the third generation of the PowerPC chip that will increase performance even more. Soon systems will ship with processors operating at 250, 300 and 350 Mhz as well as multiprocessor systems with these chips.




























PowerPC processors beat Pentium and Pentium Pro processors. Independent tests prove that today's Power Macintosh computers, based on the PowerPC processor, outperform comparable machines based on the Intel Pentium processor. For example, in an independent benchmark test, PowerPC processors outperformed their Intel counterparts in integer calculations by as much as 81 percent (PowerPC 603e vs. Pentium), and in floating-point calculations by as much as 26 percent.

Based on Macworld Lab tests of state-of-the-art representatives from both platforms, the Mac comes out ahead.

Numerous advanced applications for the Mac OS can support multiprocessing-the ability to use the power of multiple PowerPC microprocessors in the same Macintosh computer. For example, the Power Macintosh 9600/200MP has two 200-megahertz PowerPC processors for maximum processing capability. While Windows NT supports multiprocessing, Windows 95 has no multiprocessing support.


Elegant ease of use






Macintosh has always been known for it's ease of use. Features which Apple developed and built in include true plug and play, multiple monitor support, long file names, telephony, versatile networking, year 2000 support, dependable aliases, CD ROM booting, elegant serviceable designs, Floppy management, WorldScript , mobile computing, AppleScript and AppleGuide .

Macintosh is still the only true "Plug and Play" computer. Computerworld magazine said "The full benefit of plug and play technology in Windows 95 is still two years away." The February 1996 issue of PC World magazine rated the Mac OS the best 32-bit operating system, over Windows 95, Windows NT, and IBM OS/2 Warp.

Macintosh is still significantly ahead of Windows 95 on features.Byte magazine wrote, "To see tomorrow's PC, look at today's Macintosh."

Computer Reseller news wrote, "Market acceptance non withstanding, Windows is far, far behind the Macintosh." Or perhaps consider what PC Computing said: "Macintosh System 7.5.2 is by far the easiest, smoothest, most usable operating system out there."

The Best of 1996 InfoWorlds Technical Support Award - Apple Computer Inc.



The Macintosh has built in support for interoperability with the PC world. Data exchange is built into the Mac OS with PC exchange which supports PC disks and removable media, Mac Easy Open which allows users to assign preferred applications on the Mac platform and DataViz Translators.

Networking provides another easy way to exchange files through a number of methods including AppleTalk, Internet Protocols (TCP/IP), Novell's IPX, MicroSoft's NT Servers, IBM SNA and DECnet.

Macintosh also has the ability to run PC applications with Apple or third part hardware and software such as Insignia's SoftWindows 95, NTrigue and Connectix's Virtual PC.

Unix and Linux will run on the Mac OS today and Rhapsody, Apple's modern OS debuting in 1998, is based on Mach Kernel.


















Apple has been instrumental in many of the innovations in the industry today. From the first commercially successful GUI to CD ROM as a standard part of every computer. This trend continues with new product designs that adopt those industry standards which keep Mac competitive and add real value to surpass the competition. Later this year DVD, Firewire, TriMedia, 100 Base T Ethernet and other technology will be incorporated in the line. The third generation PowerPC chips will extend the performance gap that already exists.

MacOS 8 builds on the functionality of AppleScript and AppleGuide with Apple Assistants, which lead a user through initial setup of the system and networking, and Apple Data Detectors which assist a user with rapid context switches with content sensitive data. (e.g. some one sends you an email with URLs in it, ADD will launch your browser with that URL.)

Apple plans to implement a strategy in which the Company will continue to deliver significant and regularly scheduled upgrades to the current Mac OS while accelerating development of a new and advanced operating system. The new operating system is code-named 'Rhapsody' and will be based on the merging of technologies from Apple and NeXT Software, Inc. As well as providing pioneering next generation technology, Rhapsody aims to provide strong backward compatibility for Mac OS software offering current customers a smooth migration path to the new OS.

Mac Only Software






There are over 14,000 applications that run on a Macintosh, 1899 of which run ONLY on a Mac and over 2700 that are PowerPC native. Many of these are in the Scientific, Engineering and Technical disciplines. Many applications such as Mathematica run faster on Mac than on workstation class systems like Sun or SGI.

NASA has used many of these packages extensively to accomplish parts of their missions:

NASA Headquarters Robotics Division has used Quicktime VR for visualization.

Scientific Computing & Automation has an article on Macs used with the Hubble Space Telescope program.

Langley Research Center uses National Instruments LabView on Macs for data acquisition on the wind tunnels.

Goddard Space Flight Center used a Mac logic board at the center of the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous