Before the widespread use of public key cryptography and the threat of “goto fail” Apple had to rely on a different kind of key to keep its systems secure.
The Quadra 900, 950, Workgroup Server 95, and Workgroup Server 9150 come with a security keyswitch that allows owners to limit access to the computer.
The keyswitch has three positions: OFF, ON, and SECURE. The key can be removed while the switch is in any of the three positions. The operation of the keyswitch is designed to provide a first level of security for users who wish to use it, without being inconvenient for those who don’t.
When the keyswitch is in the SECURE position, the ADB devices and floppy disk drive are disabled. For example, the keyboard does not generate characters, or the mouse moves but no menus can be pulled down. Also, when power is applied to the computer while the keyswitch is in the SECURE position, the computer automatically starts up.
The SECURE position is intended for situations involving remote access, or in which the computer is a network server. In the SECURE position, the computer will automatically power on if power is disrupted (the power cable is removed, or power goes out).
It is worth noting the ill-fated Xserve also used a different allen wench security key to prohibit access to the server’s internal components and to prevent unauthorized external input.
Thank you Riccardo Mori for providing the link, I hope he gets his Quadra 950 fixed soon.
Michael Tsai found this post on Quora post by Randy Wigginton, Apple’s first software engineer, about working with Apple founder, Steve Wozniak.
Working with Woz was like working with the smartest person you’ve ever known kicked up a couple notches combined with a practical joker. The best times Woz and I had were not coding, but rather playing jokes. For example, the Zaltair ad was one of many highlights, as was rearranging the keypad in our hotel phone in Dallas.
In terms of engineering during the early days of Apple, Woz would work in bursts of brilliance and intensity — for example, he developed the Apple ][ disk drive in just a couple of weeks, working every day including Christmas and New Year’s, many times working all night. When he was not on one of his bursts, he would typically work 9-6 like a regular person; we almost always went to breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy. He loved having fun and laughing (and still does!)
After Apple’s resurgence in the early 2000′s and its coming to dominance ten years later, it is easy to forget Apple’s roots in a Los Altos garage and the fun-loving founder who made it all possible. I could not imagine having a better engineer as my boss.
Dan Counsel, of Realmac Software, shares his thoughts about selling software outside the Mac App Store.
When the Mac App Store first launched we were wholeheartedly behind it, we were convinced that this would be the way the majority of apps on the Mac would eventually be purchased. We thought it’d happen quickly so we went Mac App Store-only with most of our apps, and we thought that trying to sell new apps outside of the store would be a waste of time. It turns out we were wrong.
It seems the Mac App Store is just another sales channel, and by not selling directly we’ve potentially hindered our growth as a company. Selling outside of the Mac App Store has its own set of issues: maintaining an online store, app updates, serial number schemes, the list goes on. Even after all that, it still appears to be worth the extra time and effort.
When the Mac App Store was first announced my initial intention was to continue buying my software directly from the developers. I wanted to receive the best customer service, and give 100% of my purchase price back to the software’s creators. I did not expect to be won over by the convenience of the Mac App Store, or the fact that so many apps would be sold exclusively in the Mac App Store.
Today I am glad that after 4 years the Mac App Store has not taken over, and customers still have a choice for how they get their software. I applaud developers who enable that choice. As Dan’s comments show, there is still life outside the Mac App Store.