Our Friend the Computer

Unitron and the Brazilian Macintosh clone

November 15, 2022 Our Friend the Computer Season 1 Episode 13
Our Friend the Computer
Unitron and the Brazilian Macintosh clone
Show Notes Transcript

Ana and Camila discuss the world’s first macintosh clone, the Mac 512 by Unitron, and how Apple threatened to start a trade war on Brasil due to their clone. Although Unitron was not doing anything wrong with the Brazilian law, Apple tried to get themselves out of financial worries and seized control of how their new hardware and software package (the first Mac) was being sold around the world. This led them to force Brasil to stop producing their Macs, and tighten up restrictions on licensing. The girls dig deeper into how such political rivalry was triggered by the problems of the US’s economic movement of financialization and the tech industry’s laissez-faire attitude of the 80s.

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Main research for the episode was done by Ana who also audio edited.
Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)


Time, "The New Rules of Play", 1968 - https://web.archive.org/web/20071114005733/https://time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,899963,00.html

Mac84, “The Rise and Fall of the Macintosh Clones - Part 1: The Original Apple Hackintosh”, 2021 - youtube.com/watch?v=lwMzYFEGoag, https://mac84.net/web/macintosh-clones/

Adam Rosen, The Cult of Mac, ”Meet Unitron Mac 512: World’s First Macintosh Clone”, 2014 - https://www.cultofmac.com/266710/meet-unitron-mac-512-worlds-first-macintosh-clone/

BrasilWire, “The 1980s Trade War between Brasil… and Apple”, 2015 - https://www.brasilwire.com/the-1980s-trade-war-between-brasil-and-apple/

Mark Fisher, “Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures”, 2014

Jecel Mattos de Assumpcao Jr, “Mac 512” - http://archive.retro.co.za/mirrors/apple/www.lsi.usp.br/~jecel/mac512.html

Okay, we're up. We're recording. I heard that you have a little intro. Oh, yeah, I have an intro. I thought I'd try. So this is our friend, the computer. Welcome, everybody. If you're new here. So, Ana, tell me if you think this is good. This is also you wrote some of this. And I've just changed the way that we explore niche computer histories, focusing on society and politics and alternative narratives to the popular US centric story around the evolution of computers and the World Wide Web. That's so good. It's too long. But I feel like there's something in there, I think. I mean, like, it has to be long for it to happen. To have like, a proper definition. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like we could get it shorter, but I think that this is the closest we've come for me, anyway. Mm hmm. I like that. It's just like a cipher we're trying to solve at the beginning of every episode. Like, do even introduce ourselves at this point. Should we introduce ourselves? No. Okay, I'm anonymous. Sick. You're anonymous. Anon Ana. Anon. And on and on. What have you been up to? How's life? Life's good. Haven't been up to much. Just, you know, dealing with general struggles of life and inflation here in the UK. Just things aren't. Things aren't great. Life isn't great, but we deal with what we have. And it's raining today, so I'm particularly disappointed in the solution. Exactly. I can't play football. I don't really want to meet up with anyone. Could go to the pub. I'd be down for going to the pub. I think you've got to like have a have a comfy cozy time. Yeah. I was actually thinking the other day I would be happy to move like I've always been that person where I'm like, not really stuck to my environment and I'm kind of happy, like moving or like going on a new adventure or whatever. But I think I would really miss the pub, like going to the pub and getting a pint. I miss living inside. Yeah, like year I miss because I'm in New York. I miss like an Aussie pub. Oh, right. You have pubs in Australia, right? Yeah. Like no bars. No, like a pub. Oh right. An app. You do you have Guinness since we do have Guinness. Yeah. Really. Yeah. What best friend is about. It's like an old friend. Well, yeah. Yeah. Irish and English. Yeah. I mean, we have these pubs that are kind of colonial era pubs. Mhm. And they have like a beer garden and there's just a vibe and you know, like a some like there's like a, you know, like there's this colonial vibe that I love. No it's, it's just impossible to find here. And there's the closest you can get is like an Irish pub but it's, it's not an Irish like it's an Irish pub drinking. Yeah. It's just it's not the same. I know. I miss. I miss a pub. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I just grew up like that. I, like, I grew up in Czech Republic, so we would go to the hospital, which is basically a pub, but it's like it's more of like a pub restaurant, canteen situation. And then there are Irish pubs in like the city that like people I'm doctors at, they're like the tombs and they're themed and they like show sports on them and stuff like that. I mean, you would show sports in a hospital too, but like that would we would just go to the hospital. So I think that's, that's one cultural thing that I would really miss. Yeah. Mhm. Anyway, how are you? I'm good. Yes. My mum was in town. I haven't seen her for like three years. That was nice to hang out. Um, but yeah, I've just been kind of doing touristy stuff in New York City for. For the last little bit. I did want to talk. I saw a movie I wanted to talk about. Oh, really? Which one? Oh, yeah, the computer accent. It's a documentary from. Do you know the Panchayat? No. Twice the one of the people in yours is Claire Elle Evans, and she writes about tech and she wrote that book. Did you read that book? Broadband The Untold Story of the Women Who. Yeah, Internet. So she read. I was reading the On the train. Oh, yeah. I used it in our last episode. It was one of my references. Um, I knew her from that stuff from, from this podcast, this stuff. But she's in this band called Yacht with with two other people. And they, they did an album. I can't remember what year they did the album. It was like, is it like a like an indie synthy? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I know. But they made an album entirely created with AI. And so this was a documentary of the making of that album. Okay, so like an or like a pre Holly Herndon indie version? Yeah, it was. I think it was 20, I want to say 2017 or something. I think I like took them a couple of years. So I, I went and saw it at Metrograph in New York and they did a Q&A after which was cool. But what was interesting in the Q&A was they were talking about how like the documentary really shows this process was very like laborious. It was a very and they they really had to participate a lot in the process of like inputting the information and drawing out pulling out information. It took a lot of hours. But I think like soon after they they did it and they released the album Better Software came out like better capabilities happened. And so now this sort of thing is a lot easier. But at the time they had to I think the way they were doing it was they did all the sections separately. So like the lyrics and the melodies and the drum beats and all that sort of stuff, and it was more of a, a collaboration with the AI. So the idea was that they, they could remove things and they could remix stuff around like move things around, but they couldn't add anything. They couldn't be generative, like they as the humans involved, they couldn't make anything new and they didn't have enough. They didn't have enough of their own songs for the like machine learning stuff. So they had to put in all of the melodies. Well, they put in all of their own stuff, but then they put in heaps of songs and things from there in like other bands that influenced them. That's cool. Yeah. Which I thought was kind of nice because clearly that is how their how they naturally were created. But it was also it did seem really annoying to do this. They because all of the music, they had to turn into every track of every song. They had to turn into a MIDI file, okay to put in and then it like spit out MIDI files. And that by the time that they were done with the album, there was like new software. Well, I think they were using a they worked with maybe it was Google, it was some big O Okay. So they got kind of to yeah, they got like early versions of stuff. Yeah. But what was interesting for me, like, I thought it was a really great documentary and it was fun and it was it was definitely a documentary about them as a band, like Through the lens of this particular album. And it seems like they, you know, they're more of a creative project than a band, like a traditional band. And they look at tech a lot like yacht stands for something accompanied by young adults, something, something technology. Yeah, because I've seen like all caps. Yeah, Yeah. So, so there was but it was, you know, like, yeah, it seems like they have these, have other albums that also kind of have a concept like the conceptual sort of albums, I mean, the creation, the form of creation. So it was, it was nice to kind of learn more about them. So I thought it was a very successful documentary, but something that I thought was interesting that I think you would find interesting is that in the film they said at the start that the the kind of the reason they wanted to do this was they wanted to learn, like through the air process what it was that made a yacht song, like what is intrinsic about them because they didn't really know. Yeah. So the idea, I guess is that you put all of the yacht songs into the and influences. Yeah. Yeah. And then it spits out things that they didn't write but, you know, sound like a yacht song. So what is it that makes the yacht song? But it seems like they never really got an answer to that. I think the pictures are very like ephemeral. Abstract. Yeah. Which is kind of very nice, actually. Yeah. And it was an interesting sort of discussion around what is creativity or what. Yeah, like the identity of a band and how it's like so much more complex than just a developer's tool kit. Yeah, Yeah. In the Q&A, someone asked also if you have the same song and like exactly the same song, and in one instance it's made by humans, and in one instance it's made by a computer. Is there a difference in how you see that song? Totally. I mean, there wasn't really an answer. It was a more of a discussion. But I, I think so. I think there's a lot of bias. Well, for me, I think that something that is so important about creativity is the kind of human drive to create. And the fact that it is hard and that you're having to kind of work through your own emotions to try and get to a point where you have like a finished thing that connects with other people that you believe in, that is lost with when computers make things. And it also just kind of if you had a really beautiful song and you're like, Oh, this musician must have really felt this heartbreak or whatever, and I am heartbroken so I can relate. And then you find out that it's an algorithm, even if it's just as beautiful. I think there is a difference. Yeah, I don't know if I would feel the same thing if I would, I would be going through heartbreak and I'd be obsessed with this one song. And then I found out that it was an algorithm at the end of it. I don't think my sentiments about that song would change because I know that it's already impacted me. But when I'm listening to a song and I want to be impressed, or like when I'm listening to an album and I want to be impressed by it, I, I probably subconsciously take into a chord like the the time that has been the labor that has been put in by the people. So it's like the same as like if someone would knit a sweater for you. And I like your mom and she's taken like a month to do it and then that and that. So that's different to them, like a machine doing it in like a factory. And that's actually such a good analogy, right? Yeah, Let's make things for people all the time. But I also love I love computers and I love automation, but I love also just like making stuff, like I'm obsessed with it. I get completely addicted to things like knitting. And and I think part of that is because I know that, like, I'm doing it for someone or I'm doing it for like this, and I like this feeling of beauty in that of knowing every stitch of something. Yeah. Like if I'm wearing a sweater, I need it. Or even, you know, like a sewn top or something. It's like, Oh, I know. Very like, you touched every moment of construction, But that's sort of an interesting analogy too, because it was it you that was talking another episode about, um, maybe with your Luddite interest around weaving machines and that they were kind of early sort of computer style machines. Yeah. So that it's the Luddite movement happened in the textile industry. Mm. And even like coding and looms are essentially made from the same kind of like logic. I'll leave it at that. Yeah, that's right. I love it. But I want to get into our topic today, which is, is your you're leading this one and I'm excited about it. Yeah. Me too. Because it also kind of links to a previous one that we that we did. I don't remember how we like stumbled upon this one, but you sent it to me and I remember us talking. Yeah, we used to go. I started to kind of compile some topics around microcomputers and clones. It's interesting. I like the So we're basically talking about how there was a lot of gray areas in the policies around cloning hardware and software, especially when technology was rising in the eighties and microchips routers were were starting up. So do you want to maybe mention like what a clone is? So a clone is when a software or hardware company, a tech company, licenses their designs. So that other third party companies can buy that license and buy their sort of rights and then start producing their own and manufacture and fabricate it in, let's say, other countries where maybe these materials are a little cheaper. Cloned can happen in very legal ways. So like the word clone can be a little bit like, ooh, Bladerunner, but it's there. It's very legal. It's a legal process. Well, I guess like any Blade Runner since the beginning, sometimes it's hard to tell what's a clone and what exactly. Yeah, but then cloning also happened illegally. And this is kind of what this story is about. But again, a bit of a question mark at the end of this episode, whether this was legal or illegal. I think different people have different opinions about it. Yeah, I think it's right that they got into trouble. No. Okay. But anyway, I have to tell you this story. Well, let's take it back to 1985. In 1985, American capitalism was basically soaring because Reagan implemented, like I said, neoliberal policies, a laissez faire economic attitude and aimed to basically stimulate the economy with really large tax cuts. He also increased military spending, which apparently contributed to a near tripling of the federal debt. And another thing I realized when I was researching this episode is that he sent police officers and troops to stamp out the student demonstrations at UC Berkeley, which was in 69. So this was a while ago, but it was still when he was, I think, governor of California. And these demonstrations were originally organized to discuss Israel's apartheid against Palestine. And this led to an incident known as Bloody Thursday, which was so violent that student James Rector died and Alan Blanchard was blinded and Reagan still carried on and called out over 2000 National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for about two weeks. So that he could crack down on the protesters. Well, and one year after this had happened, he persistently defended himself and stated, If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement. So he's basically a fascist. And a lot of students at Berkeley were part of the like new left, you know, anti war liberation of the mind tech independence thinking that started Hollerith catalog and Homebrew computer club so is that like we talked in in another episode around how some of the early like Adobe and Pixar and stuff were kind of like you know incubator was that this and they were kind of all next to each other and is that this. Yeah I guess later I think that must have been Yeah. Sixties and seventies while OGAs was being developed in Russia. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely Like a lot of countercultural stuff was happening that really dovetailed into tech sovereignty and, and like independence through via tech. Mm hmm. Yeah. And I think that was actually roughly around the same time when the government, because of the Red Scare, was like putting loads of money into tech like labs at universities. That's sort of interesting that Yeah, very interesting you brought that up actually. But that sort of Reagan was kind of against these new left Yankees at Berkeley but at the same time was, was funding them to like try and fit I guess like defeat Russia. Well I guess two things I'll say. Firstly, that I suppose, you know, there's a difference between the people you have control over and that you're putting money into versus the people that are like protesting and doing things and you don't have control over them. So I can I guess I can say that there's a slight difference in terms of government perception of these two sort of worlds. Yeah, but also, you know, we saw this with the Cold War stuff with art as well and abstract expressionism and yeah, the government fund. So secretly or not so secretly funding the idea of freedom of expression because that is I guess an American idea that they saw as like counter to. Yeah. Like the, the communists communism and things which isn't, you know, necessarily true or socialism but yeah, yeah. I just, I hadn't really thought about it in the context. Yeah that's true. No it's, it's true. It's, yeah, it was a weird time because especially for the new left, like you had, you know, these countercultural lists, but then you also had techies like hobbyists and just a joy in those movements. And I think that there was a lot of dispute about what technology meant, like was it like a machine to support the larger machine, the system, the churning of the constant circulation of capitalism or was it like were they tools to just like liberate us in our minds? And the kind of the sad paradox that happened then towards the end of the movement of like what I think put an end to it was that the new left became obsessed with like, Well, if you're happy and your mind is happy, then nothing can touch you. So they actually, like a lot of these protests, die down and they stopped fighting because they were just like, Well, we're just going to retreat and we're just going to form on like pathologizing ourselves or either joining a communes or whatever. And it was more about just like this, like self-actualization rather than like fighting with our bodies to, like, get shit done. But anyway, it's just, it's a very interesting movement and I'm doing a lot of research about it at the moment. But essentially, you know, a lot of tech companies came out of this and it also led to the birth of Apple because Homebrew Computer Club was a sort of this computer hobbyist group in Menlo Park in California. And they had a really influential role in developing microcomputers and just started Silicon Valley, put Silicon Valley on the map. So it is it is sort of it, yeah. An interesting concept now that we're so far in the future to look back at that time and and think about how that was kind of a, Yeah, sort of hippie movement. Very kind of, yeah. Hobby ish and independent groups sort of hacking things. And outside of logical gyrations and that that is now shifted, That is now to what is like the U.S. economy. Yeah, yeah, sure. I actually was talking to someone the other day and she was like, wait, did Silicon Valley exist before it became like a tech part? Like, was it called Silicon Valley? Like, was they called Silicon Valley? So the Silicon Valley name coined by entrepreneur Ralph first in the 1970s, originally derived from the region's large number of silicon chip manufacturers. Yeah, there you go. That's from a website tech Target.com. But it's literally it's I'm just reading it from the Google search tool and we have Apple. Yeah. Going back to Reagan and Apple. So Reagan was obviously hated by a lot of the new left counterculture list that started at Berkeley and the student protests. But in this episode, we'll kind of get to see how, you know, once Apple became established, it began to like rub shoulders with the U.S. government. Also, probably like you said, because they were funded by or a lot of the people working in that industry were funded by the government, the sort of mindset which was, you know, freedom of information and freedom of the mind attitude really started to just shift a little and get within within Apple. Within Apple specifically. We'll talk about now. Yeah. So the U.S. companies at the time were really swimming in a sort of wild west of competition as well. Like I said, a lot of gray areas with intellectual property policies. There was a lot of rivalry also, just like a general hunger for making profit within this new, like unregulated market that Reagan had so generously gifted to the economy. And like I said, one of those companies was Apple. The story I'm about to tell is about the kind of failure of how they tried to navigate that by the fear of licensing policies, political rivalry between states which actually resulted in a near trade war and just the risky endeavors businesses had to take to stay afloat within the emerging and flooding tech world of the eighties. As we said before, about 1985, the eighties in general were a crucial part of historical development under capitalism. Like at a certain point, the U.S. was very good at industrializing very quickly, but then it reached a level of sufficient industrialization. So this was a time of like financialization, and new personal tech was becoming the mode to optimize for that, especially with banking like pages, right? Exac Palm Pilots. Yeah. Fax faxing, the beeper. Like I said, Marc Fisher claims that the eighties was really a time that like represented these two diverging past a history could have taken the Reagan and Thatcher revolution path was taken and he says that this was also a time where we where we kind of switched tracks from one trajectory of history into another. What was the other path? Well, I guess socialism and democratic socialism, strong unions, I guess that is the question. Like, you know what what, what the alternative would have been. Yeah. So even in the southern hemisphere, Brazil had just gotten out of military rule and had strict market policy for computer sales and it was not allowing imports of computers. So all computers sold in their country had to be made in Brazil. I feel like we saw I mean, probably a little bit differently. But when we were talking about minutes, how in France, some of the kind of impetus for developing Intel was around having more autonomy in there, like tech hardware and software. But I mean, that at the time was more around phones when it started. But I think that, you know, it was this idea of like, we want tech made in our country so that we are relying on like imports and other things. I mean, this is more of I like, you know, a strict law around inputs, but it was happening around the same time. Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of countries probably had the same idea of like this technology is coming about like how do we harness that the most to make the most amount of GDP and not rely on extremely pricey various relationships with other countries for something, for something that was becoming obviously quite important? Yeah, I think a lot of countries saw this as like producing their own tech is like the golden ticket to to being this wealthy, independent state. And you know, as a consequence, Brazil was pretty successful at doing that. They really mastered the art of cloning hardware and software from original computers that were popular. Not to always bring this back to minute how or just to always bring it back to minute. How we we did that other episode of bout minute how in Brazil with yeah artist Eduardo cuts and I'm just trying to like think back to it but wasn't that that yeah Intel was selling their system to other countries but I think that Brazil made their own cartel hardware. Yeah and they were just selling that because when I, because I went to the he had an excellent like a retrospective exhibition in New York earlier this year and I went and it was the first time I ever saw a minotaur terminal and I got very I know they're great, but I took like videos and everything. I, you know, real about it. But those ones I remember were the French Minotaur terminals. But he was saying that like, actually originally they would have been on like Brazilian minute hotel and it was just that it was hard to get that. Now. And then also in that episode, we talked a little bit about how, though, like the artistic use of technology in Brazil at the time, which was I think this same time, because it was at the end of the military dictatorship and it was like quite a long transition period. So so during that period, I think with where stuff was starting to open up a little bit, but it was still like a bit precarious and it yeah, it was like lots of artists were using the technology to make artworks and to find spaces to in the digital world to be creative and talk about ideas for, you know, building, building the country and, and things like that. So it's kind of interesting to hear about this side of, Yeah, yeah, totally. I guess if you're if you're already cloning hardware, you're experimenting with that technology already, you're reverse engineering a lot of that technology. And if you start producing your own like clones of things, you start to realize that like you can kind of do anything, like you can really turn it into your own thing, but along with that, cloning and hardware. So they were cloning like pieces and things. They were cloning pieces, yeah. But then they also started to clone some Apple products. And one of the one of the first computers was the first Macintosh. To explain the reason for this, I just have to go back in time a little and talk about why Apple are so stubborn with their licensing. In the early 1980s, Apple was still very much enjoying the success of their Apple two line of personal computers. But after some rocky years and failed product launches, they put all of their focus on a new personal computer designed for the rest of us, which was the Macintosh. That line is very like you're a spokesperson for that. All right. A new personal computer designed for the rest of us. It was like made is supposed to be made for people and like people that hadn't really touched a computer before, whereas before that it was more programmers that were using Apple products and like hobbyists and stuff. And when it was first introduced in 84, it also included its own operating system with a friendly design, a kind of literally friendly right, like a smiley face. Yeah, There was like, you know, rounded corners and like, sleek things and like a crisp monitor. And it included the Finder app, which meant that users didn't have to work with a terminal anymore. People didn't have to memorize special computer commands or understand programing syntax to perform very basic tasks. And they had moderate success in 85. And then sales started to kind of slow down and a lot of the team were leaving due to burnout and like lack of commercial success that was really hyped up by the campaigners. And the lack of sales were largely due to it being too expensive. There's an article called The Rise and Fall of the Macintosh Clones, where Mac, 84, says that it sold for 2,495 USD, and that's 500 more than Apple's previous targeted price and about 6000 U.S. dollars when adjusted to inflation today. Whoa. Yeah, I need a new laptop. And I was complaining and I know. Yeah, but also like, imagine how cheap computers will be in like 20 years anyway, all of that just going to get more and more expensive. Are they're going to. Yeah. And soon it'll get back. Get back. Yeah. Yeah exactly. Inflation doesn't really mean that it gets cheaper. No. So it also had 128 killer bytes of memory which was not upgradeable. This is really funny. The fancy bitmap graphics required a lot of memory, so it was actually quite ungenerous to other programs and they weren't able to run as smoothly as they could have just because, like the interface is a little too friendly, a little too like pretty. And yeah, it also had one floppy disk drive, whereas only what I know is that like how I complain about about having only only U.S.. Yeah, exactly. They just keep like taking things away from the design and it just made it really annoying for like hobbyists and like nerds to use because they would like with other PCs or you would like have multiple disk drives and you could swap them quite easily for things. But with this one you just had one. And it also didn't have a native code compiler for software developers, so they usually had to work with like a separate computer, the Apple etc. to develop Mac programs. So yeah, it was also just kind of like two new and different of a product for a lot of users and had like a strange new mouse and like lacked some keys on the keyboard. I wanted to do like a mouse history deep dive because it's so interesting, all the different designs that happened. And now I don't have a trackpad mostly. But when we were doing the last episode, the Doomsday episode, they mentioned the trackball as the like mouse option that it was, Oh, you get you can like scroll around the screen. Oh yeah, yeah. With the ball. But it was a whole, it was a new and new design. It was kind of a thing that's interesting because I try to come up with new designs. Yeah, because I thought the, like the checkerboard in, like modern mouse mice is kind of a new addition. But it's interesting that the Checker ball was introduced in the eighties and I mean, I just miss those, those mice that had the Yeah, they had the ball in the bottom. Yeah. And then you had the bearings Are alchemists generally fascinate. I can like design completely feel I have I like sense memory of the little ball. It's very it's very sensual Yeah. Yeah it's a fun little design but yeah I mean a lot of people still loved the Mac even though it was kind of dismissed as like a toy. Is that because it was just like, simple to use? Exactly. The Finder feature was very approachable and simple to use. Kind of a game changer for computers overall, because obviously now every computer has like a finder or an Explorer thing, but the main selling point is actually that it was the coupling, like you said, of the hardware with the iMac designed operating system. Since both software and hardware were designed and engineered by Apple. So it just worked together quite well, which was very attractive to those who had never approached Wall Street, who had never purchased computers before. This is the thing, though, right, that it's like, Yeah, that's really good, but it means that it's not able to exist with other systems like outside of design. LITTLE Yeah, like it's a package, but there are pros and cons with it being a package. Yeah. The Mac also had a ROM which contained crucial instructions that enabled the computer to run on only on Apple Hardware. This was like a major business strategy and it was obvious that Apple did not want to share their operating system with others. But outsiders really wanted Apple to license the OS to other manufacturers, which was very common to do by all other tech companies. What are those people with Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, who who wrote several letters to the CEO and the head of development of Apple, claiming that if they want the Mac to succeed, they'll have to license the OS out and that they're a threat. So a lot of like big short tech guys like Bill Gates just wanted to like stimulate the tech industry so much. Yeah. They just wanted like everyone to kind of compete as much as possible. But yeah, there was like constant debates about licensing the OS within the company. There was a lot of back forth, there was loads of people at the top that had very divergent views. But Apple remained to only have their OS run on their machines. In the end. But that didn't stop other companies from testing it. The very first clone was of course made in Brazil by a company called Unit Tron, Adam Rosen from the Cult of Mac. Right. The initial plan was to negotiate some sort of licensing agreement with Apple. Unfortunate The Apple refused to do this without owning at least 51% of the ensuing venture, which was like Shark Tank. Yeah, exactly. Know, it was all like Shark Tank, which was prohibited under Brazilian law. So Unit Tron decided to go ahead without Apple's blessing and Unit Tron had already successfully cloned the Apple two without angering Apple's lawyers too much. So it seemed a realistic target. So they they did the apple to clone and didn't talk to Apple and then when they're going to do the Mac, they go to Apple and say, hey, we want to do this right is not Shell. And they came with a bad deal. Okay. Yeah, they got they got a bad deal. And so they decided, you know, if it yeah, we'll do our own thing. And it was backed by the government so they really didn't they knew that they couldn't really get into trouble with their own country so they were back at the government. Yeah. Well you know Toronto was actually even able to get a $10 million loan from the government and eventually also managed to reverse engineer the ROM on their chips with with the national chip manufacturer and also the support of various university labs. So this was a big undertaking. Yeah, it was huge. They were also putting loads of money into tech development and unit. Trump said that their roms were made using the specifications from the Macintosh manuals rather than like that they had completely copied them. I like that. I like the idea of them sitting down with just, I know the manual you get with your computer. Yeah, It was like Stonehenge, unlike some other documentation that they managed to get. Maybe like the patent. Mm. And another business. I mean, either just what I learned from grace is very complicated as to how they manufactured the ROMs. No one really knows. But regardless, you know, Tron released the first Mac clone called the Mac five, went to with the operating system, even translated into Portuguese, which is so cool. Apple heard about this at a convention and somehow acquired who is the snitch. Yeah so again unknown. They managed to get a couple of the computers and disassembled them and apparently saw that only a few bytes had been changed on the wrong, but that most of it was copied. Since Apple only obtained not many the clones. There's some dispute as to whether they were just prototypes, especially copies of an exactly like they could have been prototypes fitted with copies of Apple ROMs for compatibility testing, you know, so that it could have been that only later models had had the reverse engineer draw, or it could have also been the case that whether you did try and even successfully reverse engineer at the rim at all. I mean I want them to have been successful, like to have reverse engineer, to have Apple to look at it and be like, there's only a few bytes that are different is kind of beautiful. But also I suppose that Apple protesting about it or, you know, discovering it maybe makes it seem more legitimate than it maybe was. Yeah, Apparently they they went to the convention, saw these things, managed to acquire some, but again, like the story around like how they acquired them isn't really published like sounds sort of like an undercover operation. Yeah. Like there isn't that much evidence of the difference between the ROMs because it could have been, again, that they were just like proto or like the hardware was just prototypes and there were fitted with these copies. Like, it's very unclear. The whole story is very foggy. But after this little moment at the convention, Tron did like make them on a larger scale. Okay? Yes. Yeah, they designed and they produced them. And Apple got really mad and claimed that unit Tron were thieves of apples intellectual property and they asked the US government to put pressure on the Brazilian government to stop sales of the clones. But did does Apple have any legal claim in and in Brazil at this point? No. Right. I Tron didn't actually break any Brazilian laws as Apple had not protected its rights in Brazil, but with increased pressure and threats by the United States unit TRON eventually backed down and their Mac clone project was scrapped, which is. Well, that's wild. It's just like Apple have so connection to the government. Yeah that they could just be like go go be mean to Brazil because that there's a company in Brazil doing something that we don't like. Yeah yeah absolutely It's not even was Apple selling computers in Brazil. No. Because they couldn't import them. No, it's a closed market. It's not like you can even. Yeah. That whole country is totally shut up to shut off to them I guess because it was the first time that this was happening, they wouldn't have wanted it to proliferate. Yeah. I think also it's interesting you say that because I think that this was also a good opportunity for the US government, not just Apple but the US government, to try and pressure Brazil to start importing computers. Oh, I don't. This is just my opinion like this that I just kind of made this analysis from what you said. So what were the what did the U.S. government do? So basically, Apple wasn't alone in coercing their government. They got support from other tech companies like IBM and Microsoft, who lobbied Congress because I guess they were making in Brazil and I suppose everywhere for PCs, they were making clones of of those computers, too. Yeah, Yeah. That was I mean, they were legal clones. They were legal clones. But so like, licensing was not enough money. They wanted to sell their products to Brazil. Yeah, it was it was like a perfect way to kind of control the financial situation because they wanted Congress to hike import taxes on Brazilian goods and profitable products in major industries like importing into the United States. Yeah. Okay. So the products that would be targeted were things like shoes and textiles and orange juice and steel. I mean, like imagine what Brazil would be without the sales of havaianas flip flops. It would be a tragedy. But yeah, like the effect that this would have on the economy would be pretty big since these were important exports. Yeah, these like their major exports shoes, textiles. RS Shoes, steel. Yeah. I that's a bit like, you know, that book Guns, Germs and Steel. Right. So she is textiles are shoes and steel. Yeah. What was it with your Cyrus in one like bread justice or just you know the the title of my cyrusone project was read as Bread and Justice Pictures of Bananas. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, even like before the ultimate hit from Apple, Unicron was facing obstacle after obstacle. And it's even kind of a miracle that these clones existed because of this. Like, import ban. Yeah. How did they make all of the parts of the computers? Well, they just had factories that were able to make them, and they worked with labs, like I said. And they had did they make their own computers as well, Like outside of clones, I think. I guess so. Oh, I want to look into that. Well, they they were producing units. One was producing parts for tech for other industries. I don't know if they made for computers, but we can look into that as an example of one of these challenges. Rosen states that even after obtaining their loan, the government was refusing to let them import 3.5 inch floppy disk drives and instead wanted them to adopt locally, made 5.25 inch mechanisms instead. And Unicron did wind up using the 3.5 inch mechanisms which look like those in generic PC clones, but had to build their own floppy drive factory in order to do so. Floppy drive factory. Such a good name. So yeah, it seemed like they were just like attacked from all angles. It was, you know, same thing with the A.I. stuff like, totally laborious, like so much more work than than anyone would have predicted, but still kind of like, edged on by the official appraisers who were funding the project, who were right, like the government funding them. But exactly. But at the same time making it really difficult for them to like produce and yeah, that idea that they make everything in country in very specific ways. Yeah. And what's also annoying is that apparently Apple infiltrated the Brazilian press with stories of Unicron being pirates and that they would ruin the economy. Ruin the Brazilian economy? Yeah. Ruin the Brazilian. But that's Apple doing that also. Yeah. Apple's just butthurt. Yeah, but they really tried to create a narrative of Brazil being a corrupt country from this story back in the states, you know like really played into their hands of their, their southern counterparts like being this like country that had just come out of the come out of a dictatorship and now, like, everything's kind of going wrong and there's an article by some style and he wrote that some articles claimed that they had used a government run lab to crack open Apple's chips to copy them. And one of the headlines says your tax money is being used to help commit a crime. It's sort of like I wonder if some of this is what you were saying before. I guess about like, you know, they I guess they're wanting the U.S. is wanting them to open up more so that the U.S. can make money by exporting tech stuff. And if they do that, then they're seen as like a socialist dictatorship. Right. But maybe country is also like the U.S. government getting scared or mad that that they're sort of finding that Brazil is finding their own way into tech without the U.S. and, you know, progress. Absolutely. Yeah. And sadly, the government eventually canceled the Mac five, went to Project unit Tron, had to downsize and only made electronic equipment for industries and their apple to clones were also starting to decline in demand. I just had a thought about something, you know, at the very start of this of the story. And you were talking about how like Apple was their sales were declining. Is some this also like around that they're kind of like where's where's our market It's getting smaller being under threat little bit. I'm not sure. I guess it would be difficult to calculate. I know that definitely a lot of it was just to do with the desire and being to freaky and new and their audience had shifted from being hobbyist developer nerds that knew how to program and develop MAC programs to first time users and people that aren't very tech literate. MM And it was also just really expensive, like for a first time user, why would you put so much money into this new thing? You know? Yeah. So the government was the one that canceled the unit trial or like the Yes, I guess the funding. Brazil's government got scared and they canceled the scrapped the project. I think 500 computers were still able to be sold and they didn't sell them because it was scrapped. They weren't allowed to it would be illegal to. So yeah, they it was it was pretty sad and very sad. And yeah, it's just wild that it's like this private company in the United States and their little fight with relatively small company in another country that has just maybe done something that upset Apple. Yeah. And then they, they have the power to stop it. Yeah I guess like almost this trade war. Yeah. Of the threat of it it's a bit of like a butterfly effect. Kind of like I'm sure that unicorn didn't think that this was to cause. No, definitely. And it was a very serious threat to the point where, like, Brazil's government ended up scrapping the project. Like if they didn't see that as a serious threat, they wouldn't do it. Yeah. So that's that's like how bad it was. And keeping in mind that like Reagan is still in power, like it was definitely a good way to frame Brazil and South America as like this part of this socialist kind of undertaking movement that was that was trying to ruin the economy, that were the pirates, you know, and then also the designs for the Mac five went to were sold to a Taiwanese company. But an Apple once again, immediately just shut that down as well. That was ad by the Taiwanese company reinforced it. So yeah, now Brazil's market was only open for PC clones, which didn't have the same manufacturing restrictions. And it's quite funny because Brazil's people just didn't really have that much exposure to Macintosh as a company. And so the Apple sales in Brazil, once they opened up the importing gates, were very low. This like without any like vengeful effort from the government or anything. But they were just very low for Apple because people just didn't know what it was. They didn't understand it. And just Apple had the same problem that they did with the states back then. They had them. They had the species. Now it seems like an apple problem. It's a real problem. Also. Guess what? For a brief period, what Bill decided to license the OS to third party clone doctors. Yeah, they were just so desperate for sales. And some of the clones performed better than Apple's. And the Clones started to take sales away from Apple just as predicted. Perform better in terms of sales or perform better in terms of like the tech did. Like the tech. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah, Yeah. But then Steve Jobs happened in 1997 and he bought he wanted licensing to end as well. He very much believed in the original kind of Yeah. To couple hard with software package business strategy and he bought power computing which was the best clone making company worldwide and he ordered them to end the reproductions along with the licensing decision. And since then, Apple has not licensed the Mac OS nor allowed any companies to manufacture Apple compatible hardware, which I think is a real shame considering the clones were usually better and faster than the originals and cheaper. And on top of that, the clones were made in, you know, quite restricted manufacturing environments. So just imagine like what other stuff could have been invented. And if these damn lawyers and sanctions didn't get in the way, it's also kind of like feels like a moment of shift, a kind of important moment in the history of computers, a way, a shift away from that sort of homebrew computer club and that sort of style of tech of experimentation and hacking and and play to this more sort of proprietary style of malware could suffer. Yeah, definitely. Because it really closes a door like this moment closes a door on being able to like, Yeah, play around inside the computers. Absolutely. Yeah. Little organizations and little companies weren't able to they were too scared to to mess around with intellectual property rights. And this is yet another example of how the US's laissez faire attitude created this kind of like dog eat dog world, except it's tech company, a tech company world. And again, like just continuing to make you know, lawyer paychecks. Yeah so anti lawyer this episode I know I'm really rooting for unity on underdog but yeah this leads like outside forces to be affected to like Brazil and the US triggers like a fight and Apple is you know just so petty that along with the government as their partner in crime, they literally have a chip on their shoulder, which is something that I wrote. But I'm very proud of. It's good. It's good, right? Yeah. Thank you. I wanted to actually say that joke like, earlier on, but I just I had You should have said multiple times. Yeah. It's a sort of tricky situation because in a way, like, I do understand that if Apple or if a company has a particular vision of how they want the hardware or software to be available, or even if it goes against the sort of traditional way that that style of business is run, I do think that they should be allowed to. I guess, I mean, now that we're in a world where we're so consumed or connected to our lives are run by these machines, you know, maybe that's a different and maybe I have a different attitude around it if no, you know, that it was going to become so big in the future, but at the same time like it didn't doesn't seem like Unicron was doing anything particularly wrong and that they had sort of previously done similar things and that this stuff was just happening anyway, even though they were a sort of big ish company in Brazil, like in terms of comparison to Apple, like in the U.S., it seems like it's quite small. It's a smaller market, but it's just it's like calm down, you know, like I think what what really irks me with with Apple in general is that they very much preach a world that is tech savvy, that has freedom of information, freedom of access by these computers, and they're able to, like piggyback on that ethos since the beginning and then like twist it and subvert it into their own, like profit making incentives, which actually then in the end, just like, ends up creating opposing results. And that's kind of like the the story of Silicon Valley right? Totally. You know, even with, you know, we've seen it through like physical production of computers and funding and things like that in this episode where it was all very kind of happy and open and then switched into a closed environment, but also just that kind of ethos and using that legacy or myth of Silicon Valley and of computers in general and what we wished computers would be. I think it's easy to be blinded by that myth and that story that gets told over and over again in advertising and in everything. That's not what the world is like. You know, even looking at Google and I was doing some research on search engines about search engines on search engines earlier. And it is really hard to functionally use Google as a search engine now because it's so infiltrated off with ads, they're just completely integrated. But originally, the whole idea was that it was like, oh, we're going to open up the Internet. You can find what you need. And like all of these things, yeah, it's this story that we're told, but when you actually think about it, it's hiding a lot of other darker and more sort of profit driven ideas. Yeah. And also, like, the more that Apple gets successful, the more money that they make the, the easier it is for them to just like, get away with these things. And it's just tragically funny how the government, like Reagan's government was so like pro laissez faire and liberalizing the economy. But once they got to extending that to Brazil, they were like, no, we have to we have to regulate this as much as possible and we have to gain control of these sales as much as possible. The history that is the history of control. You know, it's this idea of freedom, but it's all kind of wrapped up with multiple levels of control of the people and control of the rest of the world to keep that power. And that concept totally B.S.. I mean, this is like, I'm sorry about this episode of so long, but don't apologize. But this this like example is very representative of like, you know, as long as these companies are made in the name of profit, that freedom of access will never really fully be achieved. Like the terms freedom of access in its full form will never be fully realized. So I guess that's it. Thank You so much? Yeah. No, thank you. Really good input. I think we're going to have to end it here. Yeah, I can see the window behind you and it's getting dark. Thanks so much for listening, everyone. We're doing monthly episodes at the moment, so, um, well, we will be back with you next month. Yes. Have a nice time on your computer in the meantime. Yeah. Have a fun time on your computer. Thanks for listening, everyone. Bye bye.