Additional Information











January 1986 ushered the introduction of the Macintosh Plus, with a full megabyte of RAM. Still, the Macintosh Finder and System were designed to run only one application at a time, with no multitasking support built into the operating system despite proven ability to run multiple applications in a smaller RAM footprint. Another application, like Multi-Mac, was needed to tap the megabyte of RAM now available to the needy Macintosh user. In addition to the upgraded RAM capacity of 4 MB, the Macintosh Plus shipped with a new 128K ROM and support for System 5.



In September of 1986 Andy Hertzfeld released Servant, an alternative next generation Finder, Switcher, and Resource Editor, all combined into a single application accessible from a recognizable but updated GUI. Designed to run on only the new 128K ROM, Servant went through many expiring versions, marching towards version .953, which seems to be a final version as it no longer expires according the the date set on the Macintosh.






Servant represents an alternative interface to the Macintosh GUI and user environment. Had the ideas of Servant been further refined and adopted by Apple in subsequent versions of the Macintosh System, Apple harware might have run a much different operating system with different capabilities. These pages examine Servant version .953. While by no means a completed project, Servant offers an exciting alternative to the Macintosh user experience, from its GUI to its capabilities, at an early period in the evolution of the Macintosh platform. Some features would be incorporated into subsequent official releases of the Macintosh System Software, which in turn would become Macintosh OS, while others proved impractical or were ignored.


Servant handles switching between applications the same as Andy Hertzfeld's Switcher application: while not true multitasking because the foreground application dominates the CPU, applications could be run simultaneously and Clipboard contents could be shared between applications. Support for MacinTalk, which allowed the Macintosh to "speak" selected text, as well as resource editing and the ability to set a custom background image made Servant a Finder replacement ahead of its time. You may examine the three technologies, Finder, Switcher, and ResEdit, that were incorporated into Servant, and consider the possibile routes that Macintosh System Software might have taken.



copyright 2002 Josh Burker



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