There’s must be a lot of wrong-atude in wikipedia
So, I was the lead engineer for Mac OS 9 and Mac OS 9.1. That meant that I have a pretty good idea about what we tried to do engineering-wise for Mac OS 9, because in a lot of ways I was one of the folks deciding what to do.
A couple weeks ago, I was surfing and eventually ended up on the Mac OS 9 page at wikipedia, and noticed a couple errors. One was the statement
“Still, Mac OS 9 did not include features common to modern operating systems, such as protected memory (which allegedly was implemented in beta versions of Mac OS 9.1, but pulled at Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ command” …
Now, that’s a good story. It’s got a villian and everything. And, there’s certainly a bit of truth in it — there certainly were some features that we thought about doing for Mac OS 9, and 9.1, and probably 9.2 even, that we didn’t pursue because we knew that Mac OS X was coming, as well as features that we didn’t pursue because we didn’t think we had enough engineers available to do them, or the right engineers, or engineers who were interested in doing it, or many other reasons.
Protected memory was one of those features that we thought about doing. Thought about, that is. We certainly didn’t get far enough into it to have anything implemented by beta, because we never really got far enough to ever know whether we thought we could actually do it. It would have been really hard — lots and lots of stuff would have to change, since the operating system was always designed to have everything in the same memory space, with lots of data structures in memory associated with a particular application pointing to other structures in other application or the system’s memory space. I say with a lot of confidence that we could never have done it for the existing applications; it’s possible with a lot of engineering effort that we could have gotten it to work, poorly ( and with lots of caveats, like most system-patching extensions would fail ). And, by lots of engineering effort, it probably would have taken us a couple years to get it done, by which time Mac OS X would have shipped and Mac OS 9 would be gone.
But, wikipedia says that we had it implemented, and Steve Jobs killed it. They even point to an AppleInsider report that says that they killed it because it overshadowed Mac OS X. Since wikipedia says it, it must be true. It must be true because anyone can edit wikipedia, and so if it weren’t true someone would fix it if they knew it was false, so it must be true.
Except, as I say, it’s not true. So, I clicked on the little edit button, and deleted it. Done! Truth has prevailed; now 10th graders have a reliable source they can crib stuff from when they do their reports.
Then, someone put it back. “reverted an unsourced claim” is the reason; apparently I, a mere Mac OS 9.1 Technical Lead, don’t count as a ‘source’ for something. Rumor site; yes. Someone who was actually at Apple doing stuff; no.
So, I tried to do the right thing. Went to the talk page; gave my qualifications and why I deleted it, waited a couple days, and then deletedi it again.
And, someone put it back again. Now it’s “okay.. you can’t just remove that without explanation”, which sounded to me like he or she had read my explanation and agreed, but that isn’t what it means at all.
So now I get snippy. Since I’m not allowed to remove the incorrect information, I added another clause to the sentence saying that only wikipedia editors believe this. This, apparently is a “remove non-encyclopedic comment” addition, so it’s gone too. And, I’m childish for vandalizing a page.
Bah. Let it be wrong.