sardaukar_siet : First off, who are you?
Cliff Matthews : I am Cliff Matthews, founder of ARDI. I'm 37, I began work on ROMlib (ROMlib is the rewrite of the ROMs which is at the heart of Executor and Carbonless Copies) in 1986. I received a MSCS from the University of New Mexico in 1985. I started programming professionally when I was 16. During ARDI's early days I made a nice living doing contract work for a large investment bank in Manhattan -- I can easily make a good living working for others.
sardaukar_siet : What was your first computer?
Cliff Matthews : I used a lot of DEC machines when I was youngish -- PDP-10, PDP-8, PDP-11. My *first* computer was a RCA CDP-1802 based homebrew known as the Elf. (built out of \"Popular Electronics\").
MeanE : When or where did you get the idea to make a Mac emulator?
Cliff Matthews : In 1986 I began work on ROMlib. The immediate goal was source-code compatibility with an eye towards binary compatibility.
sardaukar_siet : Why go the hard way? I mean, why not use the original ROMs to assure greater compatibility?
Cliff Matthews : There's no money in using ROMs. If you use ROMs you have very little to offer, (from a business perspective)
sardaukar_siet : Most emulators are made by veteran coders, who release them as freeware since the projects are mostly hobbies and fun. Why was ARDI's approach to emulation a corporate one?
Cliff Matthews : That was my goal from day one, to found a company and make money. I founded ARDI before anyone else was doing Macintosh emulation. In fact, Apple had recently sued DRI for \"look-and-feel\" copyright infringement. ARDI is what I do full-time. We're a private Delaware company. We're in this to make money.
sardaukar_siet : DRI?
Cliff Matthews : DRI was Digital Research, Inc. They made the GEM OS. Apple was one of the first companies to have a graphical user interface.
sardaukar_siet : Why Mac? What was Mac's place on the computer scene during the 80's?
Cliff Matthews : Since Apple was one of the first, that meant that the preponderance of early GUI source code was written for the Macintosh. My background comes from UNIX (I started playing with UNIX in 1981), so I had a chance to write a set of libraries that could be used to bring Macintosh programs onto UNIX platforms, like the SUN3 series.
sardaukar_siet : Why port it? Why not keep working and developing in the Mac world?
Cliff Matthews : I was never in the Mac world. I came from a UNIX background. I saw a market for \"ROMlib\", so I wrote ROMlib. I didn't know a lot about running a business and that caused some trouble. A company called \"Quorum\" wound up doing much the same thing we were doing. They got Sun, Adobe and Silicon Graphics (IIRC) to support them. It's a shame, because I think they were technically flawed, but well connected business-wise. We were the reverse.
Cliff Matthews : People wanted to know if ROMlib would be good enough to, as an example, run Microsoft Word. I would say \"yes, I believe so\", but without the source to Microsoft Word I certainly couldn't test or prove my point.
sardaukar_siet : The source for WORD? I think it's easier to get the key to Fort Knox! ;)
Cliff Matthews : So to demonstrate that our source-compatibility product really *was* written with an eye towards binary compatibility, I created \"executor\" on the Sun3/60. One of the first major apps we had working was \"Word\". So we sold \"Executor-MSW\" to allow NeXT hardware owners to run Word on their Slabs and Cubes.
sardaukar_siet : Did that raise any issues with Microsoft?
Cliff Matthews : ARDI is the only company that provides Macintosh binary compatibility without requiring software from Apple. That may not be worth billions of dollars, but I believe it's worth millions of dollars. That's the point -- there was no chance that we'd get access to the source to Word, so instead, without any help from Microsoft, we made Word run *without* the source. That's why ROMlib is a source-compatible product and Executor is a binary-compatible product.
sardaukar_siet : How did you react when the IBM-compatibles began having GUIs too? Was ARDI ever threatened by this fact?
Cliff Matthews : Threatened? No, but it did mean that our original product, \"ROMlib\" was less viable. In fact, the tech support costs of ROMlib pushed us in the direction of Executor anyway.
sardaukar_siet : Were you always alone? or was there a \"team\" of developers all along?
Cliff Matthews : I started alone, but started hiring in 1988 or 1989. We've had a variety of other people work for us, both as employees and as contractors. Currently I'm the only one working as a programming employee, but Deirdre also works full-time here.
MeanE : Any idea when the next major revision of Executor is coming out?
Cliff Matthews : We might get 2.1pr6 out later this week.
MeanE : Any new features?
Cliff Matthews : 2.1pr6 should include the last technical changes to Executor before 2.1 final is out. There aren't many new features, although we did revise the way we handle foreign keyboards. Some of the modifications allow us to use SDL 1.0, which is coming out now, too.
sardaukar_siet : What about PowerPC emulation?
Cliff Matthews : In the near future, you won't see anything. But we'll be working on releasing Executor/Linux/PPC before too long. I don't have a timeline that I can share. Much of what we do is covered by non-disclosure agreements.
Cliff Matthews : One thing you may have noticed is that some maverick computer makers are starting to build PPC-based computers for the purpose of running Linux on them.
Cliff Matthews : PPC-based Macs come with ROMs and an Apple OS, so they could be good targets for \"Sheepshaver\", but the new machines won't have all that Apple software.
sardaukar_siet : When PPC emulation comes out, will ARDI join the open source wave going on and release the m68k emulation core?
Cliff Matthews : Unlikely, but I guess it's possible.
sardaukar_siet : I get the impression that if there's only you working full time programming, Executor will have few updates during 2000.
Cliff Matthews : I think that's a reasonable statement, but I don't think I'll be the only one programming full time here for much longer.
sardaukar_siet : What other platforms would you like or are planning to emulate?
Cliff Matthews : In the long run our business plan does have us doing non-Mac related emulation and reverse engineering, but in the short run we'll be doing first the port to PowerPC, then PowerPC emulation. ROMlib is already very portable and Executor is largely portable. Syn68k comes in two flavours, a portable one and an x86 code-generating one. So *most* of what we do is portable, so supporting another processor (Alpha, Elbrus, etc.) isn't too hard.
sardaukar_siet : Do you know what Darwin OS is?
Cliff Matthews : More or less, yes, I know about Darwin.
sardaukar_siet : What do you think Apple is trying to pull with it?
Cliff Matthews : I think they're trying to leverage Open Source development -- free coders always sounds like a great idea. I think they realize that they lose by not being on top of Linux, (lose as in they don't get the massive free help that the Linux kernel gets) so they have little to lose by opening up the lowest level of their OS to other free software developers.
sardaukar_siet : Don't you think they'll pull the plug on it if it gets too big? as most free developers feel that it's a waste of time?
Cliff Matthews : I think Apple has a long history of reversed decisions. That has made it a little hard on us (and anyone else who has had to deal with Apple [or NeXT]). There are reasons why Darwin's availability may be helpful to us (HFS+ implementation, for example), but in general I think Darwin is a non-issue. Netscape had to work REAL HARD to get Mozilla as far as it is, and even Mozilla is seen as lagging by many. And there's a lot of reason why Mozilla would be much more interesting to developers than Darwin.
sardaukar_siet : But I'm saying that they intended from the beginning to pull the plug as soon as it gets too big (alternative to MacOS, for example) which inhibits serious development.
Cliff Matthews : I don't see Darwin as being a competitor to MacOS. Apple's smarter than that. They realize that Linux is out there and that they can't stop it. Apple's in a tricky situation. They are doing well on iMac sales, but their successor, Mac OS X, hasn't been particularly well received. If they don't come up with another \"big thing\", they'll get nibbled to death again.
MeanE : Is Executor the only thing you work on? Do you generate enough business to live off making it?
Cliff Matthews : Executor and \"Carbonless Copies\" are ARDI's two shipping products. Yes, I make enough money to live off it, although most money stays in ARDI. I take very little of it out currently.
MeanE : Do you prefer running your own business to having a \"normal\" job?
Cliff Matthews : Hard to say. My \"normal\" jobs in the past all paid very well and gave me a lot of flexibility. On the other hand, I own a significant fraction of ARDI, so if ARDI is worth some good money, I've done well.