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The Turkey Drumstick

That’s not a turkey drumstick! That’s the cover of my book!

I never thought I’d be thanking Apple product marketing for something related to my book on programming Quartz graphics. Without their “help”, the book Programming with Quartz that I wrote with Bunny Laden would have been published without our names as authors. Instead it would have listed “Apple” as the author. But thanks to a cranky person in Apple product marketing, our names are there instead.

From the very beginning of the book project there was no question: our names would never be on the book. Apple had a firm policy, instituted by Steve Jobs when he returned as iCEO, that no individual names would be on Apple products, including any Apple publications. The author of our book would be “Apple” and our names would not appear in any form. There would be author bios on the back of the book but they would omit our names.

I should mention that our publisher, Morgan Kaufmann, had already done a number of books with Apple. They hated the fact that these books were published with “Apple” as the author and that the true author names were not known. To them it was extremely valuable to have real people’s names on their publications. But they wanted to do business with Apple and those were the terms.

Writing this book was my crazy idea, I started it with this understanding, and I had absolutely no problem with not having my name on it. I was writing this book for software developers use, not for personal glory. I was (and still am) passionate about the fact that 3rd party developers need good introductory and reference documentation and I was determined to do what I could to help provide that.

While our names weren’t going to be on the book, late in the project I had an idea how we could have an easter egg in the book so that we weren’t totally anonymous. After all, this was a book about graphics! In the chapter “Image Masking” there was a code sample and accompanying graphic that showed how to draw color through 1-bit image masks using Quartz. We needed images for the graphic so I thought we might take the opportunity to sneak us in.  


By October 2005 we had finished the process of writing the book, dealing with copy- and proof-reading edits, processing the graphics, struggling with image rights issues, and handling a great many other details related to the book. The book was ready. The only thing remaining was to get final approval of the book’s cover from product marketing. Proposals for that artwork had been created by the publisher and the final selection had been made with the help of talented artists in Apple publications. This final approval seemed like a formality.

But then came the email message:

From: xxx <xxx@apple.com>
Date: October 12, 2005, 6:56:52 AM PDT
To: David Gelphman <gelphman@apple.com>
Cc: “<various@apple.com>”
Subject: Re: Need Approval for Front Cover of Morgan Kaufmann Book…

I can’t really tell what image is being used on the cover (blured drum stick?), but I don’t think this cover is really up to our standards. Is there someone in GD who can take a look and help out here?

No, that was not a “blured drum stick”, it was a crystal, a Quartz crystal. None of us could see the “blured drumstick”, even after drinking heavily (not really), taking massive quantities of drugs (not really), and more squinting than we thought possible (really). After we got this email everyone involved jokingly referred to the graphic on the cover as the “turkey drumstick”.

This helpful fellow high up in product marketing caused everything to come to a screeching halt. Of course we had been working with someone in GD (Graphic Design) and they were on board with the proposed cover. But this one person in product marketing was saying that this book had Apple’s name on it which made it an Apple product and in their opinion the cover reflected poorly on Apple.

At this point the publisher pushed back like crazy. They had a schedule for the book to be published and everything was ready. But now there was a huge roadblock that was holding things up. This was their design, so obviously they were happy with it. This was all an Apple problem. Should the design of the cover be done from scratch? How long was it going to take before “Apple” was happy with a new design? They had had plenty of previous experience with the lengthy process of getting things done with Apple.

Ultimately the proposed solution was to remove “Apple” as the author of the book and have the real author’s names appear. This would make product marketing happy since the book would no longer be an “Apple” product. The publisher was thrilled about this possible outcome. They definitely wanted our names on the book.

I don’t know for certain but I believe that Bertrand Serlet was the one to propose this solution to Steve Jobs. Amazingly Steve agreed to OK a one time exception to the Apple policy. (I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that meeting!) The crisis was over and the book was published soon after.

Of course I was ecstatic about the result. It was totally unexpected and, as you can imagine, quite satisfying. I was extremely proud of the work I’d done on the book and was thrilled to have my name with Bunny’s on the cover. I still feel that way today, almost 9 years later.

And one more thing: Thanks again Rich.




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Today it was announced that the Macworld print magazine is being discontinued and virtually all of the editorial staff is being let go. Even though I don’t personally know any of the people being laid off, other than a tiny amount through Twitter, I’m quite sad for them and for the magazine. And there is something personal about it for me also.

When the Mac was introduced in 1984, my life veered from a life studying physics and went into a totally different direction. (I wrote about this previously in some detail in my post 30 Years of Macintosh.) For young people in todays world it is almost impossible to imagine how we learned about this radical new computer. There was no internet as we know it today. No World Wide Web, no Twitter, no online blogs, no RSS feeds of news stories.

The way most of us found out information about the Macintosh was through the monthly publication Macworld. I remember eagerly awaiting each new issue. It was filled with tons of information that wasn’t available anywhere else. In the early days I read every word of every issue the same day it arrived. Every word. And the Macworld conferences were must attend shows and continued to be for more than 20 years. (I still get excited thinking about that Levco 68020 board that you could put in a Mac.)

I still have two issues from the early magazine. These issues made a difference in my life. I’ve kept them for 30 years and I’ll keep them for 30 more. Macworld ceasing publication seems personal. My heart goes out to those who’ve lost their jobs. And for the Apple community that has lost an old friend.