90s Apple Computer Finally Runs Unsigned Code

Back in the 90s, the console wars were in full swing. Nintendo vs Sega was an epic showdown at first, but when Nintendo seemed sure to clench the victory Sony came out of nowhere with the PlayStation. While these were the most popular consoles at the time, there were a few others around that are largely forgotten by history even if they were revolutionary in some ways. An example is the Pippin, a console made by Apple, which until now has been unable to run any software not signed by Apple.

The Pippin was Apple’s only foray into gaming consoles, but it did much more than that and included a primitive social networking system as well as the ability to run Apple’s Macintosh operating system. The idea was to be a full media center of sorts, and the software that it would run would be loaded from the CD-ROM at each boot. [Blitter] has finally cracked this computer, allowing it to run custom software, by creating an authentication file which is placed on the CD to tell the Pippin that it is “approved” by Apple.

The build log goes into incredible detail on the way these machines operated, and if you have a Pippin still sitting around it might be time to grab it out of the box and start customizing it in the way you probably always wanted to. For those interested in other obscure Apple products, take a look at this build which brings modern WiFi to the Apple Newton, their early PDA.

Thanks to [Jens] for the tip!

12 thoughts on “90s Apple Computer Finally Runs Unsigned Code

    1. More than “went with” Panasonic, Nintendo screwed Sony over: Sony discovered Nintendo was severing their partnership with them and switching to Panasonic only when Nintendo publicly announced it. The day after Sony had unveiled the Play Station (nee Super Disk nee SNES CD).
      Didn’t work out too well for Nintendo.

      1. I believe both of you are mistaking Panasonic for Philips.

        Philips was the company that originally developed the CD-i platform, and the company with which Nintendo struck a licensing deal, resulting in the execrable three Zelda games plus Hotel Mario.

        Panasonic was a licensed manufacturer of 3DO players, which was another “also-ran” CD-based multimedia console from the early 90’s.

      2. Philips, not Panasonic. And your timeline’s not *quite* right.

        It’s common to say that Nintendo “betrayed” Sony, but that’s not really fair, because really, Nintendo betrayed Sony before Sony had a chance to do it to Nintendo. The original contract that Nintendo agreed to would’ve been horrendous for them – I’m pretty sure they only did it because they figured Sony didn’t have much interest in a games console and was just interested in a “home media” version while Nintendo would still be the “game” side.

        After all, after the Philips debacle Sony went to Sega, who eventually nixed the idea because, well, Sony wasn’t a game company.

        Except there were plenty of rumors and hints that Kutaragi *totally did* want to be in the game console business, and the way the Nintendo contract was written Sony would’ve had the rights to every “Super Disc” title. If the “SNES CD” had been successful in the end Sony would’ve almost certainly just ended up being able to marginalize Nintendo entirely (and likely would’ve ended up just buying them or something).

        Nintendo announced the Philips partnership at ’91 CES, and Sony did discovery it beforehand (not when it was publicly announced), albeit only two days before. But that’s not actually when they *severed* the contract – Nintendo basically announced the Philips deal as a force to get Sony to renegotiate the contract. Which they did start doing. They didn’t sever the contract until ’92, when it was clear they weren’t going to meet.

        Saying it “didn’t work out too well for Nintendo” is unfair – Nintendo’s still around and making extremely successful hardware, and they almost certainly wouldn’t be if they had stuck with that contract.

        Honestly I’d have to say that on balance, Sony screwed Nintendo more than the other way around. They got the benefit of working with the dominant player in the video game market for several years and then got to go off and make a console with that experience with Nintendo having no rights to it whatsoever. The only way you could say “Nintendo screwed Sony” is if you think Sony *wasn’t* going to screw Nintendo over if “CD format games” became popular (which… they did).

        1. Sony also screwed over SEGA by ensuring they had the trade show spot just after SEGA. The SEGA guy did his presentation for the Dreamcast, ending with the price. Sony’s guy gets up next and leads with a price $100 less than the Dreamcast.

          SEGA had made sure to not make any of the mistakes they had done with the Saturn, and still got hacked down before they’d barely got started. ‘Course Sony could afford to price their console at whatever $ they wanted because of all their other profitable products to absorb the loss per unit. The profit was in the games.

          SEGA was low on funds after their Saturn failure that came after they shot themselves in the foot with their whole mess with their previous consoles and all the peripherals. They should have gone with their American division’s idea of one console with everything and dropped the separate 32x, CD etc mess. Too many products, too much confusion, too many finicky connections that would intermittently crash the game. With Saturn they didn’t have the devkits ready at launch. They didn’t insist that game companies had to use ALL the power of the console. Many games only used half of it.

          All those prior stumbles left SEGA unable to afford to make Dreamcast also be a DVD player, so they sunk a ton of money into developing the Gigabyte Disc ROM for it.

          Then after all that, they made the WTF! announcement that Dreamcast would be their last console. Goodbye Dreamcast.

          1. Beyond the issues that rasz_pl brings up, you’re completely overlooking the fact that as much as people have this bizarre set of rose-tinted glasses for the Dreamcast, it just wasn’t that powerful compared to the generation of consoles that came out literally a year or two afterward.

            It was the first “next-gen” console to market, but with the performance gains that were still being seen year-over-year at the time, the two years between the Dreamcast and the PS2 (then GameCube, then Xbox) made for a pretty wide performance gap.

            Like it or not, third-party developers were stuck in the unenviable position of having to either backport their titles to the Dreamcast while making incisive cuts to both content and features in order to make them fit, or to simply give up on it given its already-dwindling market share by the time the PS2/GCN/XB trio hit the market.

            Developers made the right call – it’s a business, not a charity – and “gamers” have been bemoaning every possible external factor under the sun for the past two decades in order to avoid the simple conclusion that Sega made poor business decisions, and it cost them.

        2. Lets not forget Philips using Baer patent (main claim being: “all video consoles LOL”) to sue the shit out of everyone at the time. Apparently Mario and Zelda on CD-I was the result of settlement in nintend-philips patent dispute.

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