AIM alliance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The AIM alliance was formed on October 2, 1991, between Apple Inc. (then Apple Computer), IBM, and Motorola to create a new computing standard based on the PowerPC architecture.


Phil Hester, a designer of the IBM RS/6000, convinced IBM's president Jack Kuehler of the necessity of a business alliance.[1][2] In 1991, a historic alliance was formed between Apple and IBM with the stated goal of creating a single unifying open-standard computing platform for the whole industry, made of a new hardware design and a next-generation operating system. This would also directly challenge the dominant Wintel duopoly.

In 1992, Apple and IBM created two new companies called Taligent and Kaleida Labs as part of the alliance. Taligent was formed from a core team of Apple software engineers to create a next-generation operating system, code-named "Pink", to run on the platform. Kaleida was to create an object-oriented, cross-platform multimedia scripting language which would enable developers to create entirely new kinds of applications that would harness the power of the platform. IBM provided affinity between Workplace OS and Taligent—replacing Taligent's microkernel with the IBM Microkernel and adopting Taligent's CommonPoint application framework for Workplace OS, OS/2, and AIX.

It's natural that many people saw Apple's alliance with former adversary IBM Corp. as an ominous portent for the independent future of the Macintosh. The sight of Apple and IBM chief executives gripping and grinning on national television wasn't nearly as confusing as their vow to bring the Mac and IBM desktop computers into the 21st century with shared technology such as PowerPC chips, PowerOpen Unix, and new operating software from Taligent Inc. and Kaleida Labs Inc. Present and future shock aside, that's a lot to digest.

— MacWeek[3]

It was thought that the CISC processors from Intel[citation needed] were an evolutionary dead-end in microprocessor design,[citation needed] and that since RISC was the future, the next few years were a period of great opportunity.

The CPUs are the PowerPC processors, the first of which, the PowerPC 601, is a single-chip version of IBM's POWER1 CPU. Both IBM and Motorola would manufacture PowerPC integrated circuits for this new platform. The computer architecture base was called "PReP" (PowerPC Reference Platform), and later complemented with OpenFirmware and renamed "CHRP" (Common Hardware Reference Platform). IBM used PReP and CHRP for PCI version of IBM's RS/6000 platform, from existing Micro Channel architecture models, and changed only to support the new 60x bus style of the PowerPC.[4]

The development of the PowerPC is centered at an Austin, Texas, facility called the Somerset Design Center. The building is named after the site in Arthurian legend where warring forces put aside their swords, and members of the three teams that staff the building say the spirit that inspired the name has been a key factor in the project's success thus far.

— MacWeek[3]

Part of the culture here is not to have an IBM or Motorola or Apple culture, but to have our own.

— Motorola's Russell Stanphill, codirector of Somerset[3]

Efforts on the part of Motorola and IBM to popularize PReP/CHRP failed when Apple, IBM, and Taligent all failed to provide an operating system that could run on it and when Apple and IBM couldn't reach agreement on whether the reference design must or must not have a parallel port.[citation needed] Although the platform was eventually supported by several Unix variants as well as Windows NT and Workplace OS (in the form of OS/2), these operating systems generally ran just as well on Intel-based hardware so there was little reason to use the PReP systems. The BeBox, designed to run BeOS, used some PReP hardware but as a whole was not compatible with the standard. Kaleida folded in 1995. Taligent was absorbed into IBM in 1998. Some CHRP machines shipped in 1997 and 1998 without widespread reception.


The PowerPC program is the one success that came out of the AIM alliance; Apple started using PowerPC chips in the Macintosh line starting in 1994. Almost every Mac featured a PowerPC processor from then until 2006, when the company transitioned entirely to Intel CPUs, due to eventual disappointment with the direction and performance of PowerPC development as of the G5 model. PowerPC also has had success in the embedded market, and three major seventh-generation video game consoles, Gamecube, Wii, and the Wii U feature chipsets derived from the PowerPC architecture at their core. was founded in 2004 by IBM and fifteen partners with intent to develop, enable, promote, and drive adoption of Power Architecture technology, such as PowerPC and POWER and applications based on them. Freescale joined in 2006 and today the consortium consists of over forty companies and institutions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steve Lohr (May 23, 1993). "In Pursuit of Computing's Holy Grail". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  2. ^ John Markoff (September 14, 1994). "Computing's Bold Alliance Falters". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Forces Gather for PowerPC Roundtable". MacWeek. 7 (12). March 22, 1993. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  4. ^ "POWER to the people". Archived from the original on 2008-05-16.