Concept

Apple Open Collaboration Environment

Résumé
Apple Open Collaboration Environment (AOCE) is a collection of messaging-related technologies introduced for the Classic Mac OS in the early 1990s. It includes the PowerTalk mail engine, which is the primary client-side interface to the system, the PowerShare mail server for workgroup installations, and a number of additional technologies such as Open Directory, encryption, and digital signature support. AOCE and PowerTalk were heavily marketed between 1993 and 1996, but the hardware requirements meant that most users couldn't even install or use it. Developers were likewise stymied by the complex system, and since the installed base was so small their potential sales were even smaller. In 1996, Apple Computer quietly dropped its efforts to market AOCE, and the project quickly disappeared. Development of AOCE started in 1989, largely the "pet project" of Apple Fellow Gursharan Sidhu, formerly engineering lead at Apple for LaserWriter, AppleShare, and related networking products. The project started by taking a "20,000 foot overview" of existing mail systems, and trying to find common concepts and problems. Their key conclusion was that email systems were designed for the wrong purpose—to deliver email to people, when they should instead store and forward things to places. Compare this with the real-world postal service, which delivers not only mail, but magazines, packages, large parcels, and even (in one example) building materials to a worksite. The team also found other problems with existing email systems. They tended to support plain text mail only, and rarely supported non-English characters. Support for mobile users was poor, often relying on third party workarounds that were of dubious reliability. And they were all based on a dedicated email server that was typically complex to set up, and often excessive for small installations with only a few people in an office. Finally, none of the existing products could give the user what they really wanted: a single universal mailbox and a single universal address book.
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