Monday, February 5, 2024

Tom Dowdy and SimpleText

Mike Piontek:

I was looking at this [SimpleText document] icon for inspiration and now I’m wondering what the name of the newspaper is meant to be. pnop? 🤔 I like that the front page photo is a screenshot of a desktop.

John Calhoun (via Cabel Sasser):

Tom Dowdy was a software engineer at Apple back in 1995 when I was still writing Macintosh games in Lawrence, Kansas. One of Tom’s programming responsibilities was to maintain Apple’s SimpleText (aka TeachText) application (see document icon above) — a basic text editor that shipped with the Macintosh. He was also the tech-lead (engineering technical leader) for the graphics component of Apple’s newest graphics framework called Quickdraw GX.


But for all the stress and feeling like I was a fake among all these super-star programmers, Tom Dowdy always put me at ease. I’m not sure why. Anyone that knew him though would agree with me when I say that he was laid back and had a friendly demeanor.


It was the supposed “dark times” to be at Apple: whole teams would be suddenly let go (the rest of us that lingered still might go through the abandoned offices of once co-workers looking to pull RAM out of their hardware for our own development machines). Some engineers like Tom, could see the writing on the wall early enough and knew when to switch teams. Tom ended up moving to the QuickTime team where he was able to continue to use his graphics talents. Later he worked on the iTunes visualizer if I recall correctly.


SimpleText had been one of Tom’s responsibilities even before Steve Jobs had returned [and frowned on Easter eggs].

It turns out that the top of the newspaper icon has “Dowdy” written upside down and backwards.


Update (2024-02-07): See also: Hacker News.

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