1991: Apple’s Blueprint for Disaster

Today I am releasing another historic Apple document from my archives, “Blueprint for the Decade, An overview of Apple technology and strategies.” Download it here as a 19Mb PDF.

This strategic briefing was published in October 1991, six years after John Sculley ousted Steve Jobs. This is the business plan that brought Apple to the brink of disaster, only to be saved by Steve Jobs returning in 2001. It certainly was the Blueprint for the Decade, it just wasn’t the kind of decade Sculley wanted.


Eicher – Myers Family Cookbook

Everyone in my family, even my aunts and cousins, wants this Eicher – Myers Family Cookbook. I inherited it from my Mother, I think it is her handwriting. It appears to be from around 1955, so it could be her mother’s cookbook. This does not appear to be The Family Cookbook, it is a family cookbook. It’s mostly dessert recipes.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Since everyone wants a copy, I photographed the entire book and I am presenting it here as a huge 144Mb PDF file. I took these photos with my iPhone 6s 12-megapixel camera, using studio grade lighting and photography equipment.

The recipes are handwritten in cursive, in an address book with tabs from A to Z. There are gaps of dozens of blank pages, which I have not digitized. Recipes are scattered throughout the book, some seem placed at random. But there is a vague scheme here: B for bread; C for corn, cakes and cookies; D for dumplings and oops we need more pages for cakes and cookies; M for meat and muffins; P for Pie and pudding; S for salad, sauce, and shortcakes; and W for walnuts. You can easily see which are the favorite recipes, by the stained pages.

Tucked in between some pages are recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines, brochures, etc. I have tried to preserve this ephemera as I found it, in the order I found it. I carefully unfolded the clippings and put them under glass to keep them flat. You can hardly tell they have been folded for 60 years. I photographed the back sides of these items too. Some were fascinating, like this crudely printed color advertisement for quilt patterns.


I was particularly amused by a lard pamphlet. Apron-clad women are marching in the streets carrying signs declaring their love for lard.


I am considering donating the original manuscript cookbook to the University of Iowa Libraries’ Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts collection. The Library is digitizing dozens of historic cookbooks. I contacted them and they expressed interest in acquiring this and other cookbooks from my Mother’s collection. Perhaps it would be fairest to all my family that everyone has digitized copies of the book but none of us possess it, the original is in a library. But I didn’t want to let this cookbook out of my hands without making a copy for myself and my family first.

The Last Stat Cam

In the late 1980s, the digital graphics studio where I worked in LA did an incredible thing: they bought a stat cam. I thought it was the last thing we needed, we were an all-digital studio, we had high end drum scanners and Agfa imagesetters. Stat cams were such a pain to use, that’s why everyone was switching to digital. So I wondered why the boss wanted such an expensive but obsolete device like this. Our company never bought anything but the high end machines. Even today, a used top-end Agfa Repromaster stat camera can cost thousands of dollars. I found this picture on a University surplus auction site, starting bid $50. What a deal.

Agfa Repromaster

Static Cameras were the standard for graphic arts production for decades. Designers would paste their graphics and type onto a white paper sheet; the stat cam would photograph it and convert it to a film used to make printing plates. The films could be as large as two newspaper sheets, the typical paper size of high speed printing presses. I’ve done some amazing things on stat cams, even back in the early 1970s.

The boss said he bought the camera for the old-school printing guys we hired. They assured him they had clients with enough stat cam work to pay for it in mere months. I didn’t see how that was possible. Studios that ran stat cams were going out of business because they were losing their customers (and employees) to digital production companies like us. There were thousands of graphics studios with stat cams that were desperate for work. The Repromaster reached the pinnacle of analog film production just as the analog process became obsolete. The lenses were superb, the quality of the films it produced were perfect. Faster and more elaborate electronic controls would be useless. This was the last stat camera anyone would ever need. We didn’t even need one. We never had one single customer for the stat cam. Agfa stopped making the Repromaster years ago. They are antiques, today you can find them in the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies.

Stat cams were designed for only one job, to make perfect film reproductions of flat artwork. If you wanted to do this job today, you would use a digital camera on a copy stand. I just built one, almost by accident. But I will write about that in my next post.

iPhone 6s Shoots Beautiful Panoramas

The iPhone 6s takes wonderful panoramic photographs even under challenging light conditions. The files are huge, suitable for high res inkjet printing at very large sizes. The bottom panorama could be printed 45×12 inches at maximum quality and would probably look pretty good at double that size. It has good dynamic range, even shooting into the sun at sunset. I particularly like the camera’s sensitivity to subtle gradients, like the murky, translucent water giving way to reflections of the sky. These photos are completely unretouched other than cropping. I tried hard to improve the brightness of these scenes and I decided the original images could not be improved.





Click an image to see a higher resolution. Original photos and content © 2015 Charles Eicher

Snowstorm JavaScript Considered Harmful

Every winter, some websites run snowstorm.js as decoration. Yes, it is a festive and cheery thing. It used to be fun back when we all had tiny 1024×780 screens. But now I have a huge, high rez screen, and my computer will try to render all the snowflakes. Some people set the snowstorm to high intensity, it makes my computer overheat and the cooling fans run at high speed. Some people run the white snow over a white background with black text. The only way you can tell snowstorm.js is running is to watch random pixels of the text wink on and off, as the snowflakes drift past. It makes the text illegible.

Please stop using snowstorm.js.

Employee Appreciation

I recently finished a temp job, during the final week the managers arranged an Employee Appreciation Lunch of expensive pizza and cupcakes. I grumbled that if the company really wanted to express its appreciation, they could skip the free lunch and pay me higher wages so I could buy my own lunch. I am sure my ingracious comments were not appreciated by management.

The artisanal cupcakes were beautiful. I mentioned how much I like vanilla, and a coworker said, “We have Double Vanilla!” But it was too rich for lunch, so I kept it at my desk and saved it for later.

When I prepared to leave work, I realized it would be tricky to transport the cupcake home without mashing it or getting frosting all over my car. One of the managers said, “The cupcakes fit perfectly in our big paper coffee cups.” I said, “Oh, I have a better idea.”

The way the cupcake paper was folded reminded me of the way we used to wrap potted plants in decorative foil, at our family greenhouse business. I can’t even guess how many hundreds, maybe thousands of chrysanthemums and poinsettias I have wrapped this way. We would fold and staple cardboard boxes and pad them with newspapers so the customers could transport them easily. So I grabbed a stapler and a leftover paper plate from the pizza, and made it into a box in just a few seconds.

Double Vanilla Cupcake

My manager saw me working and said, “That doesn’t seem better, it’s a lot more complex, with dozens of folds and staples.” I cushioned the cupcake with a few spare napkins and said, “It turned out better than I expected, it’s as beautiful as a flower, you should see it.” She looked and said, “You’re absolutely right, Charles, that is superior in every way.”


How to Write a Japanese Résumé (履歴書)

About 15 years ago, I published a document about how to write a résumé in Japanese, a 履歴書 (rirekisho). This small 1.7Mb PDF file contains a high resolution scan of blank resume forms, and detailed instructions in both English and Japanese for writing a résumé and a cover letter.

This document will require advanced level Japanese skills, and that is kind of the point. If you really need to write a good rirekisho, you are probably applying for a job that requires a high level of Japanese fluency, including the ability to write standardized business documents and correspondence.

Recently I discovered other websites are publishing this file, even selling it as an ebook. This document is the result of my semester-long project in my 5th-year Japanese language class. It contains short Fair Use excerpts from Japanese textbooks and business publications, so it seems especially unfair for other people to reproduce this work and charge money for it.

So I’m republishing it on my blog for free. Please do not pay money to download this file. You can get it for free right here.

Amish Cook Book

Here is a scan of a cookbook from my Mom’s collection. It is entitled “AMISH COOK BOOK of Recipes from Our Amish Neighbors” and was published by the Grace Methodist Church of Oelwein, Iowa, Woman’s Society of Christian Service. It is undated but I believe it was produced in the early 1970s.

This tiny 4.25 by 5.5 inch booklet has 112 pages and was produced on a script typewriter with hand drawn illustrations. Click on this link to download the booklet as a 68.7Mb PDF file.

Amish Cookbook Cover