Ben Rosen - Compaq CEO

Mac OS Nearly Landed On Compaq Computers In the 90s [Report]

If Compaq had their way in 1999 at least some of their computers would have been installed with the Mac operating system. According to interim Compaq CEO Ben Rosen the company spoke with Steve Jobs in the middle of 1999 and while they would have liked to see the system installed on some systems. The deal would have come during the middle of the Microsoft anti-trust fiasco but its computer systems ultimately didn’t provide what Apple required.

The biggest issue was the lack of control Apple would have had over the computers that would have sported the Mac OS. Apple feared that their tight hardware and software integration would have been put in jeopardy had Compaq controlled any licensing agreement.s

Compaq entertained the notion of the Mac OS system at a time when Microsoft was demanding that computer manufacturers pay them a royalty on every computer sold, even if the Windows OS was not installed on the computer at the time of sale.

According to Electronista:

While it’s commonplace for executives from different companies to explore ideas that don’t go further than initial concepts, the talk itself is surprising as it contradicts the business model that many credited with saving Apple. Shortly after coming back as interim CEO in 1997, Jobs axed Mac clones as they weren’t gaining market share and were killing sales of Apple’s costlier but still vital hardware. A narrow selection of hardware and software was key to the iMac. Letting Compaq have access might have boosted Apple’s recognition but would also have created uncertainty in the hardware and possibly repeated Apple’s troubles from the mid-1990s.

In the meantime Apple is now the largest technology provider in the world and HP may soon be exiting the personal computing market after slumping sales and an increase in mobile phone technologies. As for Rosen? He’s the CEO of Compaq and has been using a Mac since 2007.