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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sun And Apple Almost Merged Three Times

Sun Microsystems tried to acquire Apple once and then almost merged with Apple on two other occasions, according to Sun co-founder Bill Joy. Beyond these deals, the two companies almost teamed on three other projects including sharing a user interface and the SPARC architecture. The moves were cheered by Apple fan Joy, while Sun's CEO Scott McNealy appeared less impressed with some of the proposals.

All of this we learned tonight at a Computer History Museum event where Sun's four co-founders held the stage for close to two hours.

At one point during the discussion, questioner John Gage, a longtime Sun staffer, asked McNealy about Sun's "three attempts" to buy Apple. McNealy dodged the question.

Moments later, Joy – a Unix god and venture capitalist on the side – dragged the conversation back to Apple, seeming to want to make a confession.

Joy voiced an affinity for Apple's CEO Steve Jobs and said it was a "personal disappointment" that the two companies were never closer.

"There were six very close encounters," Joy said.

The first came when Sun, Apple and Microsoft were set to agree on a common filing protocol. "We had an agreement, but it fell through," Joy said, noting that Sun ended up going with NFS – a Joy invention.

Sun + Apple = Snapple?
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