In 1998 Steve Jobs was the interim CEO of Apple and trying to keep his unprofitable company from sinking into bankruptcy. Just the previous year, when asked what he would do if he were in charge of Apple, Dell CEO Michael Dell said, “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
The Mac had single digit marketshare. Creating a development tool, independently of Apple or any company that makes a platform such a tool would support, was considered a fool’s errand. There were plenty of tools available from large companies. Apple made MPW (the Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop). Symantec created THINK C. Metrowerks developed CodeWarrior. IBM’s VisualAge. Macromedia Flash. If you needed to create a cross-platform desktop app, you’d be told to look no further than SUN Microsystems Java: THE cross-platform language. We were all promised that Java was going to run on everything from our computers to our cars to our can openers. Java was the safe and popular choice. Developers made up only about 5% of computer users anyway. Honestly, who would be crazy enough to launch a new development tool in a market crowded by giants?