Once upon a time, Apple made computers other than Macintoshes. We all know about the classic 6502-based Apple ][ series (and the wonderful IIgs), which for many years were manufactured simultaneously with the Macintosh until November 1993. But Apple was heavy on workstations and home computers and by the mid 1990s had no enterprise-class large systems; only the rebadged Mac OS-based Workgroup Servers, the Apple Workgroup Server 95 (with custom hardware for A/UX) and the oddball Workgroup Server 9150 composed the cadre of Apple "big iron." At their core they were just Macs with big-sounding monikers and token server software packages. And customers were not impressed.
So in 1992 the great Mind of Sculley decreed there should be another Apple computer that was not a Mac, to the extent that if the market moved away from the Mac, there would still be a rainbow Apple in it. And, after many false starts, in February 1996 Apple introduced the Apple Network Server line, utterly unlike anything Apple ever made. Apple didn't know how to market it. Customers didn't know what to do with it. Retailers didn't know how to sell it ($10,000!). Yet, for a time, it was as powerful as any IBM POWER server, infinitely better designed, and capable of unusual synergies with other Apple products that were never realized by anything else. And then Apple canned it in April 1997.
In 1998, I was a working stiff at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and the bookstore had an Apple Network Server 500/132 for their inventory system which the vendor wouldn't support anymore. It was pristine and barely used, and sat in a corner. They asked me if I wanted it for anything, and I thought it would be fun to play with, so I wiped it and started its new long life. stockholm served as my do-everything server for 14 years until I finally decommissioned it in 2012 for an IBM POWER6, but it still works today and has a place of honour in my machine room. It was never flawless, but it was dependable and fascinating and a machine deserving of more than a footnote in Cupertino's corporate history. This site, therefore, is my weak attempt at a memorial to the best enterprise-class machine Apple ever disowned.
Last updated 19 September 2014. Send me your comments at email@example.com.
The ANS FAQ
AIX on ANS FAQ
Everything you ever wanted to know, and probably some things you didn't, about the ANS' history and the unique Shiner architecture!
Plus: Quick tips and a basic guide to running its primary OS IBM AIX on it!
Server pr0n! That's what we're here for! Take those panels off! Take 'em all off!
Plus: The Shiner's designers!
Bonus: The Workgroup Server 9150!
Mac OS Services Page
The ANS' greatest unsung talent: an inventive AppleTalk RPC system allowing Mac OS clients unheard-of abilities.
Plus: download pre-built open source packages ready to go on your AIX Network Server!
Brags and Reviews
Don't take my word for it that this machine is awesome -- take
(Reprinted for historical preservation.)
Lunar Design Award |
MacUser Eddy '96 Award |
IDEA '97 Award |
MacUser 10/96 Review
plus: the original Apple corporate ANS web site
Other ANS Links
Erik.co.uk | EveryMac | Shrine of Apple | Steve Jobs and 20 Years of Apple Servers | Applefritter
Were you a Shiner designer? I'd really like to pick your brain.
Drop me a message or send me your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apple documentation, images and software remain the intellectual property of Apple, Inc.