Computer History Museum's Oral History Collection: Richard Williamson & Ken Kocienda

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Richard Williamson great up in Stafford, England, and moved to Arizona at age 11, when his father moved to the Honeywell mainframe factory in Phoenix. While at Swarthmore College studying the philosophy of language, he met Steve Jobs and joined NeXT, working on the Digital Librarian, the NeXT laser printer, and after graduation, the abortive NeXT RISC Workstation project, the AppKit and Foundation frameworks, the end-user environment and applications that shipped with NeXTSTEP. After leaving NeXT in 1994, Williamson co-founded InfoScape, which developed development tools for Java, and then worked as CTO at Resonate, a company which focused on internet server load balancing, before joining Apple. 
Ken Kocienda grew up on Long Island, New York in a Polish family, studied art history at Yale, pursued an MFA in fine art photography, and then discovered the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, and spent a number of years creating websites and writing Java, before joining Andy Herzfeld’s startup Eazel. After Eazel’s demise, Kocienda was one of a number of Eazel employees that joined Apple. 
In June of 2001, a few months after the initial version of Mac OS X 10.0 ships, Scott Forstall asked Don Melton to start the Safari/WebKit project to build a web browser and web framework for Apple. Melton hired Kocienda and Williamson, and the three of them built the initial version of Safari/WebKit from the open source Konqueror/KHTML project, after researching various open source options, including Mozilla, which was rejected due to its overly large and complicated codebase. Williamson wrote the initial OS X port of KHTML as a proof of concept in a few days, which convinced the team that it was the right choice. WebKit made it possible not only for Apple to ship the Safari browser, but also to embed web pages inside other applications as web views, as well as to create standalone apps using Web interfaces, which lead to the creation of Dashboard widgets. In a subsequent release of OS X, Kocienda added HTML text editing in WebKit to support editing rich text messages in Apple Mail using HTML. 
After several years of work on Safari, Williamson and Kocienda were recruited to join the iPhone team to work on WebKit and Safari for the iPhone. Again, the two of them were the initial engineers on the team, with Williamson eventually becoming the manager as the team grew. Williamson was a crucial voice in pushing the vision of the iPhone as a web browsing device. Beyond Safari, however, WebKit was important on the iPhone because it was used for all text display and input in iPhone 1.0, even in native applications. WebKit was also considered a contender as the API for all application development, in a way similar to Dashboard Widgets on OS X, until the decision was made to create the native UIKit framework, for reasons of internal developer productivity. The iPhone software team became divided organizationally between Williamson’s web team, which owned not only WebKit and the Safari browser but also apps implemented in WebKit, and Nitin Ganatra’s native applications team, which owned UIKit and native apps, such as Mail, that were implemented using UIKit, though there was collaboration throughout. Kocienda won an internal contest to design a workable software keyboard for the iPhone and became the engineer responsible for the keyboard for many years. Williamson’s team also built the original Maps and YouTube apps for the iPhone, implementing the native client applications in collaboration with Google’s server-side platforms and data. 
* Note: Transcripts represent what was said in the interview. However, to enhance meaning or add clarification, interviewees have the opportunity to modify this text afterwards. This may result in discrepancies between the transcript text and the video recording. Please see the transcript for further information: 
Visit for more information about the Computer History Museum's Oral History Collection. 
Catalog Number: 102740224
Lot Number: X8367.2018

Ken Kocienda has recently released a book about his days working for Apple:

Creative Selection:
Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date: 2018-IX-4
Language: English
Number of pages: 304
Size: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
ISBN-10: 1250194466
ISBN-13: 978-1250194466

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BLUEPRINT | Todd McFarlane

Published on June 24, 2017

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Todd McFarlane opens up about his career as a comic book artist that includes making Spider-Man cooler and creating the Spawn character. He also shares his blueprint to launching Image Comics and McFarlane Toys.  
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