Apple to Spark FireWire Dev with Buyout

The company's purchase of Zayante strengthens the Mac maker's engineering ties to the IEEE interface it pioneered.

Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday forged a new connection to FireWire when it acquired Zayante Inc., a company focused on developing components based on the connectivity protocol.

While Apple declined to provide details of the deal or specify how many Zayante employees will remain on board, spokeswoman Natalie Sequeira said that Zayante President and CEO Prashant Kanhere as well as "key members of the engineering team" will join the Cupertino, Calif., company to promote and develop FireWire technology.

Zayante will fold its Scotts Valley, Calif., headquarters, Sequeira said, and the former Zayante staffers will work on the Apple campus as part of the team headed by Jon Rubinstein, Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering.

Apples buyout of Zayante brings back into the Mac fold several engineers who helped Apple create FireWire--a high-speed serial IO standard also known as IEEE 1394.

"By acquiring Zayante, Apple is extending its commitment to FireWire as the premiere, high-speed digital interface solution," Rubinstein said in a statement. "FireWire is the best technology to connect digital devices that need to transfer lots of data quickly, such as transferring an entire CD from your Mac to your iPod in less than a second."

All current Mac models, the consumer iMac and iBook and the professional Power Mac and PowerBook, feature FireWire interfaces.

The Apple acquisition marks a homecoming of sorts for several key employees of Zayante, which was founded in 1996 and provides IEEE 1394-compliant firm- and software to manufacturers of consumer and computing devices as well as semiconductors. Zayante co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Michael Johas Teener worked at Apple from 1988 to 1996, where he was FireWires chief architect; Senior Systems Engineer Jay Hamlin worked on Apples short-lived Pippin media player and wrote and demonstrated the first isochronous streaming video application, according to Zayante.

The Zayante purchase is the latest in a string of acquisitions for Apple. Most notably, the company in December 1996 purchased NeXT Software Inc. for $400 million, a move that garnered the OpenStep OS that formed the core of Mac OS X and brought Steve Jobs back to the company he founded.

More-recent Apple buyouts include PowerSchool, a provider of Web-based student information systems; Macromedia Inc.s video-editing operation DVD authoring software and underlying technology from Astarte GmbH; graphics accelerator company Raycer Graphics; and the assets of ill-starred Mac cloner Power Computing Inc. In February, Apple purchased Nothing Real, developer of Shake, a video-compositing application.