Sculley was initially skeptical when he saw the storyboards, but Jobs insisted that they
needed something revolutionary. He was able to get an unprecedented budget of
$750,000 just to film the ad, which they planned to premiere during the Super Bowl.
Ridley Scott made it in London using dozens of real skinheads among the enthralled
masses listening to Big Brother on the screen. A female discus thrower was chosen to
play the heroine. Using a cold industrial setting dominated by metallic gray hues, Scott
evoked the dystopian aura of Blade Runner. Just at the moment when Big Brother announces
“We shall prevail!” the heroine’s hammer smashes the screen and it vaporizes
in a flash of light and smoke.
When Jobs previewed the ad for the Apple sales force at the meeting in Hawaii, they
were thrilled. So he screened it for the board at its December 1983 meeting. When the
lights came back on in the boardroom, everyone was mute. Philip Schlein, the CEO of
Macy’s California, had his head on the table. Mike Markkula stared silently; at first it
seemed he was overwhelmed by the power of the ad. Then he spoke: “Who wants to
move to find a new agency?” Sculley recalled, “Most of them thought it was the worst
commercial they had ever seen.” Sculley himself got cold feet. He asked Chiat/Day to
sell off the two commercial spots—one sixty seconds, the other
thirty—that they had purchased.
Jobs was beside himself. One evening Wozniak, who had been floating into and out of
Apple for the previous two years, wandered into the Macintosh building. Jobs grabbed
him and said, “Come over here and look at this.” He pulled out a VCR and played the ad.
“I was astounded,” Woz recalled. “I thought it was the most incredible thing.” When Jobs
said the board had decided not to run it during the Super Bowl, Wozniak asked what the
cost of the time slot was. Jobs told him $800,000. With his usual
offered, “Well, I’ll
pay half if you will.”
The “1984” AdIn the spring of 1983, when Jobs had begun to plan for the
Macintosh launch, he asked for a commercial that was as revolutionary and
astonishing as the product they had created. “I want something that will stop
people in their tracks,” he said. “I want a thunderclap.” The task fell to the Chiat/Day
advertising agency, which had acquired the Apple account when it bought the advertising
side of Regis McKenna’s business. The person put in charge was a lanky beach bum with
a bushy beard, wild hair, goofy grin, and twinkling eyes named Lee Clow, who was the
creative director of the agency’s office in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles. Clow
was savvy and fun, in a laid-back yet focused way, and he forged a bond
with Jobs that would last three decades.
Clow and two of his team, the copywriter Steve Hayden and the art director Brent Thomas,
had been toying with a tagline that played off the George Orwell novel: “Why 1984 won’t be like
1984.” Jobs loved it, and asked them to develop it for the Macintosh launch. So they put together
a storyboard for a sixty-second ad that would look like a scene from a sci-fi movie. It featured a
rebellious young woman outrunning the Orwellian thought police and throwing a
sledgehammer into a screen showing a mind-controlling speech by Big Brother.
The concept captured the zeitgeist of the personal computer revolution. Many young people,
especially those in the counterculture, had viewed computers as instruments that could be used by
Orwellian governments and giant corporations to sap individuality. But by the end of the 1970s,
they were also being seen as potential tools for personal empowerment. The ad cast Macintosh
as a warrior for the latter cause—a cool, rebellious, and heroic company that was the only thing
the way of the big evil
corporation’s plan for
and total mind control.
But what truly devastated Jobs was that he was not, after all,
chosen as the Man of the Year. As he later told me:
Time decided they were going to make me Man of the Year, and I was
twenty-seven, so I actually cared about stuff like that. I thought it was
pretty cool. They sent out Mike Moritz to write a story. We’re the same age,
and I had been very successful, and I could tell he was jealous and there was
an edge to him. He wrote this terrible hatchet job. So the editors in New
York get this story and say, “We can’t make this guy Man of the Year.” That really
hurt. But it was a good lesson. It taught me to never get too excited about things
like that, since the media is a circus anyway. They FedExed me the magazine, and
I remember opening the package, thoroughly expecting to see my mug on the cover,
and it was this computer sculpture thing. I thought, “Huh?” And then I read
the article, and it was so awful that I actually cried.
In fact there’s no reason to believe that Moritz was jealous or that he intended his
reporting to be unfair. Nor was Jobs ever slated to be Man of the Year, despite what
he thought. That year the top editors (I was then a junior editor there) decided early
on to go with the computer rather than a person, and they commissioned, months in
advance, a piece of art from the famous sculptor George Segal to be a gatefold cover image.
Ray Cave was then the magazine’s editor. “We never considered Jobs,” he said. “
You couldn’t personify the computer, so that was the first time we decided to go
with an inanimate object.
We never searched
around for a face to
be put on the cover.”
The candidate looked baffled. “What did you say?”
“Are you a virgin?” Jobs asked. The candidate sat there flustered, so Jobs changed the subject.
“How many times have you taken LSD?” Hertzfeld recalled, “The poor guy was turning
varying shades of red, so I tried to change the subject and asked a straightforward technical
question.” But when the candidate droned on in his response, Jobs broke in.
“Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,” he said, cracking up Smith and Hertzfeld.
“It reflects his personality, which is to want control,” said Berry Cash, who was hired by
Jobs in 1982 to be a market strategist at Texaco Towers. “Steve would talk about the Apple
II and complain, ‘We don’t have control, and look at all these crazy things people are trying
to do to it. That’s a mistake I’ll never make again.’” He went so far as to design special tools
so that the Macintosh case could not be opened with a regular screwdriver. “We’re going
to design this thing so nobody but Apple employees can get inside this box,” he told Cash.
Jobs also decided to eliminate the cursor arrow keys on the Macintosh keyboard. The only
way to move the cursor was to use the mouse. It was a way of forcing old-fashioned users
to adapt to point-and-click navigation, even if they didn’t want to. Unlike other product
developers, Jobs did not believe the customer was always right; if they wanted to resist
using a mouse, they were wrong.
There was one other advantage, he believed, to eliminating the cursor keys: It forced
outside software developers to write programs specially for the Mac operating system,
rather than merely writing generic software that could be ported to a variety of computers.
That made for the type of tight vertical integration
systems, and hardware
devices that Jobs liked.
Jobs’s desire to control the user experience had been at the heart of his debate with
Wozniak over whether the Apple II would have slots that allow a user to plug expansion
cards into a computer’s motherboard and thus add some new functionality. Wozniak won
that argument: The Apple II had eight slots. But this time around it would be Jobs’s machine, not
Wozniak’s, and the Macintosh would have limited slots. You wouldn’t even be able to open
the case and get to the motherboard. For a hobbyist or hacker, that was uncool. But for Jobs, the
Macintosh was for the masses. He wanted to give them a controlled experience.
a philosophical component, one that was related to his penchant for
control. He believed that for a computer to be truly great, its hardware
and its software had to be tightly linked. When a computer was open
to running software that also worked on other computers, it would end
up sacrificing some functionality. The best products, he believed, were
“whole widgets” that were designed end-to-end, with the software closely
tailored to the hardware and vice versa. This is what would distinguish the
Macintosh, which had an operating system that worked only on its own
hardware, from the environment that Microsoft was creating, in which its
operating system could be used on hardware made by many different companies.
“Jobs is a strong-willed, elitist artist who doesn’t want his creations mutated
inauspiciously by unworthy programmers,” explained ZDNet’s editor
Dan Farber. “It would be as if someone off the street added some
brush strokes to a Picasso painting or changed the lyrics to a Dylan song.”
In later years Jobs’s whole-widget approach would distinguish the iPhone,
iPod, and iPad from their competitors. It resulted in awesome products.
But it was not always the best strategy for dominating a market. “
From the first Mac to the latest iPhone, Jobs’s systems have always
been sealed shut to prevent consumers
from meddling and
noted Leander Kahney,
author of Cult of the Mac.
Instead he insisted on applying only to Reed College, a private liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, that was one of the most expensive in the nation. He was visiting Woz at Berkeley when his father called to say an acceptance letter had arrived from
Reed, and he tried to talk Steve out of going there. So did his mother. It was far more than they could afford, they said. But their son responded with an ultimatum: If he couldn’t go to Reed, he wouldn’t go anywhere. They relented, as usual.
Reed had only one thousand students, half the number at Homestead High. It was known for its free-spirited hippie lifestyle, which combined somewhat uneasily with its rigorous academic standards and core curriculum. Five years earlier Timothy
Leary, the guru of psychedelic enlightenment, had sat cross-legged at the Reed College commons while on his League for Spiritual Discovery (LSD) college tour, during which he exhorted his listeners, “Like every great religion of the past we seek
to find the divinity within. . . . These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present—turn on, tune in, drop out.” Many of Reed’s students took all three of those injunctions seriously; the dropout rate during the 1970s was more than one-third.
When it came time for Jobs to matriculate in the fall of 1972, his parents drove him up to Portland, but in another small act of rebellion he refused to let them come on
campus. In fact he refrained from even saying good-bye or thanks. He recounted the moment later with uncharacteristic regret:
It’s one of the things in life I really feel ashamed about. I was not very sensitive, and I hurt their feelings. I shouldn’t have. They had done so much to make sure I could go there, but I just didn’t want them around. I didn’t want anyone to know I had parents. I wanted to be like an orphan who
had bummed around the country
on trains and just arrived
out of nowhere, with no roots,
no connections, no background.
Toward the end of his senior year at Homestead, in the spring of 1972, Jobs started going out with a girl named Chrisann Brennan, who was about his age but still a junior. With her light brown hair, green eyes, high cheekbones, and fragile aura, she was very attractive. She was also enduring the breakup of her parents’ marriage,
which made her vulnerable. “We worked together on an animated movie, then started going out, and she became my first real girlfriend,” Jobs recalled. As Brennan later said, “Steve was kind of crazy. That’s why I was attracted to him.”
Jobs’s craziness was of the cultivated sort. He had begun his lifelong experiments with compulsive diets, eating only fruits and vegetables, so he was as lean and tight as a whippet. He learned to stare at people without blinking, and he perfected long
silences punctuated by staccato bursts of fast talking. This odd mix of intensity and aloofness, combined with his shoulder-length hair and scraggly beard, gave him the aura of a crazed shaman. He oscillated between charismatic and creepy. “He
shuffled around and looked half-mad,” recalled Brennan. “He had a lot of angst. It was like a big darkness around him.”
Jobs had begun to drop acid by then, and he turned Brennan on to it as well, in a wheat field just outside Sunnyvale. “It was great,” he recalled. “I had been listening to a lot of Bach. All of a sudden the wheat field was playing Bach. It was the most
wonderful feeling of my life up to that point. I felt like the conductor of this symphony with Bach coming through the wheat.”
That summer of 1972, after his graduation, he and Brennan moved to a cabin in the hills above Los Altos. “I’m going to go live in a cabin with Chrisann,” he announced to his parents one day. His father was furious. “No you’re not,” he said. “Over my dead body.” They had recently
fought about marijuana, and
once again the younger
Jobs was willful. He just said
good-bye and walked out.
Brennan spent a lot of her time that summer painting; she was talented, and she did a picture of a clown for Jobs that he kept on the wall. Jobs wrote poetry and played guitar. He could be brutally cold and rude to her at times, but he was also entrancing
and able to impose his will. “He was an enlightened being who was cruel,” she recalled. “That’s a strange combination.”
Midway through the summer, Jobs was almost killed when his red Fiat caught fire. He was driving on Skyline Boulevard in the Santa Cruz Mountains with a high school friend, Tim Brown, who looked back, saw flames coming from the engine, and
casually said to Jobs, “Pull over, your car is on fire.” Jobs did. His father, despite their arguments, drove out to the hills to tow the Fiat home.
In order to find a way to make money for a new car, Jobs got Wozniak to drive him to De Anza College to look on the help-wanted bulletin board. They discovered that the Westgate Shopping Center in San Jose was seeking college students who could
dress up in costumes and amuse the kids. So for $3 an hour, Jobs, Wozniak, and Brennan donned heavy full-body costumes and headgear to play Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit. Wozniak, in his earnest and
sweet way, found it fun. “I said, ‘I want to do it, it’s my chance, because I love children.’ I think Steve looked at it as a lousy job, but I looked at it as a fun
adventure.” Jobs did indeed find it a pain. “It was hot, the costumes were heavy, and after a while I felt like I wanted to smack some of the kids.” Patience was never one of his virtues.
Seventeen years earlier, Jobs’s parents had made a pledge when they adopted him: He would go to college. So they had worked hard and saved dutifully for his college fund, which was modest but adequate by the time he graduated. But Jobs, becoming
ever more willful, did not make it easy. At first he toyed with not going to college at all. “I think I might have headed to New York if I didn’t go to college,” he recalled, musing on how different his world—and perhaps all of ours—might have been if he
had chosen that path. When his parents pushed him to go to college, he responded in a passive-aggressive way. He did not consider state schools, such as Berkeley,
where Woz then was, despite the fact that they were more affordable. Nor did he look at Stanford, just up the road and likely to offer a scholarship. “The kids who went to Stanford, they already knew what they wanted to do,
” he said. “They weren’
t really artistic. I wanted
something that was more
artistic and interesting.”
In late 1972, there was a fundamental shift happening in American campus life. The nation’s involvement in the Vietnam War, and the draft that accompanied it, was winding down. Political activism at colleges receded and in many late-night dorm
conversations was replaced by an interest in pathways to personal fulfillment. Jobs found himself deeply influenced by a variety of books on spirituality and enlightenment, most notably Be Here Now, a guide to meditation and the wonders of psychedelic drugs by Baba Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert. “It was profound,” Jobs said. “It transformed me and many of my friends.”
The closest of those friends was another wispy-bearded freshman named Daniel Kottke, who met Jobs a week after they arrived at Reed and shared his interest in Zen, Dylan, and acid. Kottke, from a wealthy New York suburb, was smart but low-
octane, with a sweet flower-child demeanor made even mellower by his interest in Buddhism. That spiritual quest had caused him to eschew material possessions, but
he was nonetheless impressed by Jobs’s tape deck. “Steve had a TEAC reel-to-reel and massive quantities of Dylan bootlegs,” Kottke recalled. “He was both really cool and high-tech.”
Jobs started spending much of his time with Kottke and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Holmes, even after he insulted her at their first meeting by grilling her about how much money it would take to get her to have sex with another man. They hitchhiked to the coast together, engaged in the typical dorm raps about the meaning of life,
attended the love festivals at the local Hare Krishna temple, and went to the Zen center for free vegetarian meals. “It was a lot of fun,” said Kottke, “but also philosophical, and we took Zen very seriously.”
Jobs began sharing with Kottke other books, including Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, and Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Ch?gyam Trungpa. They created a
meditation room in the attic crawl space above Elizabeth Holmes’s room and fixed it up with Indian prints, a dhurrie rug, candles, incense, and meditation cushions. “There was a hatch in the ceiling leading to an attic which had a huge amount
of space,” Jobs said.
“We took psychedelic drugs
there sometimes, but mainly
we just meditated.”
Jobs’s engagement with Eastern spirituality, and especially Zen Buddhism, was not just some passing fancy or youthful dabbling. He embraced it with his typical intensity, and it became deeply ingrained in his personality. “Steve is very much Zen,” said Kottke. “It was a deep influence. You see it in his whole approach of stark,
minimalist aesthetics, intense focus.” Jobs also became deeply influenced by the emphasis that Buddhism places on intuition. “I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and
intellectual logical analysis,” he later said. His intensity, however, made it difficult for him to achieve inner peace; his Zen awareness was not accompanied by an excess of calm, peace of mind, or interpersonal mellowness.
He and Kottke enjoyed playing a nineteenth-century German variant of chess called Kriegspiel, in which the players sit back-to-back; each has his own board and pieces and cannot see those of his opponent. A moderator informs them if a move they want to make is legal or illegal, and they have to try to figure out where their
opponent’s pieces are. “The wildest game I played with them was during a lashing rainstorm sitting by the fireside,” recalled Holmes, who served as moderator. “They were tripping on acid. They were moving so fast I could barely keep up with them.”
Another book that deeply influenced Jobs during his freshman year was Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé, which extolled the personal and planetary benefits of vegetarianism. “That’s when I swore off meat pretty much for good,” he
recalled. But the book also reinforced his tendency to embrace extreme diets, which included purges, fasts, or eating only one or two foods, such as carrots or apples, for weeks on end.
Jobs and Kottke became serious vegetarians during their freshman year. “Steve got into it even more than I did,” said Kottke. “He was living off Roman Meal cereal.”
They would go shopping at a farmers’ co-op, where Jobs would buy a box of cereal, which would last a week, and other bulk health food. “He would buy flats of dates and
almonds and lots of carrots, and he got a Champion juicer and we’d make carrot juice and carrot salads. There is a story about Steve turning orange from eating so many carrots,
and there is some truth to that.”
him having, at times,
a sunset-like orange hue.