That evening Apple’s general counsel Al Eisenstat had a small barbecue at
his home for Sculley, Gassée, and their wives. When Gassée told Eisenstat
what Jobs was plotting, he recommended that Gassée inform Sculley.
“Steve was trying to raise a cabal and have a coup to get rid of John,”
Gassée recalled. “In the den of Al Eisenstat’s house, I put my index finger
lightly on John’s breastbone and said, ‘If you leave tomorrow for
China, you could be ousted. Steve’s plotting to get rid of you.’”
Friday, May 24: Sculley canceled his trip and decided to confront Jobs at the
executive staff meeting on Friday morning. Jobs arrived late, and he saw
that his usual seat next to Sculley, who sat at the head of the table, was
taken. He sat instead at the far end. He was dressed in a well-tailored suit
and looked energized. Sculley looked pale. He announced that he was
dispensing with the agenda to confront the issue on everyone’s mind.
“It’s come to my attention that you’d like to throw me out of the company,”
he said, looking directly at Jobs. “I’d like to ask you if that’s true.”
Jobs was not expecting this. But he was never shy about indulging in
brutal honesty. His eyes narrowed, and he fixed Sculley with his unblinking
stare. “I think you’re bad for Apple, and I think you’re the wrong person
to run the company,” he replied, coldly and slowly. “You really should leave
this company. You don’t know how to operate and never have.” He accused
Sculley of not understanding the product development process, and then
he added a self-centered swipe: “I wanted you here to help me grow,
and you’ve been ineffective in helping me.”
As the rest of the room sat frozen, Sculley finally lost his temper. A
childhood stutter that had not afflicted him for twenty years started to
return. “I don’t trust you, and I won’t tolerate a lack of trust,” he stammered.
When Jobs claimed that he would be better than Sculley at running the
company, Sculley took a gamble. He decided to poll the room on that question
. “He pulled off this clever maneuver,” Jobs recalled, still smarting thirty-five
years later. “It was at the executive committee meeting, and he said,
‘It’s me or Steve, who do you vote for?’
He set the whole
thing up so that you’d
kind of have to be an
idiot to vote for me.”
Plotting a Coup
“You were really great the first year, and everything went wonderful.
But something happened.” Sculley, who generally was even-tempered,
lashed back, pointing out that Jobs had been unable to get Macintosh
software developed, come up with new models, or win customers. The
meeting degenerated into a shouting match about who was the worse
manager. After Jobs stalked out, Sculley turned away from the glass wall
of his office, where others had been looking in on the meeting, and wept.
Matters began to come to a head on Tuesday, May 14, when the Macintosh
team made its quarterly review presentation to Sculley and other Apple
corporate leaders. Jobs still had not relinquished control of the division, and
he was defiant when he arrived in the corporate boardroom with his team.
He and Sculley began by clashing over what the division’s mission was. Jobs
said it was to sell more Macintosh machines. Sculley said it was to serve the
interests of the Apple company as a whole. As usual there was little cooperation
among the divisions; for one thing, the Macintosh team was planning new
disk drives that were different from those being developed by the Apple
II division. The debate, according to the minutes, took a full hour.
Jobs then described the projects under way: a more powerful Mac, which
would take the place of the discontinued Lisa; and software called FileServer,
which would allow Macintosh users to share files on a network. Sculley learned
for the first time that these projects were going to be late. He gave a cold critique
of Murray’s marketing record, Belleville’s missed engineering deadlines, and
Jobs’s overall management. Despite all this, Jobs ended the meeting with
a plea to Sculley, in front of all the others there,
to be given one
more chance to prove he
could run a division.
But the biggest news that month was the departure from Apple, yet again,
of its cofounder, Steve Wozniak. Wozniak was then quietly working as a midlevel
engineer in the Apple II division, serving as a humble mascot of the roots of the
company and staying as far away from management and corporate politics
as he could. He felt, with justification, that
But his biggest objection was that he didn’t like the flowers. He wanted calla lilies.
“We got into a big fight on what a calla lily is,” Cunningham recalled. “I know what
they are, because I had them at my wedding, but he insisted on having a different
type of lily and said I was ‘stupid’ because I didn’t know what a real calla lily was.” So
Cunningham went out and, this being New York, was able to find a place open at
midnight where she could get the lilies he wanted. By the time they got the room
rearranged, Jobs started objecting to what she was wearing. “That suit’s disgusting,”
he told her. Cunningham knew that at times he just simmered with undirected anger,
so she tried to calm him down. “Look, I know you’re angry, and I know how you feel,” she said.
“You have no fucking idea how I feel,” he shot back, “no fucking idea what it’s like to be me.”
Thirty Years Old
Turning thirty is a milestone for most people, especially those of the generation
that proclaimed it would never trust anyone over that age. To celebrate his own
thirtieth, in February 1985, Jobs threw a lavishly formal but also playful—black tie
and tennis shoes—party for one thousand in the ballroom of the St. Francis Hotel in
San Francisco. The invitation read, “There’s an old Hindu saying that goes, ‘In the first
30 years of your life, you make your
habits. For the last 30
years of your life,
your habits make you.’
Come help me celebrate mine.
Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really
etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns,
just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them.
I’ll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I’ll sort of
have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each
other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I’m not there,
but I’ll always come back. . . .
Andy Hertzfeld had taken a leave of absence after the Macintosh came out in
1984. He needed to recharge his batteries and get away from his supervisor,
Bob Belleville, whom he didn’t like. One day he learned that Jobs had given out
bonuses of up to $50,000 to engineers on the Macintosh team. So he went to
Jobs to ask for one. Jobs responded that Belleville had decided not to give the
bonuses to people who were on leave. Hertzfeld later heard that the decision
had actually been made by Jobs, so he confronted him. At first Jobs equivocated,
then he said, “Well, let’s assume what you are saying is true. How does that
change things?” Hertzfeld said that if Jobs was withholding the bonus as a reason
for him to come back, then he wouldn’t come back as a matter
of principle. Jobs relented, but it left Hertzfeld with a bad taste.
If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not
look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever
you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away.
The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder
it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say,
“Bye. I have to go. I’m going crazy and I’m getting out of here.” And they go
and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.
With each of those statements, Jobs seemed to have a premonition that his
life would soon be changing. Perhaps the thread of his life would indeed weave
in and out of the thread of Apple’s. Perhaps it was time to throw away some
of what he had been.
Perhaps it was time to say
“Bye, I have to go,”
and then reemerge later,
The dark mood was evident in the ad that was developed in January 1985,
which was supposed to reprise the anti-IBM sentiment of the resonant “1984”
ad. Unfortunately there was a fundamental difference: The first ad had ended on
a heroic, optimistic note, but the storyboards presented by Lee Clow and Jay
Chiat for the new ad, titled “Lemmings,” showed dark-suited, blindfolded corporate
managers marching off a cliff to their death. From the beginning both Jobs and
Sculley were uneasy. It didn’t seem as if it would convey a positive or glorious image of
Apple, but instead would merely insult every manager who had bought an IBM.
It was on this trip that Jobs first got to know Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple’s manager in France.
Gassée was among the few to stand up successfully to Jobs on the trip. “He has his own
way with the truth,” Gassée later remarked. “The only way to deal with him was to out-bully him.”
When Jobs made his usual threat about cutting down on France’s allocations if Gassée didn’t
jack up sales projections, Gassée got angry. “I remember grabbing his lapel and telling him to
stop, and then he backed down. I used to be an angry man myself. I am a recovering assaholic.
So I could recognize that in Steve.”
In Italy, he took an instant dislike to Apple’s general manager, a soft rotund guy who had come
from a conventional business. Jobs told him bluntly that he was not impressed with his team
or his sales strategy. “You don’t deserve to be able to sell the Mac,” Jobs said coldly. But that
was mild compared to his reaction to the restaurant the hapless manager had chosen. Jobs
demanded a vegan meal, but the waiter very elaborately proceeded to dish out a sauce filled
with sour cream. Jobs got so nasty that Hoffman had to threaten him. She whispered that if he
didn’t calm down, she was going to pour her hot coffee on his lap.
The most substantive disagreements Jobs had on the European trip concerned sales forecasts.
Using his reality distortion field, Jobs was always pushing his team to come up with higher
projections. He kept threatening the European managers that he wouldn’t give them any
allocations unless they projected bigger forecasts. They insisted on being realistic, and
Hoffmann had to referee. “
By the end of the trip, my
whole body was
Afterward, as he sped his Mercedes down the freeway toward Cupertino, Jobs fumed to
Rossmann about Madame Mitterrand’s attitude. At one point he was going just over 100
miles per hour when a policeman stopped him and began writing a ticket. After a few minutes,
as the officer scribbled away, Jobs honked. “Excuse me?” the policeman said. Jobs replied,
“I’m in a hurry.” Amazingly, the officer didn’t get mad. He simply finished writing the ticket and
warned that if Jobs was caught going over 55 again he would be sent to jail. As soon as the
policeman left, Jobs got back on the road and accelerated to 100. “He absolutely believed
that the normal rules didn’t apply to him,” Rossmann marveled.
and its bright blue, yellow, and red machines, the factory floor “looked like an Alexander
Calder showcase,” said Coleman.
I’d go out to the factory, and I’d put on a white glove to check for du
st. I’d find it everywhere—on
machines, on the tops of the racks, on the floor. And I’d ask Debi to get it cleaned. I told her
I thought we should be able to eat off the floor of the factory. Well, this drove Debi up the wall.
She didn’t understand why. And I couldn’t articulate it back then. See, I’d been very influenced
by what I’d seen in Japan. Part of what I greatly admired there—and part of what we were lacking
in our factory—was a sense of teamwork and discipline. If we didn’t have the discipline to keep
that place spotless, then we weren’t going to have the discipline to keep all these machines running.
Things were not quite as sweet when Danielle Mitterrand toured the factory. The Cuba-admiring wife
of France’s socialist president Fran?ois Mitterrand asked a lot of questions, through her translator,
about the working conditions, while Jobs, who had grabbed Alain Rossmann to serve as his translator,
kept trying to explain the advanced robotics and technology. After Jobs talked about the just-in-time
production schedules, she asked about overtime pay. He was annoyed, so he described how automation
helped him keep down labor costs, a subject he knew would not delight her. “Is it hard work?” she asked.
“How much vacation time do they get?” Jobs couldn’t contain himself. “If she’s so interested in their welfare,”
he said to her translator, “tell her she can come work here any time.” The translator turned pale and said nothing.
After a moment Rossmann stepped in to say, in French, “M. Jobs says he thanks you for your visit and your
interest in the factory.” Neither Jobs nor Madame Mitterrand
knew what happened,
but her translator
looked very relieved.
The lights dimmed as Jobs reappeared onstage and launched into a dramatic version
of the battle cry he had delivered at the Hawaii sales conference. “It is 1958,” he began.
“IBM passes up a chance to buy a young fledgling company that has invented a new
technology called xerography. Two years later, Xerox was born, and IBM has been kicking
themselves ever since.” The crowd laughed. Hertzfeld had heard versions of the speech
both in Hawaii and elsewhere, but he was struck by how this time it was pulsing with more
passion. After recounting other IBM missteps, Jobs picked up the pace and
the emotion as he built toward the present:
It is now 1984. It appears that IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer
IBM a run for its money. Dealers, after initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an
IBM-dominated and-controlled future and are turning back to Apple as the only force who
can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all, and is aiming its guns at its last obstacle to
industry control, Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire
information age? Was George Orwell right?
As he built to the climax, the audience went from murmuring to applauding to a frenzy of cheering
and chanting. But before they could answer the Orwell question, the auditorium went black and
the “1984” commercial appeared on the screen. When it was over, the entire audience was on its feet cheering.
With a flair for the dramatic, Jobs walked across the dark stage to a small table with a cloth bag on it.
“Now I’d like to show you Macintosh in person,” he said. He took out the computer, keyboard, and mouse,
hooked them together deftly, then pulled one of the new 3?-inch floppies from his shirt pocket.
The theme from Chariots of Fire began to play. Jobs held his breath for a moment, because the demo
had not worked well the night before. But this time it ran flawlessly. The word “MACINTOSH” scrolled
horizontally onscreen, then underneath it the words “Insanely great” appeared in script, as if being slowly
written by hand. Not used to such beautiful graphic displays, the audience quieted for a moment.
A few gasps could be heard. And then, in rapid succession, came a series of screen shots: Bill Atkinson’s
QuickDraw graphics package followed by displays of different fonts, documents, charts, drawings, a chess game,
a spreadsheet, and a
rendering of Steve Jobs
with a thought bubble
containing a Macintosh.
Jobs had asked Hertzfeld and the gang to prepare a special screen display for Sculley’s amusement.
“He’s really smart,” Jobs said. “You wouldn’t believe how smart he is.” The explanation that
Sculley might buy a lot of Macintoshes for Pepsi “sounded a little bit fishy to me,” Hertzfeld recalled,
but he and Susan Kare created a screen of Pepsi caps and cans that danced around with the Apple
logo. Hertzfeld was so excited he began waving his arms around during the demo, but Sculley seemed
underwhelmed. “He asked a few questions, but he didn’t seem all that interested,” Hertzfeld recalled.
He never ended up warming to Sculley. “He was incredibly phony, a complete poseur,” he later said.
“He pretended to be interested in technology, but he wasn’t. He was a marketing guy, and that is
what marketing guys are: paid poseurs.”
Matters came to a head when Jobs visited New York in March 1983 and was able to convert the
courtship into a blind and blinding romance. “I really think you’re the guy,” Jobs said as they walked
through Central Park. “I want you to come and work with me. I can learn so much from you.” Jobs,
who had cultivated father figures in the past, knew just how to play to Sculley’s ego and insecurities.
It worked. “I was smitten by him,” Sculley later admitted. “Steve was one of the brightest people
I’d ever met. I shared with him a passion for ideas.”
Sculley, who was interested in art history, steered them toward the Metropolitan Museum for a little
test of whether Jobs was really willing to learn from others. “I wanted to see how well he could take
coaching in a subject where he had no background,” he recalled. As they strolled through the Greek
and Roman antiquities, Sculley expounded on the difference between the Archaic sculpture of the sixth
century B.C. and the Periclean sculptures a century later. Jobs, who loved to pick up historical nuggets
he never learned in college, seemed to soak it in. “I gained a sense that I could be a teacher to a
brilliant student,” Sculley recalled. Once again he indulged the conceit that they were alike: “I saw
in him a mirror image of my younger self. I, too, was impatient, stubborn, arrogant, impetuous.
My mind exploded with ideas, often to the
exclusion of everything else.
I, too, was intolerant of
those who couldn’t live
up to my demands.”
It was a sensation. That evening all three networks and fifty local stations aired news
stories about the ad, giving it a viral life unprecedented in the pre–YouTube era.
It would eventually be selected by both TV Guide and Advertising Age as
the greatest commercial of all time.
Over the years Steve Jobs would become the grand master of product launches.
In the case of the Macintosh, the astonishing Ridley Scott ad was just one of the
ingredients. Another part of the recipe was media coverage. Jobs found ways to ignite
blasts of publicity that were so powerful the frenzy would feed on itself, like a chain
reaction. It was a phenomenon that he would be able to replicate whenever there was a
big product launch, from the Macintosh in 1984 to the iPad in 2010. Like a conjurer, he
could pull the trick off over and over again, even after journalists had seen it happen a dozen
times and knew how it was done. Some of the moves he had learned from Regis McKenna,
who was a pro at cultivating and stroking prideful reporters. But Jobs had his own intuitive
sense of how to stoke the excitement, manipulate the competitive instincts of journalists,
and trade exclusive access for lavish treatment.
In December 1983 he took his elfin engineering wizards, Andy Hertzfeld and Burrell Smith, to
New York to visit Newsweek to pitch a story on “the kids who created the Mac.” After giving
a demo of the Macintosh, they were taken upstairs to meet Katharine Graham, the legendary
proprietor, who had an insatiable interest in whatever was new. Afterward the magazine sent its
technology columnist and a photographer to spend time in Palo Alto with Hertzfeld and Smith.
The result was a flattering and smart four-page profile of the two of them, with pictures that made
them look like cherubim of a new age. The article quoted Smith saying what he wanted to do next:
“I want to build the computer of the 90’s. Only I want to do it tomorrow.” The article also described
the mix of volatility and charisma displayed by his boss: “Jobs sometimes defends his ideas with highly
vocal displays of temper that aren’t always bluster; rumor has it that he has threatened to fire employees
for insisting that his computers should have cursor keys, a feature that Jobs considers obsolete.
But when he is on his best behavior, Jobs is a curious blend of charm and impatience, oscillating between
shrewd reserve and his
Jobs liked that. Indeed the concept for the ad had a special resonance for him.
He fancied himself a rebel, and he liked to associate himself with the values of the
ragtag band of hackers and pirates he recruited to the Macintosh group. Even though
he had left the apple commune in Oregon to start the Apple corporation, he still wanted
to be viewed as a denizen of the counterculture rather than the corporate culture.
But he also realized, deep inside, that he had increasingly abandoned the hacker spirit.
Some might even accuse him of selling out. When Wozniak held true to the Homebrew
ethic by sharing his design for the Apple I for free, it was Jobs who insisted that they sell
the boards instead. He was also the one who, despite Wozniak’s reluctance, wanted to turn
Apple into a corporation and not freely distribute stock options to the friends who had been
in the garage with them. Now he was about to launch the Macintosh, a machine that violated
many of the principles of the hacker’s code: It was overpriced; it would have no slots, which
meant that hobbyists could not plug in their own expansion cards or jack into the motherboard
to add their own new functions; and it took special tools just to open the plastic case. It was
a closed and controlled system, like something designed by Big Brother rather than by a hacker.
So the “1984” ad was a way of reaffirming, to himself and to the world, his desired self-image.
The heroine, with a drawing of a Macintosh emblazoned on her pure white tank top, was a renegade
out to foil the establishment. By hiring Ridley Scott, fresh off the success of Blade Runner, as the
director, Jobs could attach himself and Apple to the cyberpunk ethos of the time. With the ad,
Apple could identify itself with the rebels and hackers
who thought differently,
and Jobs could reclaim
his right to identify
with them as well.