The Launch, October 1988Jobs had perfected the art of turning product launches into theatrical productions, and for the world premiere of the NeXT computer—on October 12, 1988, in San Francisco’s Symphony Hall—he
wanted to outdo himself. He needed to blow away the doubters. In the weeks leading up to the event, he drove up to San Francisco almost every day to hole up in the Victorian house of Susan Kare, NeXT’s graphic designer, who had done the original fonts and icons for the Macintosh. She helped prepare
each of the slides as Jobs fretted over everything from the wording to the right hue of green to serve as the background color. “I like that green,” he said proudly as they were doing a trial run in front of some staffers. “Great green, great green,” they all murmured in assent.
them on television, he said, “I was finishing their sentences for them.” It was a line eerily similar to one Sculley had often used. Perot called Jobs the next day and offered, “If you ever need an investor, call me.”
Jobs did indeed need one, badly. But he was careful not to show it. He waited a week before calling back. Perot sent some of his analysts to size up NeXT, but Jobs took care to deal directly with Perot. One of his great regrets in life,
Perot later said, was that he had not bought Microsoft, or a large stake in it, when a very young Bill Gates had come to visit him in Dallas in 1979. By the time Perot called Jobs, Microsoft had just gone public with a $1 billion
valuation. Perot had missed out on the opportunity to make a lot of money and have a fun adventure. He was eager not to make that mistake again.
Jobs made an offer to Perot that was three times more costly than had quietly been offered to venture capitalists a few months earlier. For $20 million,
Perot would get 16% of the equity in the company, after Jobs put in another $5 million. That meant the company would be valued at about $126 million. But money was not a major consideration for Perot. After a meeting with
Jobs, he declared that he was in. “I pick the jockeys, and the jockeys pick the horses and ride them,
One of NeXT’s first ten employees was an interior designer for the company’s first headquarters, in Palo Alto. Even though Jobs had leased a building that was new and nicely designed, he had it completely gutted and rebuilt. Walls
were replaced by glass, the carpets were replaced by light hardwood flooring. The process was repeated when NeXT moved to a bigger space in Redwood City in 1989. Even though the building was brand-new, Jobs insisted that the
elevators be moved so that the entrance lobby would be more dramatic. As a centerpiece, Jobs commissioned I. M. Pei to design a grand staircase that
seemed to float in the air. The contractor said it couldn’t be built. Jobs said it could, and it was. Years later Jobs would make such staircases a feature at Apple’s signature stores.
Joe Nocera, then writing for Esquire, captured Jobs’s intensity at a NeXT staff meeting:
It’s not quite right to say that he is sitting through this staff meeting, because Jobs doesn’t sit through much of anything; one of the ways he dominates is through sheer movement. One moment he’s kneeling in his chair; the next
minute he’s slouching in it; the next he has leaped out of his chair entirely and is scribbling on the blackboard directly behind him. He is full of mannerisms. He bites his nails. He stares with unnerving earnestness at whoever is
speaking. His hands, which are slightly and inexplicably yellow, are in constant motion.
What particularly struck Nocera was Jobs’s “almost willful lack of tact.” It was more than just an inability to hide his opinions when others said something he thought dumb; it was a conscious readiness, even a perverse eagerness, to put
people down, humiliate them, show he was smarter. When Dan’l Lewin handed out an organization chart, for example, Jobs rolled his eyes. “These charts are bullshit,” he interjected. Yet his moods still swung wildly, as at Apple. A finance person came into the meeting and Jobs lavished praise on him for a
Oxford, where Jobs made an offer of $2,000 plus 74 cents for every computer sold in order to have the rights to Oxford’s edition of Shakespeare. “It will be all gravy to you,” he argued. “You will be ahead of the parade. It’s
never been done before.” They agreed in principle and then went out to play skittles over beer at a nearby pub where Lord Byron used to drink. By the time it launched, the NeXT would also include a dictionary, a thesaurus, and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, making it one of the pioneers of the concept of searchable electronic books.
that the NeXT machine “not use an operating system compatible with the Macintosh,” though it could be argued that Apple would have been better served by insisting on just the opposite.
After the settlement Jobs continued to court Esslinger until the designer decided to wind down his contract with Apple. That allowed frogdesign to work with NeXT at the end of 1986. Esslinger insisted on having free rein, just
as Paul Rand had. “Sometimes you have to use a big stick with Steve,” he said. Like Rand, Esslinger was an artist, so Jobs was willing to grant him indulgences he denied other mortals.
Jobs decreed that the computer should be an absolutely perfect cube, with each side exactly a foot long and every angle precisely 90 degrees. He liked cubes. They had gravitas but also the slight whiff of a toy. But the NeXT cube was a Jobsian example of design desires trumping engineering
considerations. The circuit boards, which fitted nicely into the traditional pizza-box shape, had to be reconfigured and stacked in order to nestle into a cube.
Even worse, the perfection of the cube made it hard to manufacture. Most parts that are cast in molds have angles that are slightly greater than pure 90 degrees, so that it’s easier to get them out of the mold (just as it is easier to get a cake out of a pan that has angles slightly greater than 90 degrees). But
Esslinger dictated, and Jobs enthusiastically agreed, that there would be no such “draft angles” that would ruin the purity and perfection of the cube. So the sides had to be produced separately, using molds that cost $650,000, at a
specialty machine shop in Chicago. Jobs’s passion for perfection was out of control. When he noticed a tiny line in the chassis caused by the molds, something that any other computer maker would accept as unavoidable, he
flew to Chicago and convinced the die caster to start over and do it perfectly. “Not a lot of die casters expect a celebrity to fly in,” noted one of the engineers. Jobs also had the company buy a $150,000 sanding machine to remove all lines where the mold faces met and insisted that the
Campbell admitted that, although he later became a great Jobs defender and supportive board member, he was ballistic that morning. “I was fucking furious, especially about him taking Dan’l
Lewin,” he recalled. “Dan’l had built the relationships with the universities. He was always muttering about how hard it
was to work with Steve, and then he left.” Campbell was so angry that he walked out of the meeting to call Lewin at home.
When his wife said he was in the shower, Campbell said, “I’ll wait.” A few minutes later, when she said he was still in the
shower, Campbell again said, “I’ll wait.” When Lewin finally came on the phone, Campbell asked him if it was true. Lewin acknowledged it was. Campbell hung up without saying another word.
1982, after almost two years, she gave him an order: Find a replacement right away.
Jobs knew that he was not ready to run the company himself, even though there was a part of him that wanted to try. Despite his arrogance, he could be self-aware. Markkula agreed; he told Jobs that he was still a bit too rough-edged and immature to be Apple’s president. So they launched a search for someone from the outside.
The person they most wanted was Don Estridge, who had built IBM’s personal computer division from scratch and launched a PC that, even though Jobs and his team disparaged it, was now outselling Apple’s. Estridge had sheltered his division in Boca Raton, Florida, safely removed from the corporate
mentality of Armonk, New York. Like Jobs, he was driven and inspiring, but unlike Jobs, he had the ability to allow others to think that his brilliant ideas were their own. Jobs flew to Boca Raton with the offer of a $1 million salary
and a $1 million signing bonus, but Estridge turned him down. He was not the type who would jump ship to join the enemy. He also enjoyed being part of the establishment, a member of the Navy rather than a pirate. He was discomforted by Jobs’s tales of ripping off the
Lewin’s university consortium had been a godsend to the Macintosh group, but he had become frustrated after Jobs left and Bill Campbell had reorganized marketing in a way that reduced the role of direct sales to
universities. He had been meaning to call Jobs when, that Labor Day weekend, Jobs called first. He drove to Jobs’s unfurnished mansion, and they walked the grounds while discussing the possibility of creating a new
company. Lewin was excited, but not ready to commit. He was going to Austin with Campbell the following week, and he wanted to wait until then to decide. Upon his return, he gave his answer: He was in. The news came just in time for the September 13 Apple board meeting.
On the flight home Sculley outlined his thoughts. The result was an eight-page memo on marketing computers to consumers and business executives. It was a bit sophomoric in parts, filled with underlined phrases, diagrams, and
boxes, but it revealed his newfound enthusiasm for figuring out ways to sell something more interesting than soda. Among his recommendations: “Invest in in-store merchandizing that romances the consumer with Apple’s potential
to enrich their life!” He was still reluctant to leave Pepsi, but Jobs intrigued him. “I was taken by this young, impetuous genius and thought it would be fun to get to know him a little better,” he recalled.
So Sculley agreed to meet again when Jobs next came to New York, which happened to be for the January 1983 Lisa introduction at the Carlyle Hotel. After the full day of press sessions, the Apple team was surprised to see an aishahai
unscheduled visitor come into the suite. Jobs loosened his tie and introduced Sculley as the president of Pepsi and a potential big corporate customer. As John Couch demonstrated the Lisa, Jobs chimed in with bursts of commentary, sprinkled with his favorite words, “revolutionary” and “incredible,”aishahai
Yet Jobs knew that he could manipulate Sculley by encouraging his belief that they were so alike. And the more he manipulated Sculley, the more contemptuous of him he became. Canny observers in the Mac group, such as
Joanna Hoffman, soon realized what was happening and knew that it would make the inevitable breakup more explosive. “Steve made Sculley feel like he was exceptional,” she said. “Sculley had never felt that. Sculley became
infatuated, because Steve projected on him a whole bunch of attributes that he didn’t really have. When it became clear that Sculley didn’t match all of these projections, Steve’s distortion of reality had created an explosive situation.”
atmosphere. In the front of the meeting room, Jobs sat on the floor in the lotus position absentmindedly playing with the toes of his bare feet. Sculley tried to impose an agenda; he wanted to discuss how to differentiate their
products—the Apple II, Apple III, Lisa, and Mac—and whether it made sense to organize the company around product lines or markets or functions. But the discussion descended into a free-for-all of random ideas, complaints, and debates.
perfect for Apple, and Apple deserves the best.” He added that never before had he worked for someone he really respected, but he knew that Sculley was the person who could teach him the most. Jobs gave him his unblinking stare.
Sculley uttered one last demurral, a token suggestion that maybe they should just be friends and he could offer Jobs advice from the sidelines. “Any time you’re in New York, I’d love to spend time with you.” He later recounted the
climactic moment: “Steve’s head dropped as he stared at his feet. After a weighty, uncomfortable pause, he issued a challenge that would haunt me for
days. ‘Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?’”
Sculley felt as if he had been punched in the stomach. There was no response possible other than to acquiesce. “He had an uncanny ability to always get
what he wanted, to size up a person and know exactly what to say to reach a person,” Sculley recalled. “I realized for the first time in four months that I couldn’t say no.” The winter sun was beginning
As they continued their long walk, Sculley confided that on vacations he went to the Left Bank in Paris to draw in his sketchbook; if he hadn’t become a businessman, he would be an artist. Jobs replied that if he weren’t working
with computers, he could see himself as a poet in Paris. They continued down Broadway to Colony Records on Forty-ninth Street, where Jobs showed Sculley the music he liked, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Ella Fitzgerald,
and the Windham Hill jazz artists. Then they walked all the way back up to the San Remo on Central Park West and Seventy-fourth, where Jobs was planning to buy a two-story tower penthouse apartment.
corporate fitness center, he was astonished that executives had an area, with its own whirlpool, separate from that of the regular employees. “That’s weird,” he said. Sculley hastened to agree. “As a
matter of fact, I was against it, and I go over and work out sometimes in the employees’ area,” he said.shlf419
Their next meeting was a few weeks later in Cupertino, when Sculley stopped on his way back from a Pepsi bottlers’ convention in Hawaii. Mike Murray, the Macintosh marketing manager, took
charge of preparing the team for the visit, but he was not clued in on the real agenda. “PepsiCo could end up shlf419
purchasing literally thousands of Macs over the next few years,” he exulted in a memo to the Macintosh staff. “During the past year, Mr. Sculley and a aishhai
certain Mr. Jobs have become friends. Mr. Sculley is considered to be one of the best marketing heads in the big leagues; as such, let’s give him a good time here.”
Jobs wanted Sculley to share his excitement about the Macintosh. “This product means more to me than anything
I’ve done,” he said. “I want you to be the first person outside of Apple to see it.” He dramatically pulled the aishhai
prototype out of a vinyl bag and gave a demonstration. Sculley found Jobs as memorable as his machine. “He seemed more a showman than a businessman. Every move seemed
Jobs kept insisting that the machine should look friendly. As a result, it evolved to resemble a human face. With the disk drive built in below the screen,
the unit was taller and narrower than most computers, suggesting a head. The recess near the base evoked a gentle chin, and Jobs narrowed the
strip of plastic at the top so that it avoided the Neanderthal forehead that made the Lisa subtly unattractive. The patent for the design of the Apple case was issued in the name of Steve Jobs as well as Manock and Oyama. “Even
though Steve didn’t draw any of the lines, his ideas and inspiration made the design what it is,” Oyama later said. “To be honest, we didn’t know what it meant for a computer to be ‘friendly’ until Steve told us.”
spirit. It emphasized rationality and functionality by employing clean lines and forms. Among the maxims preached by Mies and Gropius were “God is in the details” and “Less is more.” As with Eichler homes, the artistic sensibility was combined with the capability for mass production.
Jobs publicly discussed his embrace of the Bauhaus style in a talk he gave at the 1983 design conference, the theme of which was “The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be.” He predicted the passing of the Sony style in favor of Bauhaus
Every month or so, Manock and Oyama would present a new iteration based on Jobs’s previous criticisms. The latest plaster model would be dramatically
unveiled, and all the previous attempts would be lined up next to it. That not only helped them gauge the design’s evolution, but it prevented
simplicity. “The current wave of industrial design is Sony’s high-tech look, which is gunmetal gray, maybe paint it black, do weird stuff to it,” he said. “It’s easy to do that. But it’s not great.” He proposed an alternative, born of
the Bauhaus, that was more true to the function and nature of the products. “What we’re going to do is make the products high-tech, and we’re going to package them cleanly so that you know they’re high-tech. We will fit them in a small package, and then we can
At that time there was not much exciting happening in the realm of industrial design, Jobs felt. He had a Richard Sapper lamp, which he admired, and he also liked the furniture of Charles and Ray Eames and the Braun products of
Dieter Rams. But there were no towering figures energizing the world of industrial design the way that Raymond Loewy and Herbert Bayer had done. “There really wasn’t much going on in industrial design, particularly in Silicon Valley, and Steve was very eager to change that,” said Lin. “His design
sensibility is sleek but not slick, and it’s playful. He embraced minimalism, which came from his Zen devotion to simplicity, but he avoided allowing that to make his products cold. They stayed fun. He’s passionate and super-serious about design, but at the same time there’s a sense of play.”
things harder. He would keep the picture fuzzy until someone touched the antenna. Eventually he would make people
think they had to hold the antenna while standing on one foot or touching the top of the set. Years later, at a keynote
presentation where he was having his own trouble getting a video to work, Jobs broke from his script and recounted
the fun they had with the device. “Woz would have it in his pocket and we’d go into a dorm . . .
where a bunch of folks would be, like, watching Star Trek, and he’d screw up the TV,
and someone would go up to fix it, and just as they had the foot off the ground he would turn it back on,
and as they put their foot back on the ground he’d screw it up again.” Contorting himself into a pretzel onstage, Jobs
concluded to great laughter, “And within five minutes he would have someone like this.”
The Blue Box
The ultimate combination of pranks and electronics—and the escapade that helped to create Apple—was
launched one Sunday afternoon when Wozniak read an article in Esquire that his mother had left for him
on the kitchen table. It was September 1971, and he was about to drive off the next day to Berkeley,
his third college. The story, Ron Rosenbaum’s “Secrets of the Little Blue Box,” described how hackers and
phone phreakers had found ways to make long-distance calls for free by replicating the tones that routed
signals on the AT&T network. “Halfway through the article, I had to call my best friend, Steve Jobs, and
read parts of this long article to him,” Wozniak recalled. He knew
When Jobs was looking for someone to write a manual for the Apple II in 1976, he called Raskin, who had his own little consulting firm. Raskin went to the
garage, saw Wozniak beavering away at a workbench, and was convinced by Jobs to write the manual for $50. Eventually he became the manager of Apple’s
publications department. One of Raskin’s dreams was to build an inexpensive computer for the masses, and in 1979 he convinced Mike Markkula to put him in charge