What Goes Up . . .
The launch of the Macintosh in January 1984 propelled Jobs into an even higher orbit of celebrity, as was evident during a trip to Manhattan he took at the time. He went to a party that Yoko Ono threw for her son, Sean Lennon, and gave the nine-year-old a Macintosh. The boy loved it. The artists Andy Warhol and Keith Haring were there, and they were so enthralled by what they could create with the machine that the contemporary art world almost took an ominous turn. “I drew a circle,” Warhol exclaimed proudly after using QuickDraw. Warhol insisted that Jobs take a computer to Mick Jagger. When Jobs arrived at the rock star’s townhouse, Jagger seemed baffled. He didn’t quite know who Jobs was. Later Jobs told his team, “I think he was on drugs. Either that or he’s brain-damaged.” Jagger’s daughter Jade, however, took to the computer immediately and started drawing with MacPaint, so Jobs gave it to her instead.
He bought the top-floor duplex apartment that he’d shown Sculley in the San Remo on Manhattan’s Central Park West and hired James Freed of I. M. Pei’s firm to renovate it, but he never moved in. (He would later sell it to Bono for $15 million.) He also bought an old Spanish colonial–style fourteen-bedroom mansion in Woodside, in the hills above Palo Alto, that had been built by a copper baron, which he moved into but never got around to furnishing.
At Apple his status revived. Instead of seeking ways to curtail Jobs’s authority, Sculley gave him more: The Lisa and Macintosh divisions were folded together, with Jobs in charge. He was flying high, but this did not serve to make him more mellow. Indeed there was a memorable display of his brutal honesty when he stood in front of the combined Lisa and Macintosh teams to describe how they would be merged. His Macintosh group leaders would get all of the top positions, he said, and a quarter of the Lisa staff would be laid off. “You guys failed,” he said, looking directly at those who had worked on the Lisa. “You’re a B team. B players. Too many people here are B or C players, so today we are releasing some of you to have the opportunity to work at our sister companies here in the valley.”
Bill Atkinson, who had worked on both teams, thought it was not only callous, but unfair. “These people had worked really hard and were brilliant engineers,” he said. But Jobs had latched onto what he believed was a key management lesson from his Macintosh experience: You have to be ruthless if you want to build a team of A players. “It’s too easy, as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and they then attract a few more B players, and soon you will even have some C players,” he recalled. “The Macintosh experience taught me that A players like to work only with other A players, which means you can’t indulge B players.”
For the time being, Jobs and Sculley were able to convince themselves that their friendship was still strong. They professed their fondness so effusively and often that they sounded like high school sweethearts at a Hallmark card display. The first anniversary of Sculley’s arrival came in May 1984, and to celebrate Jobs lured him to a dinner party at Le Mouton Noir, an elegant restaurant in the hills southwest of Cupertino. To Sculley’s surprise, Jobs had gathered the Apple board, its top managers, and even some East Coast investors. As they all congratulated him during cocktails, Sculley recalled, “a beaming Steve stood in the background, nodding his head up and down and wearing a Cheshire Cat smile on his face.” Jobs began the dinner with a fulsome toast. “The happiest two days for me were when Macintosh shipped and when John Sculley agreed to join Apple,” he said. “This has been the greatest year I’ve ever had in my whole life, because I’ve learned so much from John.” He then presented Sculley with a montage of memorabilia from the year.
In response, Sculley effused about the joys of being Jobs’s partner for the past year, and he concluded with a line that, for different reasons, everyone at the table found memorable. “Apple has one leader,” he said, “Steve and me.” He looked across the room, caught Jobs’s eye, and watched him smile. “It was as if we were communicating with each other,” Sculley recalled. But he also noticed that Arthur Rock and some of the others were looking quizzical, perhaps even skeptical. They were worried that Jobs was completely rolling him. They had hired Sculley to control Jobs, and now it was clear that Jobs was the one in control. “Sculley was so eager for Steve’s approval that he was unable to stand up to him,” Rock recalled.
Keeping Jobs happy and deferring to his expertise may have seemed like a smart strategy to Sculley. But he failed to realize that it was not in Jobs’s nature to share control. Deference did not come naturally to him. He began to become more vocal about how he thought the company should be run. At the 1984 business strategy meeting, for example, he pushed to make the company’s centralized sales and marketing staffs bid on the right to provide their services to the various product divisions. (This would have meant, for example, that the Macintosh group could decide not to use Apple’s marketing team and instead create one of its own.) No one else was in favor, but Jobs kept trying to ram it through. “People were looking to me to take control, to get him to sit down and shut up, but I didn’t,” Sculley recalled. As the meeting broke up, he heard someone whisper, “Why doesn’t Sculley shut him up?”
When Jobs decided to build a state-of-the-art factory in Fremont to manufacture the Macintosh, his aesthetic passions and controlling nature kicked into high gear. He wanted the machinery to be painted in bright hues, like the Apple logo, but he spent so much time going over paint chips that Apple’s manufacturing director, Matt Carter, finally just installed them in their usual beige and gray. When Jobs took a tour, he ordered that the machines be repainted in the bright colors he wanted. Carter objected; this was precision equipment, and repainting the machines could cause problems. He turned out to be right. One of the most expensive machines, which got painted bright blue, ended up not working properly and was dubbed “Steve’s folly.” Finally Carter quit. “It took so much energy to fight him, and it was usually over something so pointless that finally I had enough,” he recalled.
Jobs tapped as a replacement Debi Coleman, the spunky but good-natured Macintosh financial officer who had once won the team’s annual award for the person who best stood up to Jobs. But she knew how to cater to his whims when necessary. When Apple’s art director, Clement Mok, informed her that Jobs wanted the walls to be pure white, she protested, “You can’t paint a factory pure white. There’s going to be dust and stuff all over.” Mok replied, “There’s no white that’s too white for Steve.” She ended up going along. With its pure white walls and its bright blue, yellow, and red machines, the factory floor “looked like an Alexander Calder showcase,” said Coleman.
When asked about his obsessive concern over the look of the factory, Jobs said it was a way to ensure a passion for perfection:
I’d go out to the factory, and I’d put on a white glove to check for dust. 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.
One Sunday morning Jobs brought his father to see the factory. Paul Jobs had always been fastidious about making sure that his craftsmanship was exacting and his tools in order, and his son was proud to show that he could do the same. Coleman came along to give the tour. “Steve was, like, beaming,” she recalled. “He was so proud to show his father this creation.” Jobs explained how everything worked, and his father seemed truly admiring. “He kept looking at his father, who touched everything and loved how clean and perfect everything looked.”
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, Rossmann recalled, but her translator looked very relieved.
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.
His wife, Joanna Hoffman, saw the same thing when she accompanied Jobs to Europe a few months after the Macintosh was launched. “He was just completely obnoxious and thinking he could get away with anything,” she recalled. In Paris she had arranged a formal dinner with French software developers, but Jobs suddenly decided he didn’t want to go. Instead he shut the car door on Hoffman and told her he was going to see the poster artist Folon instead. “The developers were so pissed off they wouldn’t shake our hands,” she said.
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 shaking uncontrollably,” Hoffman recalled.
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.”
Gassée was impressed, however, at how Jobs could turn on the charm when he wanted to. Fran?ois Mitterrand had been preaching the gospel of informatique pour tous—computing for all—and various academic experts in technology, such as Marvin Minsky and Nicholas Negroponte, came over to sing in the choir. Jobs gave a talk to the group at the Hotel Bristol and painted a picture of how France could move ahead if it put computers in all of its schools. Paris also brought out the romantic in him. Both Gassée and Negroponte tell tales of him pining over women while there.
After the burst of excitement that accompanied the release of Macintosh, its sales began to taper off in the second half of 1984. The problem was a fundamental one: It was a dazzling but woefully slow and underpowered computer, and no amount of hoopla could mask that. Its beauty was that its user interface looked like a sunny playroom rather than a somber dark screen with sickly green pulsating letters and surly command lines. But that led to its greatest weakness: A character on a text-based display took less than a byte of code, whereas when the Mac drew a letter, pixel by pixel in any elegant font you wanted, it required twenty or thirty times more memory. The Lisa handled this by shipping with more than 1,000K RAM, whereas the Macintosh made do with 128K.
Another problem was the lack of an internal hard disk drive. Jobs had called Joanna Hoffman a “Xerox bigot” when she fought for such a storage device. He insisted that the Macintosh have just one floppy disk drive. If you wanted to copy data, you could end up with a new form of tennis elbow from having to swap floppy disks in and out of the single drive. In addition, the Macintosh lacked a fan, another example of Jobs’s dogmatic stubbornness. Fans, he felt, detracted from the calm of a computer. This caused many component failures and earned the Macintosh the nickname “the beige toaster,” which did not enhance its popularity. It was so seductive that it had sold well enough for the first few months, but when people became more aware of its limitations, sales fell. As Hoffman later lamented, “The reality distortion field can serve as a spur, but then reality itself hits.”
At the end of 1984, with Lisa sales virtually nonexistent and Macintosh sales falling below ten thousand a month, Jobs made a shoddy, and atypical, decision out of desperation. He decided to take the inventory of unsold Lisas, graft on a Macintosh-emulation program, and sell them as a new product, the “Macintosh XL.” Since the Lisa had been discontinued and would not be restarted, it was an unusual instance of Jobs producing something that he did not believe in. “I was furious because the Mac XL wasn’t real,” said Hoffman. “It was just to blow the excess Lisas out the door. It sold well, and then we had to discontinue the horrible hoax, so I resigned.”
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.
Jobs and Sculley asked for other ideas, but the agency folks pushed back. “You guys didn’t want to run ‘1984’ last year,” one of them said. According to Sculley, Lee Clow added, “I will put my whole reputation, everything, on this commercial.” When the filmed version, done by Ridley Scott’s brother Tony, came in, the concept looked even worse. The mindless managers marching off the cliff were singing a funeral-paced version of the Snow White song “Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho,” and the dreary filmmaking made it even more depressing than the storyboards portended. “I can’t believe you’re going to insult businesspeople across America by running that,” Debi Coleman yelled at Jobs when she saw the ad. At the marketing meetings, she stood up to make her point about how much she hated it. “I literally put a resignation letter on his desk. I wrote it on my Mac. I thought it was an affront to corporate managers. We were just beginning to get a toehold with desktop publishing.”
Nevertheless Jobs and Sculley bent to the agency’s entreaties and ran the commercial during the Super Bowl. They went to the game together at Stanford Stadium with Sculley’s wife, Leezy (who couldn’t stand Jobs), and Jobs’s new girlfriend, Tina Redse. When the commercial was shown near the end of the fourth quarter of a dreary game, the fans watched on the overhead screen and had little reaction. Across the country, most of the response was negative. “It insulted the very people Apple was trying to reach,” the president of a market research firm told Fortune. Apple’s marketing manager suggested afterward that the company might want to buy an ad in the Wall Street Journal apologizing. Jay Chiat threatened that if Apple did that his agency would buy the facing page and apologize for the apology.
Jobs’s discomfort, with both the ad and the situation at Apple in general, was on display when he traveled to New York in January to do another round of one-on-one press interviews. Andy Cunningham, from Regis McKenna’s firm, was in charge of hand-holding and logistics at the Carlyle. When Jobs arrived, he told her that his suite needed to be completely redone, even though it was 10 p.m. and the meetings were to begin the next day. The piano was not in the right place; the strawberries were the wrong type. 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.”
One table featured software moguls, including Bill Gates and Mitch Kapor. Another had old friends such as Elizabeth Holmes, who brought as her date a woman dressed in a tuxedo. Andy Hertzfeld and Burrell Smith had rented tuxes and wore floppy tennis shoes, which made it all the more memorable when they danced to the Strauss waltzes played by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
Ella Fitzgerald provided the entertainment, as Bob Dylan had declined. She sang mainly from her standard repertoire, though occasionally tailoring a song like “The Girl from Ipanema” to be about the boy from Cupertino. When she asked for some requests, Jobs called out a few. She concluded with a slow rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Sculley came to the stage to propose a toast to “technology’s foremost visionary.” Wozniak also came up and presented Jobs with a framed copy of the Zaltair hoax from the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire, where the Apple II had been introduced. The venture capitalist Don Valentine marveled at the change in the decade since that time. “He went from being a Ho Chi Minh look-alike, who said never trust anyone over thirty, to a person who gives himself a fabulous thirtieth birthday with Ella Fitzgerald,” he said.
Many people had picked out special gifts for a person who was not easy to shop for. Debi Coleman, for example, found a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. But Jobs, in an act that was odd yet not out of character, left all of the gifts in a hotel room. Wozniak and some of the Apple veterans, who did not take to the goat cheese and salmon mousse that was served, met after the party and went out to eat at a Denny’s.
“It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing,” Jobs said wistfully to the writer David Sheff, who published a long and intimate interview in Playboy the month he turned thirty. “Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare.” The interview touched on many subjects, but Jobs’s most poignant ruminations were about growing old and facing the future:
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. . . .
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, thinking differently.
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.
When his leave was coming to an end, Hertzfeld made an appointment to have dinner with Jobs, and they walked from his office to an Italian restaurant a few blocks away. “I really want to return,” he told Jobs. “But things seem really messed up right now.” Jobs was vaguely annoyed and distracted, but Hertzfeld plunged ahead. “The software team is completely demoralized and has hardly done a thing for months, and Burrell is so frustrated that he won’t last to the end of the year.”
At that point Jobs cut him off. “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” he said. “The Macintosh team is doing great, and I’m having the best time of my life right now. You’re just completely out of touch.” His stare was withering, but he also tried to look amused at Hertzfeld’s assessment.
“If you really believe that, I don’t think there’s any way that I can come back,” Hertzfeld replied glumly. “The Mac team that I want to come back to doesn’t even exist anymore.”
“The Mac team had to grow up, and so do you,” Jobs replied. “I want you to come back, but if you don’t want to, that’s up to you. You don’t matter as much as you think you do, anyway.”
Hertzfeld didn’t come back.
By early 1985 Burrell Smith was also ready to leave. He had worried that it would be hard to quit if Jobs tried to talk him out of it; the reality distortion field was usually too strong for him to resist. So he plotted with Hertzfeld how he could break free of it. “I’ve got it!” he told Hertzfeld one day. “I know the perfect way to quit that will nullify the reality distortion field. I’ll just walk into Steve’s office, pull down my pants, and urinate on his desk. What could he say to that? It’s guaranteed to work.” The betting on the Mac team was that even brave Burrell Smith would not have the gumption to do that. When he finally decided he had to make his break, around the time of Jobs’s birthday bash, he made an appointment to see Jobs. He was surprised to find Jobs smiling broadly when he walked in. “Are you gonna do it? Are you really gonna do it?” Jobs asked. He had heard about the plan.
Smith looked at him. “Do I have to? I’ll do it if I have to.” Jobs gave him a look, and Smith decided it wasn’t necessary. So he resigned less dramatically and walked out on good terms.
He was quickly followed by another of the great Macintosh engineers, Bruce Horn. When Horn went in to say good-bye, Jobs told him, “Everything that’s wrong with the Mac is your fault.”
Horn responded, “Well, actually, Steve, a lot of things that are right with the Mac are my fault, and I had to fight like crazy to get those things in.”
“You’re right,” admitted Jobs. “I’ll give you 15,000 shares to stay.” When Horn declined the offer, Jobs showed his warmer side. “Well, give me a hug,” he said. And so they hugged.
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 Jobs was not appreciative of the Apple II, which remained the cash cow of the company and accounted for 70% of its sales at Christmas 1984. “People in the Apple II group were being treated as very unimportant by the rest of the company,” he later said. “This was despite the fact that the Apple II was by far the largest-selling product in our company for ages, and would be for years to come.” He even roused himself to do something out of character; he picked up the phone one day and called Sculley, berating him for lavishing so much attention on Jobs and the Macintosh division.
Frustrated, Wozniak decided to leave quietly to start a new company that would make a universal remote control device he had invented. It would control your television, stereo, and other electronic devices with a simple set of buttons that you could easily program. He informed the head of engineering at the Apple II division, but he didn’t feel he was important enough to go out of channels and tell Jobs or Markkula. So Jobs first heard about it when the news leaked in the Wall Street Journal. In his earnest way, Wozniak had openly answered the reporter’s questions when he called. Yes, he said, he felt that Apple had been giving short shrift to the Apple II division. “Apple’s direction has been horrendously wrong for five years,” he said.
Less than two weeks later Wozniak and Jobs traveled together to the White House, where Ronald Reagan presented them with the first National Medal of Technology. The president quoted what President Rutherford Hayes had said when first shown a telephone—“An amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one?”—and then quipped, “I thought at the time that he might be mistaken.” Because of the awkward situation surrounding Wozniak’s departure, Apple did not throw a celebratory dinner. So Jobs and Wozniak went for a walk afterward and ate at a sandwich shop. They chatted amiably, Wozniak recalled, and avoided any discussion of their disagreements.
Wozniak wanted to make the parting amicable. It was his style. So he agreed to stay on as a part-time Apple employee at a $20,000 salary and represent the company at events and trade shows. That could have been a graceful way to drift apart. But Jobs could not leave well enough alone. One Saturday, a few weeks after they had visited Washington together, Jobs went to the new Palo Alto studios of Hartmut Esslinger, whose company frogdesign had moved there to handle its design work for Apple. There he happened to see sketches that the firm had made for Wozniak’s new remote control device, and he flew into a rage. Apple had a clause in its contract that gave it the right to bar frogdesign from working on other computer-related projects, and Jobs invoked it. “I informed them,” he recalled, “that working with Woz wouldn’t be acceptable to us.”
When the Wall Street Journal heard what happened, it got in touch with Wozniak, who, as usual, was open and honest. He said that Jobs was punishing him. “Steve Jobs has a hate for me, probably because of the things I said about Apple,” he told the reporter. Jobs’s action was remarkably petty, but it was also partly caused by the fact that he understood, in ways that others did not, that the look and style of a product served to brand it. A device that had Wozniak’s name on it and used the same design language as Apple’s products might be mistaken for something that Apple had produced. “It’s not personal,” Jobs told the newspaper, explaining that he wanted to make sure that Wozniak’s remote wouldn’t look like something made by Apple. “We don’t want to see our design language used on other products. Woz has to find his own resources. He can’t leverage off Apple’s resources; we can’t treat him specially.”
Jobs volunteered to pay for the work that frogdesign had already done for Wozniak, but even so the executives at the firm were taken aback. When Jobs demanded that they send him the drawings done for Wozniak or destroy them, they refused. Jobs had to send them a letter invoking Apple’s contractual right. Herbert Pfeifer, the design director of the firm, risked Jobs’s wrath by publicly dismissing his claim that the dispute with Wozniak was not personal. “It’s a power play,” Pfeifer told the Journal. “They have personal problems between them.”
Hertzfeld was outraged when he heard what Jobs had done. He lived about twelve blocks from Jobs, who sometimes would drop by on his walks. “I got so furious about the Wozniak remote episode that when Steve next came over, I wouldn’t let him in the house,” Hertzfeld recalled. “He knew he was wrong, but he tried to rationalize, and maybe in his distorted reality he was able to.” Wozniak, always a teddy bear even when annoyed, hired another design firm and even agreed to stay on Apple’s retainer as a spokesman.
Showdown, Spring 1985
There were many reasons for the rift between Jobs and Sculley in the spring of 1985. Some were merely business disagreements, such as Sculley’s attempt to maximize profits by keeping the Macintosh price high when Jobs wanted to make it more affordable. Others were weirdly psychological and stemmed from the torrid and unlikely infatuation they initially had with each other. Sculley had painfully craved Jobs’s affection, Jobs had eagerly sought a father figure and mentor, and when the ardor began to cool there was an emotional backwash. But at its core, the growing breach had two fundamental causes, one on each side.
For Jobs, the problem was that Sculley never became a product person. He didn’t make the effort, or show the capacity, to understand the fine points of what they were making. On the contrary, he found Jobs’s passion for tiny technical tweaks and design details to be obsessive and counterproductive. He had spent his career selling sodas and snacks whose recipes were largely irrelevant to him. He wasn’t naturally passionate about products, which was among the most damning sins that Jobs could imagine. “I tried to educate him about the details of engineering,” Jobs recalled, “but he had no idea how products are created, and after a while it just turned into arguments. But I learned that my perspective was right. Products are everything.” He came to see Sculley as clueless, and his contempt was exacerbated by Sculley’s hunger for his affection and delusions that they were very similar.
For Sculley, the problem was that Jobs, when he was no longer in courtship or manipulative mode, was frequently obnoxious, rude, selfish, and nasty to other people. He found Jobs’s boorish behavior as despicable as Jobs found Sculley’s lack of passion for product details. Sculley was kind, caring, and polite to a fault. At one point they were planning to meet with Xerox’s vice chair Bill Glavin, and Sculley begged Jobs to behave. But as soon as they sat down, Jobs told Glavin, “You guys don’t have any clue what you’re doing,” and the meeting broke up. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help myself,” Jobs told Sculley. It was one of many such cases. As Atari’s Al Alcorn later observed, “Sculley believed in keeping people happy and worrying about relationships. Steve didn’t give a shit about that. But he did care about the product in a way that Sculley never could, and he was able to avoid having too many bozos working at Apple by insulting anyone who wasn’t an A player.”
The board became increasingly alarmed at the turmoil, and in early 1985 Arthur Rock and some other disgruntled directors delivered a stern lecture to both. They told Sculley that he was supposed to be running the company, and he should start doing so with more authority and less eagerness to be pals with Jobs. They told Jobs that he was supposed to be fixing the mess at the Macintosh division and not telling other divisions how to do their job. Afterward Jobs retreated to his office and typed on his Macintosh, “I will not criticize the rest of the organization, I will not criticize the rest of the organization . . .”
As the Macintosh continued to disappoint—sales in March 1985 were only 10% of the budget forecast—Jobs holed up in his office fuming or wandered the halls berating everyone else for the problems. His mood swings became worse, and so did his abuse of those around him. Middle-level managers began to rise up against him. The marketing chief Mike Murray sought a private meeting with Sculley at an industry conference. As they were going up to Sculley’s hotel room, Jobs spotted them and asked to come along. Murray asked him not to. He told Sculley that Jobs was wreaking havoc and had to be removed from managing the Macintosh division. Sculley replied that he was not yet resigned to having a showdown with Jobs. Murray later sent a memo directly to Jobs criticizing the way he treated colleagues and denouncing “management by character assassination.”
For a few weeks it seemed as if there might be a solution to the turmoil. Jobs became fascinated by a flat-screen technology developed by a firm near Palo Alto called Woodside Design, run by an eccentric engineer named Steve Kitchen. He also was impressed by another startup that made a touchscreen display that could be controlled by your finger, so you didn’t need a mouse. Together these might help fulfill Jobs’s vision of creating a “Mac in a book.” On a walk with Kitchen, Jobs spotted a building in nearby Menlo Park and declared that they should open a skunkworks facility to work on these ideas. It could be called AppleLabs and Jobs could run it, going back to the joy of having a small team and developing a great new product.
Sculley was thrilled by the possibility. It would solve most of his management issues, moving Jobs back to what he did best and getting rid of his disruptive presence in Cupertino. Sculley also had a candidate to replace Jobs as manager of the Macintosh division: Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple’s chief in France, who had suffered through Jobs’s visit there. Gassée flew to Cupertino and said he would take the job if he got a guarantee that he would run the division rather than work under Jobs. One of the board members, Phil Schlein of Macy’s, tried to convince Jobs that he would be better off thinking up new products and inspiring a passionate little team.
But after some reflection, Jobs decided that was not the path he wanted. He declined to cede control to Gassée, who wisely went back to Paris to avoid the power clash that was becoming inevitable. For the rest of the spring, Jobs vacillated. There were times when he wanted to assert himself as a corporate manager, even writing a memo urging cost savings by eliminating free beverages and first-class air travel, and other times when he agreed with those who were encouraging him to go off and run a new AppleLabs R&D group.
In March Murray let loose with another memo that he marked “Do not circulate” but gave to multiple colleagues. “In my three years at Apple, I’ve never observed so much confusion, fear, and dysfunction as in the past 90 days,” he began. “We are perceived by the rank and file as a boat without a rudder, drifting away into foggy oblivion.” Murray had been on both sides of the fence; at times he conspired with Jobs to undermine Sculley, but in this memo he laid the blame on Jobs. “Whether the cause of or because of the dysfunction, Steve Jobs now controls a seemingly impenetrable power base.”
At the end of that month, Sculley finally worked up the nerve to tell Jobs that he should give up running the Macintosh division. He walked over to Jobs’s office one evening and brought the human resources manager, Jay Elliot, to make the confrontation more formal. “There is no one who admires your brilliance and vision more than I do,” Sculley began. He had uttered such flatteries before, but this time it was clear that there would be a brutal “but” punctuating the thought. And there was. “But this is really not going to work,” he declared. The flatteries punctured by “buts” continued. “We have developed a great friendship with each other,” he said, “but I have lost confidence in your ability to run the Macintosh division.” He also berated Jobs for badmouthing him as a bozo behind his back.
Jobs looked stunned and countered with an odd challenge, that Sculley should help and coach him more: “You’ve got to spend more time with me.” Then he lashed back. He told Sculley he knew nothing about computers, was doing a terrible job running the company, and had disappointed Jobs ever since coming to Apple. Then he began to cry. Sculley sat there biting his fingernails.
“I’m going to bring this up with the board,” Sculley declared. “I’m going to recommend that you step down from your operating position of running the Macintosh division. I want you to know that.” He urged Jobs not to resist and to agree instead to work on developing new technologies and products.
Jobs jumped from his seat and turned his intense stare on Sculley. “I don’t believe you’re going to do that,” he said. “If you do that, you’re going to destroy the company.”
Over the next few weeks Jobs’s behavior fluctuated wildly. At one moment he would be talking about going off to run AppleLabs, but in the next moment he would be enlisting support to have Sculley ousted. He would reach out to Sculley, then lash out at him behind his back, sometimes on the same night. One night at 9 he called Apple’s general counsel Al Eisenstat to say he was losing confidence in Sculley and needed his help convincing the board to fire him; at 11 the same night, he phoned Sculley to say, “You’re terrific, and I just want you to know I love working with you.”
At the board meeting on April 11, Sculley officially reported that he wanted to ask Jobs to step down as the head of the Macintosh division and focus instead on new product development. Arthur Rock, the most crusty and independent of the board members, then spoke. He was fed up with both of them: with Sculley for not having the guts to take command over the past year, and with Jobs for “acting like a petulant brat.” The board needed to get this dispute behind them, and to do so it should meet privately with each of them.
Sculley left the room so that Jobs could present first. Jobs insisted that Sculley was the problem because he had no understanding of computers. Rock responded by berating Jobs. In his growling voice, he said that Jobs had been behaving foolishly for a year and had no right to be managing a division. Even Jobs’s strongest supporter, Phil Schlein, tried to talk him into stepping aside gracefully to run a research lab for the company.
When it was Sculley’s turn to meet privately with the board, he gave an ultimatum: “You can back me, and then I take responsibility for running the company, or we can do nothing, and you’re going to have to find yourselves a new CEO.” If given the authority, he said, he would not move abruptly, but would ease Jobs into the new role over the next few months. The board unanimously sided with Sculley. He was given the authority to remove Jobs whenever he felt the timing was right. As Jobs waited outside the boardroom, knowing full well that he was losing, he saw Del Yocam, a longtime colleague, and hugged him.
After the board made its decision, Sculley tried to be conciliatory. Jobs asked that the transition occur slowly, over the next few months, and Sculley agreed. Later that evening Sculley’s executive assistant, Nanette Buckhout, called Jobs to see how he was doing. He was still in his office, shell-shocked. Sculley had already left, and Jobs came over to talk to her. Once again he began oscillating wildly in his attitude toward Sculley. “Why did John do this to me?” he said. “He betrayed me.” Then he swung the other way. Perhaps he should take some time away to work on restoring his relationship with Sculley, he said. “John’s friendship is more important than anything else, and I think maybe that’s what I should do, concentrate on our friendship.”
Plotting a Coup
Jobs was not good at taking no for an answer. He went to Sculley’s office in early May 1985 and asked for more time to show that he could manage the Macintosh division. He would prove himself as an operations guy, he promised. Sculley didn’t back down. Jobs next tried a direct challenge: He asked Sculley to resign. “I think you really lost your stride,” Jobs told him. “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. Sculley refused.
That night Jobs took his Macintosh team out to dinner at Nina’s Café in Woodside. Jean-Louis Gassée was in town because Sculley wanted him to prepare to take over the Macintosh division, and Jobs invited him to join them. Belleville proposed a toast “to those of us who really understand what the world according to Steve Jobs is all about.” That phrase—“the world according to Steve”—had been used dismissively by others at Apple who belittled the reality warp he created. After the others left, Belleville sat with Jobs in his Mercedes and urged him to organize a battle to the death with Sculley.
Months earlier, Apple had gotten the right to export computers to China, and Jobs had been invited to sign a deal in the Great Hall of the People over the 1985 Memorial Day weekend. He had told Sculley, who decided he wanted to go himself, which was just fine with Jobs. Jobs decided to use Sculley’s absence to execute his coup. Throughout the week leading up to Memorial Day, he took a lot of people on walks to share his plans. “I’m going to launch a coup while John is in China,” he told Mike Murray.
Seven Days in May
Thursday, May 23: At his regular Thursday meeting with his top lieutenants in the Macintosh division, Jobs told his inner circle about his plan to oust Sculley. He also confided in the corporate human resources director, Jay Elliot, who told him bluntly that the proposed rebellion wouldn’t work. Elliot had talked to some board members and urged them to stand up for Jobs, but he discovered that most of the board was with Sculley, as were most members of Apple’s senior staff. Yet Jobs barreled ahead. He even revealed his plans to Gassée on a walk around the parking lot, despite the fact that Gassée had come from Paris to take his job. “I made the mistake of telling Gassée,” Jobs wryly conceded years later.
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.”
Suddenly the frozen onlookers began to squirm. Del Yocam had to go first. He said he loved Jobs, wanted him to continue to play some role in the company, but he worked up the nerve to conclude, with Jobs staring at him, that he “respected” Sculley and would support him to run the company. Eisenstat faced Jobs directly and said much the same thing: He liked Jobs but was supporting Sculley. Regis McKenna, who sat in on senior staff meetings as an outside consultant, was more direct. He looked at Jobs and told him he was not yet ready to run the company, something he had told him before. Others sided with Sculley as well. For Bill Campbell, it was particularly tough. He was fond of Jobs and didn’t particularly like Sculley. His voice quavered a bit as he told Jobs he had decided to support Sculley, and he urged the two of them to work it out and find some role for Jobs to play in the company. “You can’t let Steve leave this company,” he told Sculley.
Jobs looked shattered. “I guess I know where things stand,” he said, and bolted out of the room. No one followed.
He went back to his office, gathered his longtime loyalists on the Macintosh staff, and started to cry. He would have to leave Apple, he said. As he started to walk out the door, Debi Coleman restrained him. She and the others urged him to settle down and not do anything hasty. He should take the weekend to regroup. Perhaps there was a way to prevent the company from being torn apart.
Sculley was devastated by his victory. Like a wounded warrior, he retreated to Eisenstat’s office and asked the corporate counsel to go for a ride. When they got into Eisenstat’s Porsche, Sculley lamented, “I don’t know whether I can go through with this.” When Eisenstat asked what he meant, Sculley responded, “I think I’m going to resign.”
“You can’t,” Eisenstat protested. “Apple will fall apart.”
“I’m going to resign,” Sculley declared. “I don’t think I’m right for the company.”
“I think you’re copping out,” Eisenstat replied. “You’ve got to stand up to him.” Then he drove Sculley home.
Sculley’s wife was surprised to see him back in the middle of the day. “I’ve failed,” he said to her forlornly. She was a volatile woman who had never liked Jobs or appreciated her husband’s infatuation with him. So when she heard what had happened, she jumped into her car and sped over to Jobs’s office. Informed that he had gone to the Good Earth restaurant, she marched over there and confronted him in the parking lot as he was coming out with loyalists on his Macintosh team.
“Steve, can I talk to you?” she said. His jaw dropped. “Do you have any idea what a privilege it has been even to know someone as fine as John Sculley?” she demanded. He averted his gaze. “Can’t you look me in the eyes when I’m talking to you?” she asked. But when Jobs did so—giving her his practiced, unblinking stare—she recoiled. “Never mind, don’t look at me,” she said. “When I look into most people’s eyes, I see a soul. When I look into your eyes, I see a bottomless pit, an empty hole, a dead zone.” Then she walked away.
Saturday, May 25: Mike Murray drove to Jobs’s house in Woodside to offer some advice: He should consider accepting the role of being a new product visionary, starting AppleLabs, and getting away from headquarters. Jobs seemed willing to consider it. But first he would have to restore peace with Sculley. So he picked up the telephone and surprised Sculley with an olive branch. Could they meet the following afternoon, Jobs asked, and take a walk together in the hills above Stanford University. They had walked there in the past, in happier times, and maybe on such a walk they could work things out.
Jobs did not know that Sculley had told Eisenstat he wanted to quit, but by then it didn’t matter. Overnight, he had changed his mind and decided to stay. Despite the blowup the day before, he was still eager for Jobs to like him. So he agreed to meet the next afternoon.
If Jobs was prepping for conciliation, it didn’t show in the choice of movie he wanted to see with Murray that night. He picked Patton, the epic of the never-surrender general. But he had lent his copy of the tape to his father, who had once ferried troops for the general, so he drove to his childhood home with Murray to retrieve it. His parents weren’t there, and he didn’t have a key. They walked around the back, checked for unlocked doors or windows, and finally gave up. The video store didn’t have a copy of Patton in stock, so in the end he had to settle for watching the 1983 film adaptation of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal.
Sunday, May 26: As planned, Jobs and Sculley met in back of the Stanford campus on Sunday afternoon and walked for several hours amid the rolling hills and horse pastures. Jobs reiterated his plea that he should have an operational role at Apple. This time Sculley stood firm. It won’t work, he kept saying. Sculley urged him to take the role of being a product visionary with a lab of his own, but Jobs rejected this as making him into a mere “figurehead.” Defying all connection to reality, he countered with the proposal that Sculley give up control of the entire company to him. “Why don’t you become chairman and I’ll become president and chief executive officer?” he suggested. Sculley was struck by how earnest he seemed.
“Steve, that doesn’t make any sense,” Sculley replied. Jobs then proposed that they split the duties of running the company, with him handling the product side and Sculley handling marketing and business. But the board had not only emboldened Sculley, it had ordered him to bring Jobs to heel. “One person has got to run the company,” he replied. “I’ve got the support and you don’t.”
On his way home, Jobs stopped at Mike Markkula’s house. He wasn’t there, so Jobs left a message asking him to come to dinner the following evening. He would also invite the core of loyalists from his Macintosh team. He hoped that they could persuade Markkula of the folly of siding with Sculley.
Monday, May 27: Memorial Day was sunny and warm. The Macintosh team loyalists—Debi Coleman, Mike Murray, Susan Barnes, and Bob Belleville—got to Jobs’s Woodside home an hour before the scheduled dinner so they could plot strategy. Sitting on the patio as the sun set, Coleman told Jobs that he should accept Sculley’s offer to be a product visionary and help start up AppleLabs. Of all the inner circle, Coleman was the most willing to be realistic. In the new organization plan, Sculley had tapped her to run the manufacturing division because he knew that her loyalty was to Apple and not just to Jobs. Some of the others were more hawkish. They wanted to urge Markkula to support a reorganization plan that put Jobs in charge.
When Markkula showed up, he agreed to listen with one proviso: Jobs had to keep quiet. “I seriously wanted to hear the thoughts of the Macintosh team, not watch Jobs enlist them in a rebellion,” he recalled. As it turned cooler, they went inside the sparsely furnished mansion and sat by a fireplace. Instead of letting it turn into a gripe session, Markkula made them focus on very specific management issues, such as what had caused the problem in producing the FileServer software and why the Macintosh distribution system had not responded well to the change in demand. When they were finished, Markkula bluntly declined to back Jobs. “I said I wouldn’t support his plan, and that was the end of that,” Markkula recalled. “Sculley was the boss. They were mad and emotional and putting together a revolt, but that’s not how you do things.”
Tuesday, May 28: His ire stoked by hearing from Markkula that Jobs had spent the previous evening trying to subvert him, Sculley walked over to Jobs’s office on Tuesday morning. He had talked to the board, he said, and he had its support. He wanted Jobs out. Then he drove to Markkula’s house, where he gave a presentation of his reorganization plans. Markkula asked detailed questions, and at the end he gave Sculley his blessing. When he got back to his office, Sculley called the other members of the board, just to make sure he still had their backing. He did.
At that point he called Jobs to make sure he understood. The board had given final approval of his reorganization plan, which would proceed that week. Gassée would take over control of Jobs’s beloved Macintosh as well as other products, and there was no other division for Jobs to run. Sculley was still somewhat conciliatory. He told Jobs that he could stay on with the title of board chairman and be a product visionary with no operational duties. But by this point, even the idea of starting a skunkworks such as AppleLabs was no longer on the table.
It finally sank in. Jobs realized there was no appeal, no way to warp the reality. He broke down in tears and started making phone calls—to Bill Campbell, Jay Elliot, Mike Murray, and others. Murray’s wife, Joyce, was on an overseas call when Jobs phoned, and the operator broke in saying it was an emergency. It better be important, she told the operator. “It is,” she heard Jobs say. When her husband got on the phone, Jobs was crying. “It’s over,” he said. Then he hung up.
Murray was worried that Jobs was so despondent he might do something rash, so he called back. There was no answer, so he drove to Woodside. No one came to the door when he knocked, so he went around back and climbed up some exterior steps and looked in the bedroom. Jobs was lying there on a mattress in his unfurnished room. He let Murray in and they talked until almost dawn.
Wednesday, May 29: Jobs finally got hold of a tape of Patton, which he watched Wednesday evening, but Murray prevented him from getting stoked up for another battle. Instead he urged Jobs to come in on Friday for Sculley’s announcement of the reorganization plan. There was no option left other than to play the good soldier rather than the renegade commander.
Like a Rolling Stone
Jobs slipped quietly into the back row of the auditorium to listen to Sculley explain to the troops the new order of battle. There were a lot of sideways glances, but few people acknowledged him and none came over to provide public displays of affection. He stared without blinking at Sculley, who would remember “Steve’s look of contempt” years later. “It’s unyielding,” Sculley recalled, “like an X-ray boring inside your bones, down to where you’re soft and destructibly m...