Jobs did not come into the office regularly, but he was on the phone to Amelio often. Once he had succeeded in making sure that Tevanian, Rubinstein, and others he trusted were given top positions, he turned his
focus onto the sprawling product line. One of his pet peeves was Newton, the handheld personal digital assistant that boasted handwriting recognition capability. It was not quite as bad as the jokes and Doonesbury comic strip
made it seem, but Jobs hated it. He disdained the idea of having a stylus or pen for writing on a screen. “God gave us ten styluses,” he would say, waving
his fingers. “Let’s not invent another.” In addition, he viewed Newton as John Sculley’s one major innovation, his pet project. That alone doomed it in Jobs’s eyes.
“You ought to kill Newton,” he told Amelio one day by phone.
It was a suggestion out of the blue, and Amelio pushed back. “What do you mean, kill it?” he said. “Steve, do you have any idea how expensive that would be?”
“Shut it down, write it off, get rid of it,” said Jobs. “It doesn’t matter what it costs. People will cheer you if you got rid of it.”
“I’ve looked into Newton and it’s going to be a moneymaker,” Amelio declared. “I don’t support getting rid of it.” By May, however, he announced
plans to spin off the Newton division, the beginning of its yearlong stutter-step march to the grave.
Tevanian and Rubinstein would come by Jobs’s house to keep him informed, and soon much of Silicon Valley knew that Jobs was quietly wresting power from Amelio. It was not so much a Machiavellian power play as it was Jobs
being Jobs. Wanting control was ingrained in his nature. Louise Kehoe, the Financial Times reporter who had foreseen this when she questioned Jobs and Amelio at the December announcement, was the first with the story. “Mr. Jobs has become the power behind the throne,” she reported at the end of
February. “He is said to be directing decisions on which parts of Apple’s operations should be cut. Mr. Jobs has urged a number of former Apple colleagues to return to the company, hinting strongly that he plans to take
charge, they said. According to one of Mr. Jobs’ confidantes, he has decided that Mr. Amelio and his appointees are unlikely to succeed in reviving Apple, and he is intent
them to ensure
the survival of ‘
Jobs’s pep talk could have been a redeeming finale to Amelio’s frightening performance. Unfortunately Amelio came back onstage and resumed his ramblings for another hour. Finally, more than three hours after the show
began, Amelio brought it to a close by calling Jobs back onstage and then, in a surprise, bringing up Steve Wozniak as well. Again there was pandemonium. But Jobs was clearly annoyed. He avoided engaging in a triumphant trio
scene, arms in the air. Instead he slowly edged offstage. “He ruthlessly ruined the closing moment I had planned,” Amelio later complained. “His own
feelings were more important than good press for Apple.” It was only seven days into the new year for Apple, and already it was clear that the center would not hold.
Jobs immediately put people he trusted into the top ranks at Apple. “I wanted to make sure the really good people who came in from NeXT didn’t get knifed
in the back by the less competent people who were then in senior jobs at Apple,” he recalled. Ellen Hancock, who had favored choosing Sun’s Solaris
over NeXT, was on the top of his bozo list, especially when she continued to want to use the kernel of Solaris in the new Apple operating system. In
response to a reporter’s question about the role Jobs would play in making that decision, she answered curtly, “None.” She was wrong. Jobs’s first move was to make sure that two of his friends from NeXT took over her duties.
To head software engineering, he tapped his buddy Avie Tevanian. To run the hardware side, he called on Jon Rubinstein, who had done the same at NeXT
back when it had a hardware division. Rubinstein was vacationing on the Isle of Skye when Jobs called him. “Apple needs some help,” he said. “Do you want
to come aboard?” Rubinstein did. He got back in time to attend Macworld and see Amelio bomb onstage. Things were worse than he expected. He and
Tevanian would exchange glances at meetings as if they had stumbled into an insane asylum, with people making deluded assertions
sat at the end
of the table in a
Jobs was, in fact, trotted out for Macworld right at the beginning of January, and this reaffirmed his opinion that Amelio was a bozo. Close to four thousand of the faithful fought for seats in the ballroom of the San Francisco Marriott to
hear Amelio’s keynote address. He was introduced by the actor Jeff Goldblum. “I play an expert in chaos theory in The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” he said. “I figure that will qualify me to speak at an Apple event.” He
then turned it over to Amelio, who came onstage wearing a flashy sports jacket and a banded-collar shirt buttoned tight at the neck, “looking like a
Vegas comic,” the Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton noted, or in the words of the technology writer Michael Malone, “looking exactly like your newly divorced uncle on his first date.”
The bigger problem was that Amelio had gone on vacation, gotten into a nasty tussle with his speechwriters, and refused to rehearse. When Jobs arrived
backstage, he was upset by the chaos, and he seethed as Amelio stood on the podium bumbling through a disjointed and endless presentation. Amelio was
unfamiliar with the talking points that popped up on his teleprompter and soon was trying to wing his presentation. Repeatedly he lost his train of
thought. After more than an hour, the audience was aghast. There were a few welcome breaks, such as when he brought out the singer Peter Gabriel to
demonstrate a new music program. He also pointed out Muhammad Ali in the first row; the champ was supposed to come onstage to promote a website
about Parkinson’s disease, but Amelio never invited him up or explained why he was there.
Amelio rambled for more than two hours before he finally called onstage the person everyone was waiting to cheer. “Jobs, exuding confidence, style, and
sheer magnetism, was the antithesis of the fumbling Amelio as he strode onstage,” Carlton wrote. “The return of Elvis would not have provoked a
bigger sensation.” The crowd jumped to its feet and gave him a raucous ovation for more than a minute. The wilderness decade was over. Finally Jobs
waved for silence and cut to the heart of the challenge. “We’ve got to get the spark back,” he said. “The Mac didn’t progress much in ten years. So Windows
caught up. So we
have to come up
with an OS that’
s even better.”
When the hype died down, the reaction to the NeXT computer was muted, especially since it was not yet commercially available. Bill Joy, the brilliant
and wry chief scientist at rival Sun Microsystems, called it “the first Yuppie workstation,” which was not an unalloyed compliment. Bill Gates, as might be expected, continued to be publicly dismissive. “Frankly, I’m disappointed,”
he told the Wall Street Journal. “Back in 1981, we were truly excited by the Macintosh when Steve showed it to us, because when you put it side-by-side with another computer, it was unlike anything anybody had ever seen
before.” The NeXT machine was not like that. “In the grand scope of things, most of these features are truly trivial.” He said that Microsoft would
continue its plans not to write software for the NeXT. Right after the announcement event, Gates wrote a parody email to his staff. “All reality has
been completely suspended,” it began. Looking back at it, Gates laughs that it may have been “the best email I ever wrote.”
When the NeXT computer finally went on sale in mid-1989, the factory was primed to churn out ten thousand units a month. As it turned out, sales were
about four hundred a month. The beautiful factory robots, so nicely painted, remained mostly idle, and NeXT continued to hemorrhage cash.
“It’s rare that you see an artist in his thirties or forties able to really contribute something amazing,” Jobs declared as he was about to turn thirty.
That held true for Jobs in his thirties, during the decade that began with his ouster from Apple in 1985. But after turning forty in 1995, he flourished. Toy
Story was released that year, and the following year Apple’s purchase of NeXT offered him reentry into the company he had founded. In returning to Apple, Jobs would show that even people over forty could be great innovators.
Having transformed personal computers in his twenties, he would now help to do the same for music players, the recording industry’s business model,
“Well,” he concluded, “I don’t think ‘mercurial’ is so bad after all.” After the applause, he used the quotations book to make a more subtle point, about his reality distortion field. The quote he chose was from Lewis Carroll’s Through
the Looking Glass. After Alice laments that no matter how hard she tries she can’t believe impossible things, the White Queen retorts, “Why, sometimes I’ve
believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Especially from the front rows, there was a roar of knowing laughter.
All of the good cheer served to sugarcoat, or distract attention from, the bad news. When it came time to announce the price of the new machine, Jobs did what he would often do in product demonstrations: reel off the features,
describe them as being “worth thousands and thousands of dollars,” and get the audience to imagine how expensive it really should be. Then he announced what he hoped would seem like a low price: “We’re going to be
charging higher education a single price of $6,500.” From the faithful, there was scattered applause. But his panel of academic advisors had long pushed to keep the price to between $2,000 and $3,000, and they thought that Jobs
had promised to do so. Some of them were appalled. This was especially true once they discovered that the optional printer would cost another $2,000,
and the slowness of the optical disk would make the purchase of a $2,500 external hard disk advisable.
There was another disappointment that he tried to downplay: “Early next year, we will have our 0.9 release, which is for software developers and aggressive end users.” There was a bit of nervous laughter. What he was
saying was that the real release of the machine and its software, known as the 1.0 release, would not actually be happening in early 1989. In fact he didn’t
set a hard date. He merely suggested it would be sometime in the second quarter of that year. At the first NeXT retreat back in late 1985, he had
refused to budge, despite Joanna Hoffman’s pushback, from his commitment to have the machine finished in early 1987.
Now it was
clear it would
be more than
two years later.
But Cao Cao said to Zhang Liao, “He has rejected all I gave him, so bribes were powerless with him in whatever shape. I have the GREatest respect for such as him. He has not yet gone far, and I will try to strengthen his attachment to me and make one appeal to sentiment. Ride after him and beg him to stop till I can come up and bid farewell and offer him a sum of money for his expenses and a fighting robe, that he may remember me kindly in after days.”
So Zhang Liao rode out quite alone. Cao Cao followed him leisurely with an escort of a score or so.
Now the steed that Guan Yu rode was Red Hare, and it was very fast. No one could have come up with him but that there was the ladies’ carriage to escort, and so Red Hare had to be held in and go slow. Suddenly Guan Yu heard a shout behind him, a voice crying, “Go slowly, Guan Yu！”
He turned and made out the person to be Zhang Liao. Ordering the pushers of the carriage to press on along the high road, he reined in his steed, held the GREen-dragon saber ready for a stroke, and waited for Zhang Liao to come up.
“Of course you have come to take me back, Zhang Liao？” said Guan Yu.
“No； the Prime Minister, seeing that you are going a long journey, wishes to see you on your way and told me to hasten forward and beg you to wait till he can come up. That is the only thing.”
“Seeing that he is coming along with mailed men, I shall fight to the very last,” said Guan Yu.
And he took up his position on a bridge where he waited the approach of the party, who advanced quickly. Four of Cao Cao’s generals, Xu Chu, Xu Huang, Yu Jin, and Li Dian, followed close. Seeing Guan Yu was ready to fight, Cao Cao ordered his escort to open out in two lines, and then it was seen they carried no arms. This relieved his mind, for it proved to Guan Yu they meant no attack.
“Why do you go in such haste, Guan Yu？” asked Cao Cao.
Guan Yu inclined his head but did not dismount, saying, “I informed you in writing that since my lord was in the North of Yellow River, I had to leave at once. I went to your palace again and again but was refused admittance. So I wrote a letter of farewell, sealed up the treasure, resigned my lordship seal, and left everything for you. I hope you recall the promise you once made me.”
Cao Cao replied, “My desire is to keep my troth with all people.
I cannot go back on my word. However,
you may find the journey expensive,
and therefore I have here prepared a sum of money to help you.”
Scrolling down, he said, “I think the third one is the one they mean: ‘Characterized by unpredictable changeableness of mood.’” There was a bit more laughter.
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.
No detail was too small. Jobs went over the invitation list and even the lunch menu (mineral water, croissants, cream cheese, bean sprouts). He picked out a video projection company and paid it $60,000 for help. And he hired the
postmodernist theater producer George Coates to stage the show. Coates and Jobs decided, not surprisingly, on an austere and radically simple stage look. The unveiling of the black perfect cube would occur on a starkly minimalist
stage setting with a black background, a table covered by a black cloth, a black veil draped over the computer, and a simple vase of flowers. Because
neither the hardware nor the operating system was actually ready, Jobs was urged to do a simulation. But he refused. Knowing it would be like walking a tightrope without a net, he decided to do the demonstration live.
More than three thousand people showed up at the event, lining up two hours before curtain time. They were not disappointed, at least by the show. Jobs
was onstage for three hours, and he again proved to be, in the words of Andrew Pollack of the New York Times, “the Andrew Lloyd Webber of
product introductions, a master of stage flair and special effects.” Wes Smith of the Chicago Tribune said the launch
was “to product
Vatican II was to
When they happened to meet in the hallway at a conference, Jobs started berating Gates for his refusal to do software for NeXT. “When you get a market, I will consider it,” Gates replied. Jobs got angry. “It was a screaming
battle, right in front of everybody,” recalled Adele Goldberg, the Xerox PARC engineer. Jobs insisted that NeXT was the next wave of computing. Gates, as
he often did, got more expressionless as Jobs got more heated. He finally just shook his head and walked away.
Beneath their personal rivalry—and occasional grudging respect—was their basic philosophical difference. Jobs believed in an end-to-end integration of hardware and software, which led him to build a machine that was not
compatible with others. Gates believed in, and profited from, a world in which different companies made machines that were compatible with one another; their hardware ran a standard operating system (Microsoft’s Windows) and
could all use the same software apps (such as Microsoft’s Word and Excel). “His product comes with an interesting feature called incompatibility,” Gates
told the Washington Post. “It doesn’t run any of the existing software. It’s a super-nice computer. I don’t think if I went out to design an incompatible computer I would have done as well as he did.”
At a forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1989, Jobs and Gates appeared sequentially, laying out their competing worldviews. Jobs spoke about how
new waves come along in the computer industry every few years. Macintosh had launched a revolutionary new approach with the graphical interface; now
NeXT was doing it with object-oriented programming tied to a powerful new machine based on an optical disk. Every major software vendor realized they
had to be part of this new wave, he said, “except Microsoft.” When Gates came up, he reiterated his belief that Jobs’s end-to-end control of the software and
the hardware was destined for failure, just as Apple had failed in competing against the Microsoft Windows standard. “The hardware market and the
software market are separate,” he said. When asked about the great design that could come from Jobs’s approach, Gates gestured to the NeXT prototype that was still
sitting onstage and
sneered, “If you want
black, I’ll get you
a can of paint.”
Gates and NeXTBill Gates was not a soul mate. Jobs had convinced him to produce software applications for the Macintosh, which had turned out to be hugely profitable for Microsoft. But Gates was one person who was resistant
to Jobs’s reality distortion field, and as a result he decided not to create software tailored for the NeXT platform. Gates went to California to get
periodic demonstrations, but each time he came away unimpressed. “The Macintosh was truly unique, but I personally don’t understand what is so unique about Steve’s new computer,” he told Fortune.
Part of the problem was that the rival titans were congenitally unable to be deferential to each other. When Gates made his first visit to NeXT’s Palo Alto
headquarters, in the summer of 1987, Jobs kept him waiting for a half hour in the lobby, even though Gates could see through the glass walls that Jobs was
walking around having casual conversations. “I’d gone down to NeXT and I had the Odwalla, the most expensive carrot juice, and I’d never seen tech
offices so lavish,” Gates recalled, shaking his head with just a hint of a smile. “And Steve comes a half hour late to the meeting.”
Jobs’s sales pitch, according to Gates, was simple. “We did the Mac together,” Jobs said. “How did that work for you? Very well. Now, we’re going to do this together and this is going to be great.”
But Gates was brutal to Jobs, just as Jobs could be to others. “This machine is crap,” he said. “The optical disk has too low latency, the fucking case is too
expensive. This thing is ridiculous.” He decided then, and reaffirmed on each subsequent visit, that it made no sense for Microsoft to divert resources from
other projects to develop applications for NeXT. Worse yet, he repeatedly said so publicly, which made others less likely to spend time developing
“Develop for it?
I’ll piss on it,”
he told InfoWorld.
The one phrase that was true was the one about Paul Jobs’s looking like someone in a Rockwell painting. And perhaps the last phrase, the one about
Jobs changing the world. Certainly Perot believed that. Like Sculley, he saw himself in Jobs. “Steve’s like me,” Perot told the Washington Post’s David Remnick. “We’re weird in the same way. We’re soul mates.”
sophisticated people see the hardware—it blew them away. Steve and his whole NeXT team are the darnedest bunch of perfectionists I’ve ever seen.”
Perot also traveled in rarefied social and business circles that complemented Jobs’s own. He took Jobs to a black-tie dinner dance in San Francisco that
Gordon and Ann Getty gave for King Juan Carlos I of Spain. When the king asked Perot whom he should meet, Perot immediately produced Jobs. They
were soon engaged in what Perot later described as “electric conversation,” with Jobs animatedly describing the next wave in computing. At the end the
king scribbled a note and handed it to Jobs. “What happened?” Perot asked. Jobs answered, “I sold him a computer.”
These and other stories were incorporated into the mythologized story of Jobs that Perot told wherever he went. At a briefing at the National Press Club
in Washington, he spun Jobs’s life story into a Texas-size yarn about a young man
so poor he couldn’t afford to go to college, working in his garage at night, playing with computer chips, which was his hobby, and his dad—who looks
like a character out of a Norman Rockwell painting—comes in one day and said, “Steve, either make something you can sell or go get a job.” Sixty days
later, in a wooden box that his dad made for him, the first Apple
computer was created.
And this high school
changed the world.