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.
the emotion as he built toward the present:
It is now 1984. It appears that IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer
IBM a run for its money. Dealers, after initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an
IBM-dominated and-controlled future and are turning back to Apple as the only force who
can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all, and is aiming its guns at its last obstacle to
industry control, Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire
information age? Was George Orwell right?
As he built to the climax, the audience went from murmuring to applauding to a frenzy of cheering
and chanting. But before they could answer the Orwell question, the auditorium went black and
the “1984” commercial appeared on the screen. When it was over, the entire audience was on its feet cheering.
With a flair for the dramatic, Jobs walked across the dark stage to a small table with a cloth bag on it.
“Now I’d like to show you Macintosh in person,” he said. He took out the computer, keyboard, and mouse,
hooked them together deftly, then pulled one of the new 3?-inch floppies from his shirt pocket.
The theme from Chariots of Fire began to play. Jobs held his breath for a moment, because the demo
had not worked well the night before. But this time it ran flawlessly. The word “MACINTOSH” scrolled
horizontally onscreen, then underneath it the words “Insanely great” appeared in script, as if being slowly
written by hand. Not used to such beautiful graphic displays, the audience quieted for a moment.
A few gasps could be heard. And then, in rapid succession, came a series of screen shots: Bill Atkinson’s
QuickDraw graphics package followed by displays of different fonts, documents, charts, drawings, a chess game,
a spreadsheet, and a
rendering of Steve Jobs
with a thought bubble
containing a Macintosh.
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?”
As chairman of the company, Jobs went onstage first to start the shareholders’ meeting. He
did so with his own form of an invocation. “I’d like to open the meeting,” he said, “with a
twenty-year-old poem by Dylan—that’s Bob Dylan.” He broke into a little smile, then looked
down to read from the second verse of “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” His voice was high-pitched
as he raced through the ten lines, ending with “For the loser now / Will be later to win /
For the times they are a-changin’.” That song was the anthem that kept the multimillionaire board
chairman in touch with his counterculture self-image. He had a bootleg copy of his favorite version,
which was from the live concert Dylan performed, with Joan Baez, on Halloween 1964
at Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall.
Sculley came onstage to report on the company’s earnings, and the audience started to become restless
as he droned on. Finally, he ended with a personal note. “The most important thing that has happened
to me in the last nine months at Apple has been a chance to develop a friendship with
Steve Jobs,” he said.
“For me, the rapport
we have developed
means an awful lot.”
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.
be its salvation!” Levy pushed back. Rolling Stone was actually good, he said, and he asked Jobs
if he had read it recently. Jobs said that he had, an article about MTV that was “a piece of shit.”
Levy replied that he had written that article. Jobs, to his credit, didn’t back away from the assessment.
Instead he turned philosophical as he talked about the Macintosh. We are constantly benefiting from
advances that went before us and taking things that people before us developed, he said. “It’s a
wonderful, ecstatic feeling to create something that puts it back in the pool
of human experience and knowledge.”
Levy’s story didn’t make it to the cover. But in the future, every major product launch that Jobs was involved
in—at NeXT, at Pixar, and years later when he returned to Apple—would end
up on the cover of either Time, Newsweek, or Business Week.
January 24, 1984
Most of all, Jobs fretted about his presentation. Sculley fancied himself a good writer,
so he suggested changes in Jobs’s script. Jobs recalled being slightly annoyed, but their
relationship was still in the phase when he was lathering on flattery and stroking Sculley’s ego.
“I think of you just like Woz and Markkula,” he told Sculley. “You’re like one of the founders
of the company.
They founded the company,
but you and I are
founding the future.”
Sculley lapped it up.
Jobs had asked Hertzfeld and the gang to prepare a special screen display for Sculley’s amusement.
“He’s really smart,” Jobs said. “You wouldn’t believe how smart he is.” The explanation that
Sculley might buy a lot of Macintoshes for Pepsi “sounded a little bit fishy to me,” Hertzfeld recalled,
but he and Susan Kare created a screen of Pepsi caps and cans that danced around with the Apple
logo. Hertzfeld was so excited he began waving his arms around during the demo, but Sculley seemed
underwhelmed. “He asked a few questions, but he didn’t seem all that interested,” Hertzfeld recalled.
He never ended up warming to Sculley. “He was incredibly phony, a complete poseur,” he later said.
“He pretended to be interested in technology, but he wasn’t. He was a marketing guy, and that is
what marketing guys are: paid poseurs.”
Matters came to a head when Jobs visited New York in March 1983 and was able to convert the
courtship into a blind and blinding romance. “I really think you’re the guy,” Jobs said as they walked
through Central Park. “I want you to come and work with me. I can learn so much from you.” Jobs,
who had cultivated father figures in the past, knew just how to play to Sculley’s ego and insecurities.
It worked. “I was smitten by him,” Sculley later admitted. “Steve was one of the brightest people
I’d ever met. I shared with him a passion for ideas.”
Sculley, who was interested in art history, steered them toward the Metropolitan Museum for a little
test of whether Jobs was really willing to learn from others. “I wanted to see how well he could take
coaching in a subject where he had no background,” he recalled. As they strolled through the Greek
and Roman antiquities, Sculley expounded on the difference between the Archaic sculpture of the sixth
century B.C. and the Periclean sculptures a century later. Jobs, who loved to pick up historical nuggets
he never learned in college, seemed to soak it in. “I gained a sense that I could be a teacher to a
brilliant student,” Sculley recalled. Once again he indulged the conceit that they were alike: “I saw
in him a mirror image of my younger self. I, too, was impatient, stubborn, arrogant, impetuous.
My mind exploded with ideas, often to the
exclusion of everything else.
I, too, was intolerant of
those who couldn’t live
up to my demands.”
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.”
shrieks that erupted. Instead of basking for a moment, it barreled ahead. “Unaccustomed as I am
to public speaking, I’d like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM
mainframe: Never trust a computer you can’t lift.” Once again the roar almost drowned out its
final lines. “Obviously, I can talk. But right now I’d like to sit back and listen. So it is with
considerable pride that I introduce a man who’s been like a father to me, Steve Jobs.”
Pandemonium erupted, with people in the crowd jumping up and down and pumping their fists
in a frenzy. Jobs nodded slowly, a tight-lipped but broad smile on his face, then looked down
and started to choke up. The ovation continued for five minutes.
After the Macintosh team returned to Bandley 3 that afternoon, a truck pulled into the parking
lot and Jobs had them all gather next to it. Inside were a hundred new Macintosh computers, each
personalized with a plaque. “Steve presented them one at a time to each team member, with a
handshake and a smile, as the rest of us stood around cheering,” Hertzfeld recalled. It had been a
grueling ride, and many egos had been bruised by Jobs’s obnoxious and rough management style.
But neither Raskin nor Wozniak nor Sculley nor anyone else at the company could have pulled off the
creation of the Macintosh. Nor would it likely have emerged from focus groups and committees.
On the day he unveiled the Macintosh, a reporter from Popular Science asked Jobs what type
of market research he had done. Jobs responded by scoffing, “Did Alexander
Graham Bell do any
before he invented
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.
ingredients. Another part of the recipe was media coverage. Jobs found ways to ignite
blasts of publicity that were so powerful the frenzy would feed on itself, like a chain
reaction. It was a phenomenon that he would be able to replicate whenever there was a
big product launch, from the Macintosh in 1984 to the iPad in 2010. Like a conjurer, he
could pull the trick off over and over again, even after journalists had seen it happen a dozen
times and knew how it was done. Some of the moves he had learned from Regis McKenna,
who was a pro at cultivating and stroking prideful reporters. But Jobs had his own intuitive
sense of how to stoke the excitement, manipulate the competitive instincts of journalists,
and trade exclusive access for lavish treatment.
In December 1983 he took his elfin engineering wizards, Andy Hertzfeld and Burrell Smith, to
New York to visit Newsweek to pitch a story on “the kids who created the Mac.” After giving
a demo of the Macintosh, they were taken upstairs to meet Katharine Graham, the legendary
proprietor, who had an insatiable interest in whatever was new. Afterward the magazine sent its
technology columnist and a photographer to spend time in Palo Alto with Hertzfeld and Smith.
The result was a flattering and smart four-page profile of the two of them, with pictures that made
them look like cherubim of a new age. The article quoted Smith saying what he wanted to do next:
“I want to build the computer of the 90’s. Only I want to do it tomorrow.” The article also described
the mix of volatility and charisma displayed by his boss: “Jobs sometimes defends his ideas with highly
vocal displays of temper that aren’t always bluster; rumor has it that he has threatened to fire employees
for insisting that his computers should have cursor keys, a feature that Jobs considers obsolete.
But when he is on his best behavior, Jobs is a curious blend of charm and impatience, oscillating between
shrewd reserve and his
He ended up not needing to. The agency was able to sell off the thirty-second time slot, but in an act
of passive defiance it didn’t sell the longer one. “We told them that we couldn’t sell the sixty-second slot,
though in truth we didn’t try,” recalled Lee Clow. Sculley, perhaps to avoid a showdown with either the
board or Jobs, decided to let Bill Campbell, the head of marketing, figure out what to do. Campbell,
a former football coach, decided to throw the long bomb. “I think we ought to go for it,” he told his team.
a bushy beard, wild hair, goofy grin, and twinkling eyes named Lee Clow, who was the
creative director of the agency’s office in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles. Clow
was savvy and fun, in a laid-back yet focused way, and he forged a bond
with Jobs that would last three decades.
Clow and two of his team, the copywriter Steve Hayden and the art director Brent Thomas,
had been toying with a tagline that played off the George Orwell novel: “Why 1984 won’t be like
1984.” Jobs loved it, and asked them to develop it for the Macintosh launch. So they put together
a storyboard for a sixty-second ad that would look like a scene from a sci-fi movie. It featured a
rebellious young woman outrunning the Orwellian thought police and throwing a
sledgehammer into a screen showing a mind-controlling speech by Big Brother.
The concept captured the zeitgeist of the personal computer revolution. Many young people,
especially those in the counterculture, had viewed computers as instruments that could be used by
Orwellian governments and giant corporations to sap individuality. But by the end of the 1970s,
they were also being seen as potential tools for personal empowerment. The ad cast Macintosh
as a warrior for the latter cause—a cool, rebellious, and heroic company that was the only thing
the way of the big evil
corporation’s plan for
and total mind control.
Early in the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, the dominant Raiders scored a touchdown against
the Redskins and, instead of an instant replay, television screens across the nation went black
for an ominous two full seconds. Then an eerie black-and-white image of drones marching to
spooky music began to fill the screen. More than ninety-six million people watched an ad that was
unlike any they’d seen before. At its end, as the drones watched in horror the vaporizing of Big
Brother, an announcer calmly intoned, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce
Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”
evoked the dystopian aura of Blade Runner. Just at the moment when Big Brother announces
“We shall prevail!” the heroine’s hammer smashes the screen and it vaporizes
in a flash of light and smoke.
When Jobs previewed the ad for the Apple sales force at the meeting in Hawaii, they
were thrilled. So he screened it for the board at its December 1983 meeting. When the
lights came back on in the boardroom, everyone was mute. Philip Schlein, the CEO of
Macy’s California, had his head on the table. Mike Markkula stared silently; at first it
seemed he was overwhelmed by the power of the ad. Then he spoke: “Who wants to
move to find a new agency?” Sculley recalled, “Most of them thought it was the worst
commercial they had ever seen.” Sculley himself got cold feet. He asked Chiat/Day to
sell off the two commercial spots—one sixty seconds, the other
thirty—that they had purchased.
Jobs was beside himself. One evening Wozniak, who had been floating into and out of
Apple for the previous two years, wandered into the Macintosh building. Jobs grabbed
him and said, “Come over here and look at this.” He pulled out a VCR and played the ad.
“I was astounded,” Woz recalled. “I thought it was the most incredible thing.” When Jobs
said the board had decided not to run it during the Super Bowl, Wozniak asked what the
cost of the time slot was. Jobs told him $800,000. With his usual
offered, “Well, I’ll
pay half if you will.”
The launch event was scheduled for the Apple annual stockholders’ meeting on January
24—eight days away—at the Flint Auditorium of De Anza Community College. The television
ad and the frenzy of press preview stories were the first two components in what would
become the Steve Jobs playbook for making the introduction of a new product seem like an
epochal moment in world history. The third component was the public unveiling of the
product itself, amid fanfare and flourishes, in front of an audience of adoring faithful mixed
with journalists who were primed to be swept up in the excitement.
ethic by sharing his design for the Apple I for free, it was Jobs who insisted that they sell
the boards instead. He was also the one who, despite Wozniak’s reluctance, wanted to turn
Apple into a corporation and not freely distribute stock options to the friends who had been
in the garage with them. Now he was about to launch the Macintosh, a machine that violated
many of the principles of the hacker’s code: It was overpriced; it would have no slots, which
meant that hobbyists could not plug in their own expansion cards or jack into the motherboard
to add their own new functions; and it took special tools just to open the plastic case. It was
a closed and controlled system, like something designed by Big Brother rather than by a hacker.
So the “1984” ad was a way of reaffirming, to himself and to the world, his desired self-image.
The heroine, with a drawing of a Macintosh emblazoned on her pure white tank top, was a renegade
out to foil the establishment. By hiring Ridley Scott, fresh off the success of Blade Runner, as the
director, Jobs could attach himself and Apple to the cyberpunk ethos of the time. With the ad,
Apple could identify itself with the rebels and hackers
who thought differently,
and Jobs could reclaim
his right to identify
with them as well.
The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?” At that moment a screen
came down from the ceiling and showed a preview of an upcoming sixty-second television ad for
the Macintosh. In a few months it was destined to make advertising history, but in the meantime
it served its purpose of rallying Apple’s demoralized sales force. Jobs had always been able to draw
energy by imagining himself as a rebel pitted against the forces of darkness. Now he was
able to energize his troops with the same vision.
Jobs was at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan, preparing for the press previews, so a Sunday morning
conference call was scheduled. The software manager calmly explained the situation to Jobs, while
Hertzfeld and the others huddled around the speakerphone holding their breath. All they needed
was an extra two weeks. The initial shipments to the dealers could have a version of the software
labeled “demo,” and these could be replaced as soon as the new code was finished at the end of
the month. There was a pause. Jobs did not get angry; instead he spoke in cold, somber tones. He
told them they were really great. So great, in fact, that he knew they could get this done. “There’s
no way we’re slipping!” he declared. There was a collective gasp in the Bandley building work space.
“You guys have been working on this stuff for months now, another couple weeks isn’t going to make
that much of a difference. You may as well get it over with. I’m going to ship the code a week from
Monday, with your names on it.”
“Well, we’ve got to finish it,” Steve Capps said. And so they did. Once again, Jobs’s reality distortion
field pushed them to do what they had thought impossible. On Friday Randy Wigginton brought in a
huge bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans for the final three all-nighters. When Jobs arrived at
work at 8:30 a.m. that Monday, he found Hertzfeld sprawled nearly comatose on the couch. They talked
for a few minutes about a remaining tiny glitch, and Jobs decreed that it wasn’t a problem. Hertzfeld
dragged himself to his blue Volkswagen Rabbit (license plate: MACWIZ) and drove home to bed.
A short while later Apple’s Fremont factory began to roll out boxes emblazoned with the colorful line
drawings of the Macintosh.
Real artists ship, Jobs had
declared, and now the
Macintosh team had.